8 Essential Apps For Studying Abroad In The UK
Let’s face it: we depend on our phones. Whether it’s to get us to a new destination, to entertain us when we’re bored, or to contact a friend or family member, we constantly rely on our phones (and the different apps on them) to make it through the day. This becomes especially true during your semester abroad when you’re trying to navigate your way through all the new challenges being thrown at you on a daily basis.
When I was studying abroad in the UK, I probably downloaded a new app every day just to conquer some new obstacle. Whether I was in my host city, traveling around the Scottish countryside, or fighting through crowds on the London Underground, I could usually find an app to make everything just a little bit less stressful.
Here’s a few of my go-to apps from when I was abroad in the UK, and why I found them so useful!
Anyone who has studied abroad has probably heard of (and maybe even used) City Mapper. Basically, it’s like Google Maps on steroids. This app shows you how to get places easily (including the specifics of public transportation), as well as providing some major landmarks, locations or other attractions nearby. I used this app not only when traveling in the UK, but also in other cities such as Paris, where it especially came in handy since I didn’t speak a lick of French.
When I was studying abroad, so were most of my friends. We were scattered in five different countries, in four different time zones, and everyone was on their own schedule. I liked using this app to put in the specific cities where everyone was living, making it easier to know when to contact them, or when you might hear back. It might just be me that likes knowing this, but I found this app oddly comforting at times, knowing where in their days my friends and family were at.
This could really be any travel app, but I find it’s a good idea to have the app for whatever airway you are flying with at any time when abroad. Especially when you are traveling alone, it’s nice to get quick updates about flight status right in the palm of your hand. Airway apps also tend to have other information about check-in and airline baggage policies that can come in handy, especially on smaller airlines or when traveling in countries where you may not speak the same language as everyone at the airport.
The London Underground is the easiest and (sometimes) fastest way to get around London. While the system is fairly straightforward in theory, it can be easy to get turned around and end up going the opposite direction you are trying to go. This app makes it easy to navigate the stops, and also keeps you updated of any construction or changes that may be happening on the tracks, so you can plan accordingly during your trip.
Your School’s App.
I’m not sure if all schools will have an app, but if they do, I highly recommend downloading it. The University of Edinburgh app had options to download different calendars, including one for new student orientations and events, which gave times, locations, and maps that were super helpful. It also gave any updates for the university and had many other great functions. Downloading your school’s app will aid you in navigating your first few days of school, and make it easier to get involved and meet new people!
This app comes in handy when you don’t want to purchase an international SIM card, or if you have friends that are in also studying in other countries. It makes it easy to keep in contact both with your friends from home and also new friends from other countries.
It took me a while to discover this app but I’m so glad that I did. It was the most helpful for finding great places to eat and drink all over the city, so I didn’t miss out on any of the best restaurants, pubs, or cafes in the few short months I was there. While this app has since expanded to include many cities, Edinburgh, and other UK cities were some of the original cities, making them the most well mapped, with so many places to choose from on the app.
Specific to Edinburgh, City Cabs is one of the main cab companies for the city. This app lets you pre-book rides, which came in handy if you don’t have an international SIM card and don’t want to pay through the roof to use your phone. This cab service is super reliable, and affordable, and I used it several times to travel to locations outside my walking distance. Uber is also fairly popular in the UK, but if you aren’t as comfortable traveling with strangers, City Cabs is a certified company and can give you that peace of mind.
I’m sure there are many apps that I didn’t discover in my time abroad, or that have been developed since I came home, but these are a few that definitely came in handy many MANY times. It may take a little trial and error to find which work best for you, in your city, but I promise you’ll find some good ones by the end, and you’ll never want to let them go.