If you haven’t tried Skype then sign up NOW and discover what all the fuss is about! We can’t recommend it more highly. Free video calls across the world for as long as you like; all you need is a computer, webcam and microphone and you’re laughing. A word of warning: you’re abroad for a reason – don’t keep in touch more than is really necessary!
2. What's on When?
Whatsonwhen.com is a worldwide events guide covering festivals, parties, all sorts of music, sports and art. Search by country, city or date to plan your year abroad around unmissable events, and don't miss their fantastic Weird & Wonderful section which does what it says on the tin!
Use Livemocha’s free online language-learning software to top up your skills before or after your year abroad. Get your language exercises checked by native-speaking members of the world’s largest online language-learning community.
Host your year abroad travel journal and online guidebook with ThirdYearAbroad.com! Get top tips and advice from recently returned students, ask questions in our Forum and pass on the benefit of your experience to future students.
Store all your year abroad photographs quickly and easily in neat online albums for public or private view on Flickr. Send links to friends and family and get acknowledgement from the Flickr community for your photography skills.
6. Open Culture
They describe themselves as “the best free cultural and educational media on the web” – and they might have a point. On Open Culture you can download foreign language audiobooks, listen to ideas & culture podcasts and also get free language lessons – a really useful resource if you’re interested in learning around your subject.
The number one tried, tested and relied-upon online dictionary for language students (and it got the TYA team through finals too!). Want to find out how to use a foreign word in a particularly strange/unique context? With its hawk-eyed network of international linguistic enthusiasts, this site will have the answers.
8. Multilingual Books
Multilingual Books is an unbeatably comprehensive collection of online foreign internet radio stations, online foreign newspapers and online foreign television to keep up your general knowledge of your destination country and hone your aural understanding in preparation for finals.
Listen to an inexhaustible collection of your favourite songs on Spotify to help you feel at home while you’re abroad! Add some songs from your new country into the mix – there’s nothing better than subconsciously singing complicated foreign lyrics!
An obvious one really but this is the definitive list… Use Facebook to stay in the loop with goings-on back at home, get involved in events abroad, invite new friends to your flat parties and grow your international network. Join our Fan Page to get top year abroad information, advice and news hot off the press.
11. WordPress Blog
You will kick yourself afterwards if you don’t write about your year abroad – whether in a diary or online, it’s the best way to remember people, places and events – especially if you’re planning to return in the future. WordPress is (in our opinion) the best blog provider out there, but if you prefer to handwrite your memories, sign up to TYA for up to 20% off travel journals.
Instant online translation is a hard nut to crack – think of all the language nuances the engine would have to understand! Frengly does a darn good job though. Check it out and send us a screenshot if you can fool it…
Think Twitter is just a load of people talking about what they ate for breakfast? Well there are a few oddballs, but it’s mostly used as a never-ending source of information about everything. Want your questions answered quickly? Ask us in 140 characters (@thirdyearabroad) and we can even crowd-source a response! If you don't want to sign up, the Twitter Search is a fantastic way to find out what's going on.
Get a personal feed of all your friends' updates from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, FourSquare, GoogleBuzz (and more) in one free smart desktop application! Track when you're mentioned, reply to messages and search for keywords - you'll never need hundreds of tabs open again!
15. Word of the Day
Before you go, why not improve your vocabulary simply by getting one new word of your chosen language in your inbox every day? Your challenge is to use your Transparent Language Word of the Day in conversation without anyone noticing…
If you know when your holidays are but can't decide where to go, then visit Joobili to find the unmissable worldwide events during that time. You can also search by themes e.g. 'New Year's Eve' or 'chocolate' and you can browse the top events in each country.
Available for French, German and Spanish speakers, these online dictionaries let you type special characters, give you detailed translations including synonyms and related words and, something which all true linguists will appreciate, they give you the word you've searched for in other languages as well so you can see (and hear!) direct international influences on and connections with your language.