No Longer Lost in Translation: Helpful Websites and Apps in Santo Domingo

Moving to a new country can be completely overwhelming, especially when traveling alone for work. First, one may have to navigate a new language and a new culture. Second, one needs to orient him or herself to a new city and country. Third, one needs to re-create a feeling of home. Moving from New York to the Dominican Republic has its own unique challenges. Dominican Spanish is spoken differently than the Spanish most people study in school. The country’s infrastructure is also different than that of the United States. And finally, as a newcomer, new habits and new favorite hangout spots must be discovered.

There are a few websites and mobile apps that I use to navigate the country, ranging from language apps, to bus company websites. Each serves its own purpose and have made my journey here easier.

1) Google Translate

Google Translate is my favorite app for communicating. When using basic phrases won’t cut it, or no matter how much I wave my hands… I have to look up a word. Last week, I had a leak in my bathroom and had to ask for help, I started by saying in Spanish, “There is a lot of water!” When that didn’t get the point across, I looked up the word flood (inundacion). This app works for myriad languages and also has a feature to hear the word spoken aloud.

2) DuoLingo

This language learning app is great if you want extra practice learning new vocabulary. It teaches from one language to another (English > Spanish, English > French, Spanish> English, etc), and is great for on-the-go review.

3) FourSquare

FourSquare is a location-based app that enables you to search for new places based on your GPS. You can also read reviews, check-in to your current location, make lists of different places, and see where your friends have been. I have found great Chinese restaurants, cheap lunch spots, and recorded my journey with this app.

4) Google Maps

When you just can’t plain find your way, Google Maps is there for you.

5) Que Hacer Hoy RD

This website, which also has a Facebook and Instagram, lists events in the Dominican Republic by category and also has a number of free listings. I’ve seen free movies, attended free concerts, and learned about art exhibits and expos. It has been invaluable for social plans.

6) Go Dominican Republic

The Ministry of Tourism’s website is helpful for learning about different regions, and is available in a number of languages.

7) iHeartDR

Not only do I write articles for this site, but it is a helpful way to learn about the Dominican Republic, with a special focus on tours in Punta Cana.

8) Metro Bus

If I am travelling between cities, I generally take Metro Bus and the price is less than $10USD each way. Before I go, I check the schedule and confirm when the last bus is and plan accordingly. While generally you cannot purchase tickets online, the best bet is to arrive 30 minutes before your bus leaves and bring a book. My second choice is Caribe Tours.

9) DR1.com

This forum-based website is a place for expats and natives alike to contribute their knowledge. It has plenty of helpful articles and posts, and also is a place to add your questions.

10) Aldaba.com

The best job-searching site here, where you can search by city or keyword, and also upload your resume.

11) Facebook Groups and Blogs

There are a number of groups on Facebook (just search Santo Domingo or wherever you live) and join a group that fits your needs. When I was looking for a job, I asked for advice and plenty of people responded with helpful links and tips. I’ve also found good information on blogs kept by expats in Santiago and Santo Domingo, it just takes a little bit of searching to find the blogs.

What are your favorite travel apps and websites?

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