Today’s youths are characterised by their affinity for high-tech gadgets, with mobile phone companies targeting young people and coming up with new models faster than you can say ‘iPhone’. Music players and gaming devices such as the wildly popular PSP are all the rage, and in many cases appear to be surgically attached to their owners. While older folks may balk at this generation’s gizmo obsession, there is one area in a young person’s life that benefits from the advantages of a technology-driven era: education.
Various inventions have made education more easily accessible in terms of research, the distribution of information, communication, and numerous other aspects. Any student who has amassed an assortment of electronics over the years can attest to the fact that these gadgets have indeed made life in the academe easier, depending on how one utilises it.
So now the time has come for you to fly overseas to the university of your dreams, and your packing list is a jumble of necessities and sentimental trinkets you feel you can’t live without. What are the necessary gadgets that you should bring to survive the crunch of college life?
This is the quintessential gadget list for the bonafide overseas student. Whatever you’re planning to bring on your long journey to freedom, parties, and higher learning, be sure to make room in your luggage for these gadgets. Fortunately, technology keeps getting smaller and cheaper every season, so gearing up with these items will not wreak too much havoc on your budget. For all the late-night study sessions, panic-inducing cramming, and the plethora of nerve-wracking deadlines you will soon face, these student-friendly inventions might just be the ones to see you through the hard times.
A laptop is something that you will need every day right from day one. If you do not already own one, it would be a good idea to buy one in Singapore and get it all loaded with the essential programs before leaving home. When getting a new laptop, there are two important things a college student must consider: the weight and the battery life. Remember to get a laptop with a global warranty; if it breaks down, you can have it fixed in whichever country you’re flying off to. Also remember to bring along the program disks which you may have to reinstall when something goes wrong.
If you are not too computer-savvy, it would be best to get some help around here than in a new land. Have your computer cleaned up and tune it to the best working conditions. Reformat the hard disk and reinstall all your programs if you want to bring back the kick in your laptop.
Over the past year, the mini notebook or netbook has become very popular. It usually has a screen smaller than 10 inches and has less processing power. However, its greatest appeal is its portability and its longer battery life. If you are using it mainly for note-taking and e-mails while you have another desktop or laptop in your room for doing the grunt work, the combination would be lovely.
Laptop thefts are not uncommon, especially during the examination rush when the library is packed full with frazzled students and their laptops, and everyone is too caught up in the confusion of cramming to pay attention to sneaky bandits. Keep in mind that most laptop thefts are thefts of convenience and are not targeted. Hence, putting a laptop lock on yours will repel unwanted attention as it will just be a hassle to any would-be thief. Laptop locks come in sturdy materials like titanium, and have combination-lock options if you don’t like bothering with keys.
The mobile phone is the most convenient lifeline to your home and family although the Internet offers cheaper communication. Take along your own phone for good measure, as buying a mobile phone overseas may bind you to certain network providers. With your own phone, you can choose to subscribe to a pay-as-you-go contract.
If you plan to make long-distance calls to your loved ones very often, then you might want to consider getting a Skypephone. Skype has become wildly popular in recent years as it allows its users to make Internet phone calls to other Skype users wherever they are in the world. The Skypephone is just like a normal mobile phone, except that you can make free Skype-to-Skype phone calls and send instant messages overseas for free. There are other options from Skype, if you wish to retain your own phone, such as getting a Skype to Go access number which would allow you to make overseas calls at low rates to non-Skype users. Check out Skype’s website and review your options. Gearing up on overseas communication devices can help cure your homesickness and keep you connected to your family without draining away your funds.
Even though most mobile phones today can also function as cameras, you should not go through the best times of your life without recording them in high quality images. Starting from as low as $150 for world-renowned brands such as Sony and Kodak, the digital camera is a good investment that would provide you with mementos for posterity. You will also find it useful for project work, research, or even as a desperate way to copy notes.
USB Flash Drive
Easily one of the best inventions for students, the ubiquitous USB flash drive allows you to carry around your term papers and research wherever you go for future reference. You can use it to store anything from songs to movies to your classmates’ notes. Can you imagine having your entire academic output in your pocket? Technology has indeed blessed the students of today.
Portable Hard Disk Drive
It would be devastating to have a high-functioning laptop complete with impressive gear, only to lose all your hard work (not to mention irreplaceable personal mementos of your overseas stay) with a hard disk failure or some other unavoidable tragedy. Back up all your important files regularly, using an external hard drive, to avoid having your world crumble around you in the event of a virus attack. From as low as $100, a hard drive is a worthwhile investment that may save your priceless files. You may also want to use it to store those memory guzzlers like your photos rather than leaving them in your laptop.
It may seem like a luxury to some, but at $90, a book scanner will save you the costs of photocopying notes during your course of study. Used like a common highlighter, this brilliant invention scans the text as you run over with it and stores the information in the device. You can then plug it in your laptop and read the amassed information.
Some will definitely argue that a music player is not a necessity in surviving college, but for the easily bored and the short-attention-spanned, having some music-playing device is tantamount to having a constant companion. For those long trips or the late nights at the library, listening to music will ease you through the long hours without being distracted by imaginary spooks, and it will also enhance your concentration. Make sure that you don’t forget to bring your earphones or headset; they’ll definitely be handy in shutting out the usual dorm chaos when you need to procrastinate in peace.
Nothing will be quite as frustrating as remembering to bring all your necessary gadgets, only to find that your country of study uses a different socket system, and you can’t use any of your electronics because you forget the adaptor. Find out in advance the system used at your university and bring along the right adaptor, and – voila! – you can dish out the most impressive reports at the click of a mouse.
Who doesn’t need a scientific calculator? Unless you can mentally compute the square root of 17 times 12 over 25, or identify the value of the ever-present x at first glance, then a good calculator will definitely make a useful companion for the tough battles ahead with Math and Physics.
It may seem wildly off-course from the rest of the list, but it is definitely just as important as it will save you from late-night cramming-induced hunger. It’s handy especially when you have no access to a stove. Though primarily used to cook rice, you can pretty much use the rice cooker to make your instant noodles, boil soups, steam fish, and even make bread. The best part is that it is safe for unattended cooking. If your homework makes you forget all about the cooking, the rice cooker will not burn the food or start a fire because it automatically reduces the heat before the food burns. It then holds the food at a nice warm temperature while waiting for you. For as low as $20, your returns on this investment can go into the hundreds.