As a native Spanish speaker, I love interacting with people of other cultures and nationalities; I find connecting with others an opportunity to practice English and learn about other parts of the world. In fact, I have been studying English for a few years while living in Argentina, and I’ve spent that time trying different apps to help me reach foreign regions and meet new people. The best part of it? I never know who I am going to end up talking to! For me, the thrill of the unknown is a joyful adventure.
I hope one of these three message apps provides a richer use for your cell phone, as they did for me. If you are tired of mindless scrolling through social media, then give these connection-making apps a try!
Ur My Type
If you’re like me and enjoy taking personality tests online, try Ur My Type, a personality-driven app that helps connect you with potential friends or romantic partners.
The app is based on the popular Myers-Briggs Personality Test which provides the user with a theory of their personality type based on four letters, each one representing a personal trait. I’ve found it’s a useful tool, if only to learn more about myself. For instance, I discovered I’m an ENFP, one of the most outgoing and lively personalities of all. I now have an excuse to be even louder and more annoying to my friends without guilt!
Now, back to the app. Once you know which of the 16 types you are (the app comes with the test), it is time to select your “complementary type” preferences and indicate whether you are looking for friendship, romance, or both. I picked friendship.
Ur My Type helped me to forge strong friendships with a woman from Brazil and another from Indonesia. Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to share my music and my writing with them. I also chat and share memes with people from Mexico, Greece, Italy, and Germany, just to name a few more places.
Slowly is not a messaging app; it is a letters app. Virtual letters, that is.
That might seem like a futile detail, but to me, it’s an appealing distinction. The app takes days or even weeks to deliver a letter and provides users the time to carefully reflect upon word selection in their responses. You have one chance to convey your thoughts and feelings.
Using the app is both an opportunity to learn about the importance of patience and attention to detail and a challenge for me since I’ve never considered myself to have such qualities!
Slowly brings back the long-forgotten pen pal experience. Each message you send with the app takes days to reach the receiver, and then more days for you to get a reply (it will vary depending on the country’s distances).
Thanks to Slowly, I made friends with a woman from Ukraine who sent me beautiful pictures of her country, and shared some fascinating drawings she did herself. Eventually, the exchange led to deeper conversations. This was before the conflict broke out in the spring of 2022. When we “met” online, we were two strangers from two different continents helping one another with exchanges about our career paths, studies, and even job opportunities. Although we never met in person, it wasn’t even necessary to see each other’s faces. We were being listened to, and that was enough.
Bottled lets you imagine you are castaway on a “virtual” desert island. Occasionally, bottles will appear floating on the shore, each containing what’s called a “presentation letter” from another user. The letter could include a brief bio or a statement of what you are looking for in future interactions. It is up to you whether to keep the bottle or send it back to the ocean, where it will reach yet another shore until it’s accepted.
You can write your own presentation letter. You could share some thoughts or ask a silly question, then drop it in the ocean and wait for someone to keep it. Keeping the letter means that both the sender and the keeper can now engage in a conversation.
Now and then, a chest will appear near your island, containing credits that you can use to buy a brand new island or colorful paper for the letters.
Of all the apps mentioned here, I find Bottled the most relaxing and fun to use. The full message-in-a-bottle experience feels like a game with the bonus of meaningful connections.
Bottled led me to reach users from Africa and Europe. We shared book recommendations and chatted about life goals. When I first tried the app, I was feeling rather lost regarding my studies and career. It was helpful to find out I wasn’t the only one with doubts. These experiences transcend country borders.
Using these apps helped me meet many of my goals: I had fun, I learned, and I improved my English. Moreover, I still keep up with some of these friendships on Instagram. I’ll always be grateful to these new connections who helped me dive into my writing career, grow emotionally, and offer support and kindness.