At the age of seven, in the early 1980s, I moved to Kuwait with my family. We didn’t have a telephone. There wasn’t a door-to-door postal system. But we did have a tape recorder.
I remember my mother barring us from the living room as she recorded her message home, trying to sound as natural as possible, while feeling terribly self-conscious.
Three decades later I moved from the UK to the US with a baby and a toddler. The wide-open plains of Chicago were bewildering to me. I didn’t recognise the shops brands and I didn’t know the landmarks, so navigation was a huge issue.
And then technology came along in the form of an iPhone (other products are available!).
I have to say that technology helped me to find my feet. Having access to broadband on the go meant I had access to maps, and more importantly a little blue dot telling me where I was. I would never be lost again. I was able to shop online, check out reviews, book restaurant and cinema reservations.
And most importantly I was able to call home, for free.
So which apps and websites are currently helping expats find their feet? Here’s our list, but we’re love to hear your favourites. Drop us a line.
· Skype – call another computer for free using video. Buy credit to call landlines.
· iTranslate – getting used to another language? Try asking for a courgette or augbergine in an American supermarket (sorry, grocery store).
· Google Maps – you’re lost without it.
· Facebook – I was never a fan until I became an expat. Now it’s the easiest way to keep up with life in the mother country.
· Dropbox – keep your documents and photos on a cloud and you’ll have access wherever you go.
· Convertbot – for changing your life from centimetres to inches, and from pounds to dollars.
· iPlayer radio – for getting your BBC Radio 2 fix.
· Stannp – send a postcard using your own photos.
· The Entertainer – 2-4-1 deals on restaurants, spas and hotels. Just flicking through the deals helps you to get an overview of what it’s like to live there. Also now available in Singapore.
· Careem – a great chauffeur car app. Clean, courteous and safe – the cars and the app.
· The Dubai Mall – helping you to navigate around the biggest shopping centre in the world.
· How2Go: Helping you get from A2B via public transport.
· ComfortDelGro Taxi booking: Does what it says on the tin.
· Redmart: Grocery shopping is tricky without a car, but for dry goods Redmart is a great place to start.
Do you have some gems to share?
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