If you’re thinking about studying abroad, you’re probably not alone. In fact, according to the Institute of International Education, more than 1 million Americans study abroad each year. That’s a lot of people! It’s also a lot of opportunities for you to learn from other cultures and languages, see new sights and sounds, and gain valuable experience that will serve you well no matter where your career takes you.
But before you can start packing your bags for that semester in Italy or France, there are a few things you need to know about studying abroad—and some apps to help make it easier!
So let’s get started: what are some of the best apps for studying abroad?
Best Apps For Studying Abroad
If you are preparing to study abroad, chances are you are thinking of possible issues you might face in a country far from home. What if you get a nasty case of homesickness or have difficulty understanding a local language? Or maybe you want to share some of your experiences in real time, with loved ones back home? That’s where study abroad apps come in.
Fortunately, several smartphone apps are now available to solve both Apple and Android users solve those issues and more.
So fire up your smart phone and get downloading. Here’s our go-to list of our favorite study abroad apps—you know, the kind you’ll actually use.
google translate app
- Google Translate
Who doesn’t love immediate feedback when you’re trying to order that decadent chocolate dish (and avoid the alternative frog-looking thing?). Lists of the best study abroad apps should alllll pay homage to this great service that Google provides! Apple | Android
google maps app
- Google Maps
Available online, offline, with voice direction, without… this maps app never stops working for you. Sure, it might send you on a roundabout path or to the backdoor of your destination time and again, but on the whole, make sure your travel abroad apps game includes Google Maps. Apple | Android
Booking flights on the go? Have your eyes on a destination and don’t really care when you actually travel there? Set up flight alerts and notifications to get up-to-the-minute updates on the availability and cost of your preferred flight path. Kayak for life!! Apple | Android
[Get free advice on top study abroad programs]
This instant messenger and voice-over application lets you send text messages and call for free. Not only that, you can also send pictures, icons, and voice and video messages. Unfortunately for those studying abroad in Lebanon, Viber does not work there (the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications has blocked Viber because of its Israeli origin). Apple | Android
whats app app
WhatsApp with me, not much, WhatsApp with you!? This gotta-have-it study abroad app keeps you connected to, well, just about everyone through internet messaging. It uses the Internet to make voice calls, one to one video calls; send text messages, images, GIF, videos… the ways to keep in touch with friends and family are endless! 😱 Apple | Android
You might be balling on a student budget, but you can still find incredible deals through study abroad apps like Airbnb. Stay with locals, get the feel for off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, or enjoy more memorable accommodations, like tiny houses or tree houses or farmstays. It’s also a great place to get travel advice! Apple | Android
If you want to be an airfare booking pro, put on your best bunny ears and tap into Hopper’s big data collection and flight analyzation technology. Hopper provides study abroaders with the 411 on how to get the best deals on flights, and notifies them when prices for their flights are at their predicted lowest points. Cha-ching! More money for gelato! Apple | Android
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I know you secretly daydreamed walking around London or Paris in the rain (with your fabulous new boots, no doubt), but for the most part, it helps to know the weather and plan around it. WeatherBug is one of our recommended travel abroad apps to help with just that. Apple | Android
Flights are nice, but have you experienced the glorious overland experience yet?! Rome2Rio’s study abroad apps can help you find buses, trains, and yes, planes between multiple destinations. And it’s interface is bright pink. Awesome. Apple | Android
Love it or hate it, Uber can be a godsend when you’re in a pinch and can’t find a cab. Used in more countries than any of it’s competitors (though we do recommend doing research for the local alternative!), it’s a safe-bet to pre-load your phone with this study abroad transit app. Apple | Android
Admittedly, Yelp hasn’t caught on in every worldwide destination quite as well as it has in it’s Bay Area birthplace, but it can still be a helpful resource to scout out fun new things to do or places to eat in any given place. If you’re a foodie, travel abroad apps for you are few and far between—this is a good mainstay. Apple | Android
[Wanderlust much? Our articles can help with that.]
A little more old school, but parents are usually already well-versed in Skype’s capabilities for sending messages, making phone calls, or video chatting with one or more people, in one or more locations. You can instantly show them everything you are seeing at that moment. The downside is that if you place a regular call to a mobile number or use the video conference feature, you will need to pay a certain amount. Apple | Android
This handy translation tool developed by Sonico GmbH will help you break the jitters associated with the difficulties of understanding or speaking a foreign language. This app can translate the following languages into English: Arabic, Bokmal, Norwegian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. Apple | Android
how to pronounce app
- (How to) Pronounce
Another translation tool. This app lets you speak foreign words correctly, helping you avoid mispronouncing words. With the support of Google Translate and Bing Translate, (How to) Pronounce can help with 53 different languages. Type in the word or sentence and this app will pronounce it for you. Apple | Android
- Tunnel Bear
Keep your internet connection secure while abroad, especially if you anticipated connecting to lots of random WIFI networks. Tunnel Bear is an app that doubles as a virtual private network (VPN). This is a fancy way of saying your IP address and location aren’t public and you can mask your location by a different one. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling to countries that practice strict internet censorship (i.e. China, Vietnam, etc.). Apple | Android
- XE Currency
Exchange rates are always changing, so it pays to be alert. This application lets you convert any currency to the currency of your choice. The app is free and features real-time rates from USD to multiple world monies. Apple | Android
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Everyone’s favorite photo and social media app lets you take pictures, apply filters on them, and share them online to your friends — both on Instagram and via other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This is an invaluable tool for making scrapbooks or online journals of your experiences abroad. Plus, it can double as a research tool if you search by hashtags or locations. Don’t worry, no one can see you saved that cat cafe! Apple | Android
With this cool photography app, you can take photographs and apply new effects on them. VSCO is easy to use and lets you take panorama shots from different angles. It’s interface is elegant, and by using this app, you can enjoy beautiful and subtle one-tap presets, adjustable filter strength, and more. Apple | Android
sit or squat
When nature calls in a strange place, SitOrSquat helps you find the nearest public toilet. This app has a database of more than 100,000 bathrooms worldwide and is constantly being updated by users. The toilets are rated for cleanliness and other measures. You can add bathrooms to the database and add your ranking (“sit” if you like it or “squat” if it needs improvement). Also, this is probably the cutest app icon in your phone. Apple
around me logo
This popular application can help you find the nearest bank, hotel, grocery store, or just about anyplace you want to go. It will identify your position via GPS and then give you a list of the nearest places of interest. You can also opt to view them on a map rather than a list. Apple | Android
[These study abroad programs are lit 🔥]
rayka app for study abroad
Advisors are great and resident directors know their stuff, but let’s face it. They’re still adults, doing adult things, and not always the BEST resource for learning what university students do or where they hang out. Rayka’s here to break down that information gap—sharing tips by students, for students, in dozens of popular study abroad destinations. Study abroad apps will never be the same! Apple
These study abroad apps got you covered!
Now that your phone is ready to rock n’ roll, we hope you are too. Just remember to keep your nose out of your phone for the majority of the time—you do want to have an adventure, right?! It’s not called “Do-Your-Same-Bad-Habits-Abroad,” is it? Your phone is a tool, and now it’s just as prepared as you are to kick butt this semester. Onwards!
best study abroad application essays
A lot of students want to study abroad just for the experience and the excitement of living and learning abroad. These are important aspects, of course; however, school administration wants to know why going to your top study abroad destination will make a difference to your education.
Be specific! Explain the impact studying abroad will have on your personal and professional growth. Don’t just highlight how you think you will learn a lot. What do you expect to get from the program specifically? Is there a reason you picked one country over another to study in?
The more specific you are the better. It shows the university that you have given serious thought to your studies and that you are ready for the commitment!
2) Let Them Know Why You Picked Where You Want to Study
Instead of just saying you will study anywhere, as long as it’s abroad, tell the university why you picked your top study abroad destination. Write with enthusiasm and let admissions know what you are excited to see and do in your new home.
Make sure you do the research in advance! Name some museums you would be interested in exploring or some monument you would be interested in seeing. It’s in your favor if you can also tie these back to your study program!
This will show your school that you will not take your study abroad experience for granted, and that you already have things to do to integrate into your new home easier.
3) Describe Why You’re Qualified
Whether you’ve recently entered college or are ready to graduate, your experience says a lot about what you will accomplish on your study abroad. If you want to make your study abroad essay stand out, make sure to make mention of your previous experience.
Mention major academic accomplishments, work experience, or skills that you might find useful abroad, such as knowledge of a second language.
The university knows you will learn a lot during your time abroad, but the more you can bring to the program, the better!
4) Show Your Personality
The best study abroad essays are the ones with a little bit of personality! Your essay should still sound professional, but don’t be afraid to let yourself shine through as well. Studying abroad comes with challenges, and if the university gets a sense you are ready for them, you will move to the top of the list.
Add a personal story about something relevant to living and studying abroad. Describe a time you traveled somewhere new or met a friend from a different country. A well-rounded individual with some experience is the perfect candidate for studying abroad.
Showing some enthusiasm while also keeping your expectations realistic is the right way to show the admissions team that you have thought long and hard about your decision to study abroad, and that you are ready to pack up and move abroad.
5) Follow Instructions
It might sound simple, but if you don’t want your study abroad essay to be immediately tossed aside, make sure to read and follow all the instructions given. Some universities will ask specific questions or ask students to format their essays in a particular way.
Don’t ignore these instructions! It’s the first step to making a great impression.
If the essay is open-ended — great! Follow our tips to get inspired. But, if there are specific questions, make sure you answer them clearly and concisely. There might not be any right or wrong answers, but your school will still be looking for students who are able to express themselves and get their point across.
The Perfect Study Abroad Essay
If you followed our advice so far, you’ll be looking at the study abroad essay that’s going to get you into the program of your choice at the study abroad destination of your dreams!
Don’t forget to proofread before handing in your essay. If possible, it’s great to have someone take a look over it as well, especially if it’s a professor or someone who has written a study abroad essay before.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.