Tips from an alum: 5 free apps for study abroad students

Today, there are all sorts of wonderful smartphone applications designed to make traveling less stressful and more fun. With free Wi-Fi hotspots becoming widely available around the world, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of them. Here are five apps from five different categories that I’ve found useful in accompanying a student’s study abroad experience. All of them are free.

1. Viber

Most of the people I met abroad used What’s App, a great way to text without a mobile network, but when communicating with people back home, I preferred to use Viber. Like What’s App, you can send texts, pictures, videos and short voice messages. But in addition to these features, Viber actually allows you to call another user. It’s a simple way to chat without a video—just like a phone call without the phone bill. Bonus: It also comes with a bunch of fun stickers. 

2. Duolingo

One of my favorite language apps is more of a tutor than a translator. Duolingo is a fun way to brush up on your language skills or expand your vocabulary. It’s set up like a game where you’re challenged to make it to the next stage and you can even compete against friends! What I love most about this app is that it combines all four components of language learning: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Currently Duolingo offers instruction in Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese. You do need to be connected to the Internet to use it.

3. TripAdvisor Offline City Guides

This app provides several complete guides to major cities all around the world—with no Internet needed! Instead of unfolding the gigantic map you got at a tourist information booth, just scroll though one on your phone. Much like TripAdvisor’s website, these guides provide you with information and reviews on the best restaurants, hotels, attractions, tours and much more. However, make sure to download your chosen guide before you leave the Wi-Fi zone.

4. XE Currency Converter

Very simple and very useful, this currency converter allows you to quickly calculate live exchange rates. It also stores the latest updates so that you can use it offline. Whether weekend shopping in a different country, dining at a fancy restaurant or planning your monthly budget, XE makes money management a little easier.

5. Evernote

Evernote is a great way to document your travels and organize your thoughts while on the go. Fill up different virtual notebooks with snapshots, documents, voice recordings and to-do lists. It’s like a high-tech travel journal! Your stored information may also be transferred to other devices, and Evernote comes with an easy-to-use search feature, enabling you to quickly find previously saved work.