Google app
Everything an international student needs in one place! Source: Bence ▲ Boros/Unsplash

Student life is hectic to say the least and this is especially true for international students adjusting to new cultures abroad.

But with all the challenges of the modern world come some pretty nifty solutions, too.

No matter the student-life-woe, tech giant Google is bound to have a fix. Eager students are always after some crafty smartphone ‘life hacks’ and you might be surprised just how many handy apps are at your disposal – many of them for free!

There’s an app for everything nowadays! Source: Giphy

Here are some tips and tricks on how to use Google apps to your advantage as an international student…

Google Calendar

Getting weighed down by deadlines and commitments? Use Google Calendar to stay on top of things.

The app allows you to log everything in your busy schedule, notifies you of upcoming appointments and helps you balance your time. On top of that, when you receive an email about an event like a flight or a restaurant reservation, it’s automatically added to your calendar.

And if you synchronise the app with your Facebook account, you’ll be receiving reminders for birthdays and events from the social network site as well.

The Google Calendar also allows you to manually set reminders for the most important events going on in your life, like your assignment deadlines or your exams to avoid any last minute panics.

Google Maps

In a brand new country and city, you’re bound to get lost once or twice (a day!) which can be stressful and frustrating, especially when you have lectures to get to or new friends to meet and time is ticking on.

You can use Google Maps to navigate your way around your new city – even offline! If you’re yet to switch onto a local SIM or have insufficient internet service, you may even be able to access maps with no internet if you remember to pre-download the area onto your phone earlier while you’re Wi-Fi connected. Handy, right?

Google Scholar & Books

We’ve all been there: browsing through rows of dusty books in the forgotten corners of the library for assignment research but all to no avail.

But this is the 21st century and now you can do it all online!

So, instead of searching through endless website pages or shelves and shelves of irrelevant library books, you can access it all on your phone.

Google Scholar is a really handy search tool which presents scholarly writings from multiple disciplines in different formats, allowing you to gather useful and credible sources for your assignments with ease.

Alternatively, if it’s a whole chapter or book you’re after, Google Books has a huge online library of materials to discover, download and access digitally.

Google Translate

If you’re an international student in a country that doesn’t speak your native language and you haven’t heard of Google Translate, what have you been doing?!

Long gone are the days when international students relied on pocket dictionaries and notes on keywords. These days, you can get pretty much anything you need right there within your phone or tablet.

google apps

How did we cope without it? Source: Shutterstock

Google Translate is likely to be your new best friend if you’re studying in a language other than your mother tongue.

Reading a textbook in Spanish when you’re much more comfortable in English? No problem. Just take a photograph of the page you want translating, scan it into the app and it will be automatically translated – like magic!

Google’s storage apps

As a student, we’re guessing you have a tonne of files to keep track of. Google has a huge number of handy digital storing and filing systems which you can use to your advantage.

Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Sheets help you to keep all your notes stored in a safe place and backed up if anything goes amiss.

You can also grant joint access to documents so if you’re working on a group project, everyone can add to the document and you can work together in real-time, even if you’re not all in the same room.

Google Photos

What about all those memories you’re making? You’ll want to backup and store all your pictures of new pals, stunning cityscapes and, let’s face it, delicious artsy-looking dishes.

While you’ll never lose those memories stored up there in your mind, we’re guessing you’d hate to lose the digital memories through a smartphone mishap. Google Photos can back all your precious photos up and store them for safekeeping, ready to access any time you want a trip down memory lane.


Are you forever running out of internet data on your mobile? Checking out all these handy apps is going to be great for your student life,but perhaps not so great for your data plan.

Ever heard of Datally? Nor had we until recently. This savvy app will help you manage your internet data through tracking and controlling usage all at the touch of a button (or should we say screen?).

It also searches for nearby free Wi-Fi hotspots all over your university town or city so you can still connect when your data’s running low.

students at google malaysia

Students trying out what they learned at a Google Malaysia event. Source: Google Malaysia

Often students don’t realise the number of tools available to them, particularly when they may be struggling with the trials and tribulations of moving to a new country on top of the usual stresses of student life, but these useful tools should help get you going.

In collaboration with Kuala Lumpur-based Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), Google Malaysia even recently launched a campaign called ‘Google Cafe: Cool Tools 4 Skool’, where they hosted an interactive session with soon-to-be students, acquainting them with the apps mentioned above.

The Cool Tools 4 Skool campaign was designed by Google Malaysia to enable students to become “digitised” graduates and help them to get the most out of their time at university.

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