Studying abroad is not for everyone one. By that, I mean not everyone has the skills and maturity to undertake a challenging and rewarding experience like living in another country for three months. Being submerged in another culture, living in another country, requires maturity, flexibility, awareness, and resourcefulness. While you will learn many skills to add to your tool belt along the way, at least a portion of these skills is required to be able to survive in a new country. Maturity: to conflict resolve, to handle crisis, and to overall cope with the obstacle of being in another country and traveling to many others. Flexibility: in order to deal with many types of people and situations, and be able to manage them, and to adapt to various environments whether in your base country or while traveling. Awareness: both for your safety but also cultural awareness, which is definitely a skill you will grow further, in order to not aggravate or engage in conflict with people of the country that you are residing in. This may sound silly, but if you are culturally unaware of people that are different than you and in a foreign country, you can not only make enemies but end up in some very sticky situations. And finally, resourcefulness: this is a skill that will grow exponentially while abroad, but I would recommend that if you are to live in another country for any length of time you should at least be a little resourceful so that you are not perpetually lost, and that you are able to travel and enjoy your experience.
While I would say I am resourceful, one thing I do not have is a sense of direction. In order to make up for the skills I do not have and to make living abroad easier, I have become more in tune with technology while abroad and have downloaded many apps to make my life easier while in my home city of London and while traveling. I have compiled a list of apps I have downloaded and use while abroad to share just how much I use technology and just how useful it can be!
ESSENTIAL. I am directionally challenged. As in, when I am in a mall and I come out of a store I don’t know what direction I came from. Yes, I know, bad. Citymapper is most helpful for me because it has all of the public transportation maps in the app and gives me the most options for travel throughout the city using different forms of public transportation. It also includes train routes and will even pair to your Uber app. However, I have found it comes to preference whether you like the layout and frequently I find it confusing to just use for walking routes and so for that, I use….
Yes I know, basic. But for me, before I studied abroad I swore by apple maps, NOT HELPFUL IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES. Google Maps has been the most helpful and clear with pedestrian travel and in the most cities in different countries.
Definitely have to have it in big cities, especially in emergencies when certain public transportation routes stop working late at night, and you wouldn’t want to be stranded at the airport at 2am…yes speaking from experience, don’t ask.
SO helpful for looking at train/bus/airplane tickets for different European travel destinations within Europe. Google flights is also a great option too.
Come on, you know this. Always read reviews by the way.
When traveling, my travel companions and I always check both HostelWorld and Airbnb without assuming one will be cheaper than the other. Depending on the city you never know if a hostel or Airbnb will be cheaper. Don’t discount hostels till you try them, some can be totally great and safe just make sure to read all the details. Also, it can be great to find a hostel on HostelWorld but then sometimes you can book through the hostel’s website instead of the app because it can charge an extra fee. Cheap student life.
On the Go
EXTREMELY helpful. I cant tell you how confusing it can get with constant conversion rates changing for Euros to US Dollars, British Pounds to Dollars, and then all the other currencies like Czech Koruna, Swedish Krona, et cetera.
I am the yelp queen. I swear by yelp and you will too I promise. When you’re in London and you’re standing on a street with fifteen indian restaurants that all swear they have the best tikka masala you’ve ever had, a quick glance at yelp will tell you which one has the most stars and REALLY has the best tikka masala. Then after dinner you’re just craving gelato and you want to know the closest place that’s not TOO trendy where it’ll break the bank but still be open till 11pm—yelp’s got you.
In a city like London and many other European cities, they may be far evolved past the U.S where nearly every place takes contactless card payment; however, most places do not split the bill and require one person to the foot the whole thing. Venmo allows you to within 5 seconds send that gracious human your portion of the bill. Only complaint, it only operates within USD and converting can be quite annoying.
That is all I have for my technological tips from across the pond. Because I didnt have any pictures here is a picture of Leadenhall market, one of the filming locations for Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter movies. I will be doing the Warner Bros tour and visiting Oxford this weekend and will share pictures next week!