Challenges Being Abroad

Lisa Penfield headshot
Lisa Penfield
June 11, 2024

I was originally planning for my next few blog posts to be about my 10-day mid-semester trip, considering my last post was about budgeting for that trip, and I even had a few drafts written, but those drafts may be gone… after these past few weeks, I’ve decided that I’m going to highlight the not-so-fun parts/more challenging aspects about being abroad.


Technology Failure 

Yesterday was the last day of the semester, and my laptop died :( It went to sleep and wouldn’t turn back on. Met with a mix of confusion (since it’s a brand new laptop), disappointment, and slight denial, I trekked over to the Student IT Hub at UoA, hoping they’d have a magic touch and bring my computer back to life. Sadly, they didn’t know what to do, and since it was so late into the semester, they didn’t have any long-term loaner laptops available. After this, I walked the 20 feet to PB Tech in the student center. They also didn’t know what to do, telling me they’d have to mail my computer to a center for it to be reviewed and “diagnosed,” after which the computer could be fixed (if it was fixable, to begin with). This was not ideal, considering I’m leaving at the end of the month and didn’t want my laptop trapped with the NZ Post or, worse, lost.

Feeling quite defeated, I headed back to the dorm and did what most overwhelmed young adults do, call my parents. After a quick call with them, I called Apple support, and with a few tricks of holding down the power button, closing the laptop, waiting, testing the charger, and testing the adapter, my computer still wouldn’t turn on. The black screen simply reflected my sad face. 

Since there are no Apple stores in New Zealand, I went to an authorized service provider in Newmarket, which was recommended to me by the Apple support employee. Soon, I was left computerless after dropping my device off at the store, right in time for the holiday weekend and the start of finals season.

In the span of those few hours, I felt pretty frustrated. I felt lost since I didn't understand the resources available here. If this were to happen at my home university or the U.S., I'd find the closest Apple Store or Best Buy and bring my computer in promptly. However, in Auckland, I was trying to make sure I wasn’t handing my laptop to an untrustworthy third-party source.


University Health Services

Apart from my computer dying, I also was struggling with back pain for the latter half of the semester. It was a pain I thought would disappear, but as it persisted, I decided to go to the university health center. During this experience, I was also frustrated and lost, again confused about what resources were available. For this, I was unsure what my health insurance covered, but good news, all international students are automatically enrolled in the university policy health insurance! That meant my doctor's appointment at the university health center and my physical therapy appointments were covered (UoA runs their own physical therapy practice). For doctor’s appointments, you have to be enrolled in their health portal before you can make an appointment. I’d recommend submitting the enrollment form early (such as at the beginning of the semester) since it took about a week for them to process my form and enroll me into the health portal and another two weeks for my appointment to happen. 

After a month of physical therapy appointments, my back pain is on the mend!


Some Positives: Feeling Thankful for My Friends

I don’t want to end this blog post on a negative and sad note, so a few fun things that have happened in the past month include going to a night market with friends, watching a rugby match, visiting Piha Beach, and finishing Loki season one and two! Here’s to my final few weeks of studying for final exams and recovering and backing up my data!

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Lisa Penfield headshot

Lisa Penfield

At Tufts University I’m a Sustainable Solutions Fellow, a member of the Chinese Students Association, and a Volunteer Coordinator for the Food Rescue Collaborative. Outside of school, I enjoy running, baking, and learning to play frisbee!

Home University:
Tufts University
Engineering - Environmental
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