Congratulations! If you are reading this, you are probably planning to study abroad either this summer or fall, or you would like to study abroad in the future. Deciding to live and study in a different country is one of the most fulfilling and life-changing decisions that you will make during college, but it is also incredibly overwhelming.
One of the best things you can do is to get prepared—there’s a whole world of changes and planning ahead of you, and with the right tools, you can truly make the most of your time abroad. Here are my recommendations for the apps you need on your phone before you jump on that first flight.
- Skyscanner—this money-saving app can help you before you’ve even packed a single suitcase. It will tell you the best airfare deals, working with many different airlines to do all of the work for you. The first thing you’ll learn about air travel is that it may not always be glamorous, but it can be cheap.
- Google Maps—It may seem obvious, but getting lost in a foreign country can ruin a trip faster than I can eat a Nutella croissant. Google Maps brings you all of the navigation features you need, with a handy offline mode that allows you to download maps when you still have service; these are viewable even when you’re deep in the alleyways of Venice.
- WhatsApp—Whether you want to chat with your family and friends back home, or your brand-new language exchange partner, chances are you will want to text while you’re abroad. WhatsApp is easier than dealing with iMessage in a foreign country, and it’s totally free.
- Hopper—Another handy flight purchasing app, Hopper will tell you if that flight to Berlin you’ve had your eye on will get the least bit cheaper, or if you should book it now. It’s worth checking out, especially if you want a bit of extra cash to spend on schnitzel.
- Airbnb—Cheaper than hotels and with way more local charm, Airbnb is the perfect option for finding lodging abroad. Plus, it’s way quieter and cleaner than the dreaded hostel bunk beds. But don’t delete the app once you get back to sunny Southern California, because Airbnb has great escapes in the United States, too.
- Google Photos—Don’t let the dreaded “iPhone storage is full” warning interfere with getting the perfect Instagram shot. Google Photos automatically backs up your camera library and clears the photos from your phone, allowing you instant access to all your old vacation selfies in the cloud, plus unlimited space for those new photos of your gelato.