So you've left your home country in search of a change of scene. Living in another country provides the next exciting chapter in the story of your life.
Wherever you've moved to, be it somewhere in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa or Oceania, you're guaranteed to have an incredible adventure, but there may be some surprises along the way. Breaking the language barrier and staying in touch with family and friends are two such challenges that you might face on a regular basis.
Luckily the digital age old saying, "there's an app for that!" holds very true for expats, especially considering how smartphones and other mobile devices are essential items to have on the relocating packing list.
Here's a selection of the ten best FREE apps to help make your life as an expat just a bit easier.
Best for tackling tough translations
Downloading this app will help you to translate 50 languages. As well as showing you how to read another language, the app also voices the translation so you can practise on your pronunciation. It can come in handy when you're out and about and get stuck with a certain phrase or puzzling over how to ask a particular question while out shopping.
How do you say: "The boys eat the cake?" in Italian? No guesses? Duolingo can teach you. This great app helps you to engage in some fun exercises such as word jumbles and listen and repeat. It's a great way to hone your foreign language grammar and vocabulary skills. So far the app teaches French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Portuguese. It's suitable for adults and children so the whole family can learn together. By the way, the answer is: "I ragazzi mangiano la torta."
Best for staying in contact back home
If only E.T. could Skype home. It would have made things a whole lot easier...but then there wouldn't have been such a great movie. Skype requires data access, but if you can get to a free Wifi spot, you can make free or cheap international calls. This app is handy for families who want to stay connected to family and friends back home on a regular basis. N.B. Be aware that if you use the video when away from a Wifi connection, your data usage will be sky high.
It's hard to remember Mother's Day or your sister's birthday at the best of times. It's almost impossible to remember them when you're on a different continent to them. Thanks to the Forget Me Not app you'll never have to remember another birthday, anniversary or official date event ever again. It does it for you. A customised text or email will be sent one week before the event, prompting you to send flowers. The app also allows you to order flowers straight from the website.
Best for entertainment
This app will keep you up to date with the latest tunes to hit the airwaves. TuneIn allows you to listen to virtually every radio station in real time. It's great if you're feeling a little bit nostalgic and want to listen to a familiar radio station. You'll discover new stations too. The radio is the ideal companion throughout the day providing news, entertainment, music and information to make even the most mundane task a little easier.
Remember how fun Etch-A-Sketch was? Now you can relive the retro-activity again with Scribble Lite. The app turns your smartphone or mobile device into a mini sketch pad. Draw aspects of your new surroundings from the sites you've seen to the new food cuisines you've sampled. Afterwards you can send your masterpieces to friends and family back home. This is another great app for the kids too. They can send their works of art to the grandparents. It's the digital replacement of giving them pictures to pin up on their fridge. They'll love it.
Best for being in the know
How do you greet somebody in your new country of residence? Do you shake hands or bow? Perhaps even kiss on the cheek? Moving to a different country doesn't just mean you have to learn a new language. You have to learn a new culture and way of life. This app helps you with the latter and includes information on a country's customs, cultural information and other facts on over 165 locations. It includes GPS locations but there's an option to browse via country name or flag. You'll have no fear of insulting your new neighbours or hosts.
We all know how great Twitter is. It's an awesome tool for keeping up to date on the latest gossip or news from both home and far away. Keep on track of the information you want to know and follow in real time. Twitter is also useful in the expat world for learning the latest news from the community or meeting fellow expats who may be in your area.
Best for useful searching
Having relocated to a different company, you've already got a reputation for always being on the move. Change is good, but the trouble with that is it's pretty tough to maintain a level of connection, especially when the connection is Wifi. This Wifi Finder app does exactly what is says on the tin and locates free Wifi signals near to you. There are over 650,000 locations with free or paid WiFi worldwide. Data is used to access and pinpoint your location.
Getting sick and not knowing where to go for help is a pretty terrifying thought. Have no fear! Doctoralia app is here to save the day (and maybe your life). The app allows you to search for health professionals and centres by name, city and postcode in seven languages for healthcare services in 14 countries. You can also rate and contact services as well as read reviews left by other users.