Can you imagine being a student studying abroad even as far back as 20 or 30 years ago? Finding your new campus, discovering how to secure accommodation, and learning your way around – even applying for a degree in another country seems somewhat impossible now that we’re armed with the web as we know it.
How reliant we are on technology is a debate for another time, but there’s no denying just how much it makes life easier that it’s almost hard to believe how people got by before. We can communicate with friends and see what they’re up to through social media; we can even order food without so much as making a call. Most importantly, though, we can make well-researched decisions for the future by simply finding and applying for what drives us.
Either way, if you’re about to study abroad, there’s plenty of moving parts, and there’s a lot to get a hold on for the transition to a new country to go smoothly. That being said, the internet is, in many ways, a beautiful thing, and you have an army of tools at your disposal to make life a lot easier for when you arrive. Not like 30 years ago, right?
Keep reading to learn more about the tools no ex-pat should live without.
We all know what Google Maps is, let’s be honest. And it’s just one of the many useful tools that Google offers. When it comes to finding your way, it’s unbelievably reliable and works much better than the iOS alternative. It’s routinely updated and the company even sends its own cars out to map the world.
You know that extra five minutes in bed you kinda shouldn’t take but do anyway? Well, using Google Maps makes it a possibility, since you can lock in the precise time it takes to go from door to door.
Whether you travel by public transport, on foot, by car, or even by bicycle, unless you run late on your way to uni or to meet friends, you’ll always know just how long it takes to get somewhere.
Plus, and what’s especially useful about it, is that you can download your journeys to be used offline, as well as pinpoint your favorite locations to find later. This is ideal for anyone that’s yet to buy a local sim card for their cellphone and is avoiding roaming charges.
You might know it as Transferwise, but it recently went through a name change – or a name shortening, to be more on the nose. Some people need to send money home to family, or if they’ve got a side business with employees around the world, PayPal, for example, simply won’t do. If you’ve just started studying abroad, you may need to send money to the account you have back home or wish to send your earnings back to prepare for when you return.
Wise is a fintech company that, these days, is a dime a dozen. But it’s been around more than a decade and is as consistent as it was when it was established. It’s a name to be trusted.
Anyone that uses PayPal knows how bad its fees and exchange rates are, as well as how long its deposits take and how painful it is to use. Wise uses the actual currency exchange rates, its fees are incredibly low, and the transfers can go direct to the receivers’ bank accounts. Plus, you can send money to – at the time of writing – 65 countries worldwide.
Making new friends, at least with locals, isn’t always easy. Plus, it can be even harder based on the country you move to. This might sound like a sweeping statement, but plenty of ex-pats will no doubt confirm that there’s some truth in this.
As someone that moved to the Netherlands for work four years ago, it takes just one hand to count the number of locals that’ve gone from stranger to friend. It’s certainly a toss-up between how much time one invests into making friends and how approachable the locals are.
Now, every nation around the world is filled with people looking for a companion – and that’s why Meetup is such a beautiful thing. Whether you want to meet people based on mutual interests or by exploring something that’s out of your depth and understanding, Meetup is perfect.
Simply peruse the site for a listed event that appeals to you, confirm your attendance, and show up. You might want to join a book club or find a group interested in cinema. Maybe you want to have a few drinks and put the world to rights. Who knows? Either way, there are so many options available through Meetup.
As a student, you have so many avenues to meet new people, but they might not share your interests or have personalities that resemble yours. Meetup gives you the chance to rely less on guesswork. You can take a chance on those that not only share your interests but are likely also in the same friend-finding boat.
Studying abroad in a place where the language isn’t your own is tough. Speaking to locals is a constant reminder of either how much effort you’re putting into the native tongue or how little you’ve tried. But there are tools-a-plenty out there.
Combined with tutoring or the lessons your uni or municipality might offer, you can keep your learning up with the likes of Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or a number of others. One of the most promising options available right now, though, is Lingopie.
Using Lingopie means you’re always learning while watching TV. Right now, it’s no doubt the best language learning tool. Even in your downtime, you’re always learning. You can watch more than 1000 foreign shows on a platform that’s focused entirely on teaching viewers proper grammar, sentence structuring, and for once, the subtitles are actually accurate.
Get ready to watch your favorite shows, or step into the unknown cinema of your new country, and actually be able to learn in the process. Few companies are offering this – and Lingopie is free to start off with.