Science and technology

Tuesday, 24 March, 2015 - 21:59

My top ten apps abroad

by BlakeS

Lots of us have smartphones these days. Smartphones are quite amazing, as one device can do so many things. During my time abroad I’ve relied a lot on my phone to help me. Here are the ten most useful apps I have used. I’ve never paid for an app, so you can rest assured the ones I’ve listed here are totally free!

All phones come with an inbuilt calendar app. I’ve found myself using the app quite a lot recently. It is important to know your dates when planning a weekend away. It is also comforting to check the app when I’m feeling homesick – it helps to remind me that I will be home soon, so I should make the most of my time abroad.

You won’t be surprised to find Facebook on this list! As I’m sure you know, it’s an essential for staying in touch with friends. It’s also been the easiest way for me to contact the other language assistants in my town.

Google Translate
It’s that moment when the word is on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t remember! Don’t worry, Google Translate can lend a hand! Just make sure you double-check if you are translating longer texts, as the software does make some very humorous mistakes!

Personally, I really like the Gmail app because it automatically sorts email into different categories. The important mail goes straight to my inbox, while less important mail is sorted into other categories. Of course, it doesn’t really matter which email provider you use! The email app has been essential to contact my schools and keep in touch with family back home.

After an exhausting day of work, I needed a way to help calm and focus my mind. This is how I found Headspace. Sign up for free to try some easy meditations - they only take ten minutes. I’ve found them a great way to relax after a stressful day.

Temple Run
Take the idol if you dare! You assume the role of an explorer, who steals a sacred artefact form a jungle temple and is chased by evil demon monkeys. Use the touchscreen to jump and duck while collecting coins. An addictive way to kill spare time!

There have been several times when I’ve had to send scans of my documents to various authorities in France. But I could hardly fit a whole scanner in my suitcase! Fortunately, I didn’t need to. TinyScan uses your smartphone’s camera to create a scan of a document, which you can email to yourself or others. It’s been a lifesaver!

When exploring a new town, it’s good to know the best places to eat and the most interesting attractions to see. I always turn to TripAdvisor for information. Here, you can find hotels, restaurants and attractions listed with other visitors' ratings and comments. It makes it a lot easier to choose a good hotel.

Tumblr is a blogging site which specialises in image posts. There are plenty of blogs to choose from, covering subjects from cartoons to geology. Follow a few blogs you like and you can easily spend half an hour (or more!) scrolling through your newsfeed (‘tumblring’, as it’s called). You can re-blog the posts you like to share them with your friends. A great distraction if you’re feeling bored!

Do you find your head cluttered with things you need to do? Shopping, preparation for school work and social engagements have given me lots of things to remember recently. Every time an idea pops into my head, I tap the Wunderlist app. It’s a very easy place to write down things I need to do. Ideas can be sorted into different categories and shared with others. You can also add reminders so you won’t forget anything, and sync your lists with your computer.

Note from Editor: Have a look at the British Council's learning apps here:


What is your favourite app? 

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