Rachel Bermingham, studying at the University of Tübingen, Germany
Apps are a welcome addition to my life. Having recently been without my phone, I realised just how much I rely on them. While studying abroad I’ve been appreciating apps more than ever, be it for personal, study or travel purposes- there’s an app (or a few hundred) for everything!
Keeping up with current affairs
While abroad it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on in the world. difficult to keep up with what’s going on in the news. If you’re like me and find reading a foreign newspaper somewhat challenging, apps such as RTE News or BBC News keep me up to date.
Banking via an app is something I cannot recommend enough. Having instant access to your bank balance whenever you want is a much needed necessity as a student - helping you know both when you can afford to splurge and when you need to rethink your weekend plans. Germany is a cash dominated society so most of my transactions just say ‘’ATM Withdrawal’, but ordinarily this is a great means of keeping on top of your spending - particularly when you’re wondering how you spent a significant chunk of your loan on the night before. I use Allied Irish Bank (AIB) but each bank has it’s own app for online banking. I don’t have to worry about the exchange rate - being within the eurozone - but TransferWise is a great app if your study abroad location uses a different currency, enabling you to transfer money with the correct exchange rate (the one you see on Google).
Keeping on top of the weather
Weather apps have served as a god send for the mornings when you need to prepare in advance for snowboots. The severe cold that is -9 degrees here has taken quite some getting used to, so I’ve become seriously reliant on this. While the weather is automatically on your iPhone, Accuweather and WeatherBug are worth checking out for that added accuracy - both downloadable for free.
There are times as a student when you can feel a bit lonely in your room - especially when studying abroad. Luckily the endless shows Netflix offers can dramatically help this. Whether it’s ‘going to my room to work’ or stumbling across a great new original series to binge watch it has the answer. It’s available across most of Europe and for a subscription price of around €10 a month it’s well worth the investment to turn some of the more boring days upside down.
Local Bus App
I depend on the bus to get me to university daily and rely heavily on my app to keep track of them. Most public transport networks have an app with a live timetable so I highly recommend checking out your local one when in a new city. My local bus app Naldo has saved me more than a few times and the Deutsche Bahn app shows all the available train services around Germany for when I venture beyond Tübingen.
All the Googles
When you’re stuck in a restaurant with no English menu and you can’t decide if Kartoffel means chicken or potato, simple as it may be, Google Translate is all you need. If you’re especially lazy and typing is just too much, you can even take a photo of what you’d like to translate and Google will take care of the rest.
When you first arrive in a new city and have no idea how to get to your hostel, Google Maps is your best friend. It can help you out in any pickle. It even lists landmarks, shops, restaurants on the maps to make your life easier. I wouldn’t recommend IOS maps though as it has a brought me down non-existent streets in Prague before.
This app helps you find the best way of getting from one place to another by comparing multiple travel methods. Once you enter where you would like to go, it tells you whether or not you would be better to cycle / walk / take a train / fly / drive to your destination based on the cost and the duration of the journey. It’s great for working out to see if your dream destinations are reachable and affordable.
You can get a bus to practically anywhere within Europe. Flixbus is the main bus provider with endless destination possibilities. Their app makes buying tickets easy and efficient as the ticket stays within the app.They list all of their routes around Europe along with offers, including visiting 5 cities for €99 which has seen me get from Tübingen to Berlin, to Prague, to Vienna, to Bratislava and all the way home.
Rachel Bermingham is an Irish student currently on her erasmus year at the University of Tübingen, Germany