Balancing Act

There are dozens of things that I have to manage during my time studying aboard, but the balancing act is not as hard as it seems. One of the fun challenges is deciding if I want to travel on the weekends or stay in my host city. Traveling in Europe is much easier and less expensive than in the United States, but it also takes time away from exploring and experiencing Budapest. Another important thing to balance is schoolwork – sometimes I forget that I am studying abroad. And the last thing that has snuck up on me is homesickness. Events that happen at home make it hard for me to not add homesickness to the balancing board of studying abroad, but all of these things are what make going abroad worth it.



Studying abroad has taken me to many different parts of the world, and it has also made me adapt to an international city. I have been to Romania, Poland, Spain, Turkey, and Germany. I have loved every experience from tapas in Barcelona, to hearing the call to prayer in Istanbul, and even relaxing in a small mountainous town in Transylvania, but sometimes I fell like I am missing out on experiences that Budapest has in store for me. Each country has been amazing, but it is comforting to hear people speaking Hungarian every time I return to Budapest.


I do believe that if you find yourself studying abroad in Europe that you should take the opportunity to travel to as many countries as you can, but I also suggest that you make the most of the city and country that you reside in. Each individual country has so much in store that exploring different ones every weekend could be overwhelming. Planning individual weekend trips other than the ones that are sponsored by API I found is also a great learning experience because this is the first time I have made my own travel arrangements. I felt accomplished after my first individual trip went well. I have learned a useful skill.


Another thing I have to add to the mix is schoolwork. My public service announcement to anyone who studies abroad is to do your assignments far in advance. The work seems like it won’t pile up, but it does. I suggest if you are traveling a lot during the semester to take advantage of long train rides or free time in the airport to get things done. Nevertheless, if you do leave the work until the end of the semester I suggest you find coffee shops with comfortable environments, local libraries, or just anywhere with fast WiFi. Budapest has vast varieties of cozy coffee shops and beautiful libraries that have distracted me from the fact that I have a mountain of work to accomplish before the end of the semester.



The last thing that I had to balance while abroad is the thoughts of home. Holidays like Thanksgiving that are not celebrated in Europe have triggered homesickness for me. The best way to deal with homesickness is to talk to your family and loved ones. Don’t overdo it though, because it might make you even more homesick. I coped with homesickness by finding things to do in Budapest that reminded me of home. This not only helped, but it gave me a different view of Budapest. My friend took me to a chair lift that took us to the tallest point in Budapest. It took us through trees and hiking trails. My friend is also from the Pacific Northwest, so we felt right at home.


Traveling provides a balancing act that is filled with amazing experiences, wonderful people, and differences that can be scary at times, but totally worth it. I believe that traveling is one of the best things a person can do. It has made me grow as a person in ways I never thought possible. I have learned to let experiences happen and to not expect too much because experiences will only be let downs if I have too high of expectations. I have learned important managing skills that I will take with me throughout my life and even when it gets scary I know that I can find the comforts of home in a city that is miles away.

Gracie Finlayson is a student at Hofstra University and an official API Blogger. Gracie is studying abroad with API in Budapest, Hungary.

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