Smartphone Features & Apps for International Students

Modern-day technology has unveiled an abundance of smartphone features and apps for any and every purpose. From messaging platforms and planning apps, to translators and keyboards, there is no lack of choice for students embarking on a study abroad trip. These differing smartphone tools may come in handy when experiencing language barriers, cultural differences, or time zone changes, among other nuances.

Besides smartphone tools, students must also consider purchasing an international student phone plan when traveling to a foreign country. Each phone plan comes with its own cost, benefits, and properties. Before making any decisions, consider each smartphone plan, feature, and app mentioned below. 

Cell phone plans for college students.

Although many individuals already have a phone plan, it is important to check if that plan will work outside of its country of origin. Will My Phone Work is a useful website that allows you to check the status of your phone with regard to international carriers. Make sure to also contact your carrier for confirmation. 

A few phone plans continue working outside of their place of origin, such as Verizon’s unlimited plan, which extends to both Canada and Mexico. For plans that do not operate in foreign countries, students should weigh different international phone plan options. Several international phone plans allow you to continue using the same smartphone while living in different countries.  

Further matters students should take into consideration when choosing an international phone plan include:

  • Discounts specifically for international students;

  • Unlimited talk and text to maintain contact with loved ones;

  • An adequate data plan for academic needs;

  • Adequate coverage for your study abroad destination.

girl holding phone

Essential features to look for in a phone.

Every phone comes with an assortment of features that international students may find useful. A few of those features may include:

  • International keyboards to text in different languages;

  • Settings to change the language of your phone;

  • Find My Phone apps to locate a lost phone;

  • Search engine apps, such as Safari or Google. 

Apps for getting used to living abroad.

Moving abroad often requires some getting used to. Students on exchange must navigate a new language, cultural norms, and unfamiliar locations, among other various matters. New apps, however, help make it easier for exchange students to adjust to their new environment. With such apps, students need only to remember where they put their travel adapter. The following apps offer useful tools for anyone studying abroad:

Duolingo

  • App Name: Duolingo

  • Platform(s): The app is available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows 10 Mobile. Duolingo is also available on desktop computers.

  • Price: The general Duolingo app is free to users and features occasional ads. Users may upgrade to Duolingo Plus for $9.99 per month. The plus membership removes ads and allows users to download lessons to perform when not connected to the internet.

  • Duolingo is a language learning app that offers lessons in English, Spanish, Russian, Greek, and Japanese, among many other languages. Users are asked to write, translate, and speak sentences and phrases, as well as read short stories. Lessons include both written and audio components. What can’t be learned from Duolingo generally includes grammar and semantics. 

  • Features included in Duolingo can benefit international students by providing them a familiarity with the language of the country they’re in. The stories component, especially, can teach students syntax and pronunciation skills. 

Google Translate

  • App Name: Google Translate

  • Platform(s): The app is available on iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, each of which must be updated to iOS 7+. Google Translate is also available on desktop computers.

  • Price: The app is free.

  • Google Translate allows users to receive translations of written or spoken words, phrases, or sentences. As of 2016, Google Translate supports over 100 languages. Like all translators, the app is vulnerable to mistakes. Google Translate often struggles to pick up a language’s semantics. 

  • International students can use Google Translate to input words or phrases that are unfamiliar to them. The audio component makes the app extra helpful as users can speak directly into their phones and receive immediate translations. Google Translate can be used both inside and outside of the classroom, for casual conversations with friends or for translating words in a textbook.

Timeshifter 

  • App Name: Timeshifter

  • Platform(s): The app is available on iOS and Android.

  • Price: The Timeshifter app comes with one free plan. All subsequent plans require a single purchase or subscription. Single purchases cost $10 per plan; the subscription is $24.99 per year.

  • Timeshifter is an app that serves to alleviate and prevent jet lag while traveling through different time zones. Users can input flight information and the app will relay instructions on avoiding jet lag. Such instructions include when to get bright light, avoid bright light, take a nap, take melatonin, consume caffeine, and avoid caffeine.

  • International students can adjust to their new time zone by manipulating their circadian rhythm with the app’s built-in tools.

girl looking at phone

Apps for research & writing papers.

International students can run into common problems regarding language barriers when researching and writing papers. However, language barriers need not be the reason for poor academic performance. Apps that help to keep good notes and use proper grammar can make all the difference in the quality of an international student's work. Consider each of the following apps to manage your academic pursuits:

Evernote

  • App Name: Evernote

  • Platform(s): The app is available on Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. 

  • Price: The basic version of Evernote is free. Evernote Premium can be purchased for $7.99 per month, or $34.99 per year.

  • Evernote is a note-taking app that allows users to collect, find, and share information. Users can also organize and archive their notes into individual folders. Notes can be visualized through text, images, drawings, or saved web content.

  • This app can come in handy for international students, as its many features allow them to take notes in their native language. Students can record messages for themselves in both text and audio. They may also create folders for each class, as well as each club or organization they are in.

MyScripts

  • App Name: Nebo is an app offered through MyScripts.

  • Platform(s): The app is available on select Apple, Windows, Android, and Chrome devices. 

  • Price: Nebo is available for $6.99 per month. 

  • Nebo, a note-taking app, allows users to add custom words such as names or places, create drafts, and copy and paste content. Unlike some other note-taking apps, Nebo allows you to make paragraphs, titles, and bullet-point lists.

  • This app helps international students acclimate to their new classroom environment by providing them a handy organization tool.

Grammarly

  • App Name: Grammarly

  • Platform(s): The app is available on desktop and mobile devices. Grammarly may be used on Facebook, Gmail, Google Docs, Twitter, or any other app you may use.

  • Price: Grammarly is free, but there are Grammarly Premium versions that are available for purchase. 

  • Grammarly is a spell-checking tool. Not only does the app catch your grammatical errors in real-time, but it offers suggestions on how to make your work sound better.

  • International students can benefit immensely from Grammarly. The app catches any spelling errors they may make in papers or projects.

Apps for getting organized.

Whether you need to remember when classes are or whose turn it is to do the dishes, a planner app can be invaluable. Staying organized allows students more time to spend studying, making friends, and joining clubs, among other various activities. Each of the following apps makes getting organized easy:

My Study Life

  • App Name: My Study Life

  • Platform(s): The app is available on Apple, Android, Windows 8, and Windows Phone. My Study Life also works on desktop computers. 

  • Price: This app is free.

  • My Study Life features scheduling tools, reminders, syncing capabilities, and to-do lists. 

  • Each of these features can help make it easier for exchange students to balance work and play. With scheduling tools, students can know when and where their classes are. With sync-capabilities, students can share reminders from their phones with their computers.

Chored

  • App Name: Chored

  • Platform(s): The app is only available on iPhone and Android products in the UK.

  • Price: N/A

  • Chored splits bills and chores equally between roommates. Users can add the checking account number to the app and allow it to evenly distribute living costs. Users can also let the app divvy up whose turn it is to do the dishes, vacuum, or take out the trash. Lastly, users can opt to turn on location services which allows them to know when roommates are home.

  • Exchange students living in off-campus housing may want to take advantage of the app Chored. The app can easily take care of rent, electricity, and other such bills. For students living with roommates, Chored is especially useful.

Apps for keeping in touch with loved ones.

In the rush of forming new connections during your exchange, it's important to remember to maintain contact with family and friends. The following platforms offer excellent ways to keep in touch with loved ones.

Instant Messaging Apps

There are several instant messaging apps perfect for keeping in touch with loved ones while studying abroad. WhatsApp, for instance, is among one of the best apps for college students in general. Each of these applications requires only an internet connection to do all the commands typically associated with a cell phone, such as making voice calls, joining video chats, or sending texts. Below are a few instant messaging app options:

Meeting Planner App

Another good app for international students is timeanddate. This app allows students and their loved ones to keep track of their different time zones and dates. With this app, students might not get those 3 a.m. phone calls from their mom asking if they’ve done their laundry, or passed their big exam. Parents, on the other hand, might not get 3 a.m. phone calls requesting money. 

This content is provided for information purposes only. All information included herein is subject to change without notice. Verizon is not responsible for any direct or indirect damages, arising from or related to use or reliance of the above content.