Most students have a lot of fun when they go abroad. That’s just common knowledge.
But prospective students should bear in mind that there are also several problems study-abroad students may face. From homesickness to language barriers, to just learning the social norms of a new city, there is no doubt that if one chooses to study abroad, they may need to make a few lifestyle adjustments.
For Meg Battersby, who is studying in Budapest, Hungary with the UNH Justice Studies program, the one problem she’s had to deal with is learning how to juggle her class work and her widespread and wonderful globetrotting.
Of course, that’s a problem she’s happy to face.
“Honestly, I love being able to meet different people and see all the cultures and countries around Europe,” Battersby said. “I’ve been to Hungary, Croatia, France, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and I’ll be going to the Netherlands with the group of UNH students as a class field trip soon.”
Battersby’s face lights up as she describes her many trips, especially her trip to Italy.
“My vacation in Italy was amazing, the views were absolutely breathtaking and I cannot stop talking about it. Honestly there is a new thing every week that I like the most about this experience, but right now my time in Italy is number one in my mind.”
Now…the downfall to all of her explorative gallivanting?
“Balancing homework and tests versus the traveling has been difficult,” Battersby said. “We get a four day weekend—we don’t have Friday or Monday classes—so we get out of class on Thursday and then try to take advantage of the weekend as quickly as possible. So we leave to visit another place, but then it’s like, when do you do your schoolwork?”
This is indeed the eternal question for study abroad students. Battersby describes it as a constant struggle between remembering that she’s still part of an academic program, and also trying to make the most of the experience by taking every opportunity to see a new place.
“Because,” Battersby said, “I may never get that chance again.”
“If you’re going to study abroad, be abroad and be a part of it. Don’t be afraid to try new things and go to different places.”
But finding that perfect balance simply isn’t easy, because as much as Battersby loves to travel around Europe, she is also thoroughly enjoying the experience of taking classes abroad.
“Every Wednesday we have a field study where we go to different places around Hungary. We’ve gone to a lot of justice-related places, like a rehab facility,” Battersby said. “I stand by the fact that you can’t truly know a situation until you’re placed in it. You can read about topics in books, but until you experience something you can never truly know about it. So I think my studying in Hungary as made me a more well-rounded and knowledgeable student, especially in justice studies.”
Battersby has found it particularly interesting to be studying in a post-communist country, where the relatively recent oppression is apparent.
“I didn’t realize it effected so many people and families and countries,” Battersby said. “Hearing my professors here talk about Hitler versus my professors at UNH, it is a totally different feeling. You can tell it is just such a huge part of who the people here are.”
As a justice major, Battersby feels studying abroad has made her a better student and given her a broader understanding of her field.
“Being abroad tributes a lot to my thought process now. Just meeting people from all around Europe…I wouldn’t be gaining this well-rounded view of the world were it not for coming abroad, I’m just becoming a more educated person.”
So all in all, it is the combination of education and excursions that has made Battersby’s abroad experience complete. She’s not afraid to admit, however, that her excursions tend to take precedent.
“The best advice I could give a prospective student is that when you get here, just jump in and immerse yourself. If you’re going to study abroad, be abroad and be a part of it. Don’t be afraid to try new things and go to different places. I’m starting to run low on money, and luckily my family has been so helpful with that, but take as many travel opportunities as you feasibly can.”
In the end, balancing schoolwork and exploration will forever be an obstacle for study abroad students.
But for Battersby, the key to success is not being afraid to tip the scale. And so…
…She’s off to the Netherlands!