By Andrew French
Queen’s University is a school rooted in old traditions, but when they released multiple mobile applications this summer they proved that they are up to date with modern trends. Their newest mobile application, Arrival, by the Queen’s School of English (QSoE) proves to be a very useful tool for incoming students.
The Arrival Application — A mobile guide for incoming international students.
The new QSoE Arrival application is a quick and easy way for international students to prepare for their journey abroad to Queen’s. It was released in early July and updated on August 28 with minimal changes. It is currently available as a free download for iPhone, iPad and Android devices; however, it is still in the testing phase, and there is the possibility to see expansion into the Blackberry realm.
The move to university can be a stressful experience for any student, but this is especially true for those travelling from abroad. Not only do international students face a new school, they face a new country. Luckily, the Arrival app has an extremely user-friendly interface to make the transition process easier to handle — even new Canadian students may benefit from using this app upon arrival in Kingston.
The application is divided into three main components: Pre-Arrival, Arrival and On Location. Each section has clear-cut sub-sections, which contain detailed instructions and photographs for key parts of the moving experience.
Pre-Arrival contains essential information required before departure, including contact information for Queen’s and Visa acquisition. A checklist is provided for everything required before travelling to Queen’s; however, there are no memory capabilities and therefore your check-marks will not be saved once leaving the sub-section or app.
The Arrival section provided the greatest detail. It outlines, with a clear step-by-step process, the steps a student could take from touchdown at an airport to arrival in Kingston. The dread of a confusing foreign airport is completely eliminated with photos of which direction to take once you step off the plane. The major modes of transportation to Kingston are categorized by arrival city and discuss cost, ease of use, specific route information and have links to their respective websites for ticket sales. This is where the application could really be helpful for a lone Canadian first-year student.
On Location has minimal information and mainly aims to create a stress-free transition into the city and University prior to Orientation Week. The most important sub-section is Accommodation, which provides links for living in a homestay, residences and even hotels. However, this sub-section should be moved to Pre-Arrival because finding a place to stay can be difficult (to say the least), especially during the first week of classes, and should therefore be considered before arriving.
For the most part, there are minimal concerns with the app as it is just in its early stages of development. A major area of concern, however, is the plethora of external links with vital information — it will be highly unlikely for students to have Internet access on their phone upon immediate arrival into a new country. This problem is most likely because the Arrival app was developed by an external firm that creates the same app for schools across the country; by simply linking to Queen’s website they eliminated the hard-work. QSoE should consider including additional information that doesn’t require an Internet connection, such as a detailed campus map. It would also be beneficial to even integrate the QSoE Student Guide to Kingston and Queen’s University into the app. Furthermore, the lack of foreign language options for an app designed for international students is discouraging for students without a strong English
Overall, this app does an excellent job of helping students transition to a new life in Kingston. The “google play” website shows the app has only had 5-10 Android users install the app as of date… this is worrisome because Orientation Week is now over and most international students have already moved in. Hopefully more of next year’s students take advantage of the app. With minimal drawbacks to the app in its early stage of development I would recommend this app to any incoming international student and look forward to seeing more developments.