What is your area of research? How long have you been working in this field? How long have you been lecturing at PPCU?
My name is Eszter Beran, and I am a professor at PPCU Psychology Institute, in the Department of Developmental and Clinical Child Psychology. I have been lecturing at PPCU for almost 10 years. My research area is psychotherapeutic interaction, narrative identity, and narrative development.
When you were a university student yourself, did you ever study abroad? If you did, what courses did you take?
When I was a student I have studies abroad, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, at the State University of New York in the USA, as well as at the University of Nebraska in the USA. My major was psychology.
How did you choose the country and the university, and how much information did you have about the courses and the lecturers before your visit?
After the fall of socialism in the 1990’s in Hungary it became possible to travel freely in the world. My main motivation for studying abroad was to learn about foreign cultures, to learn foreign languages and get experience of living in foreign places. I had to apply to scholarships to support myself, and chose universities that offered scholarships for Hungarian students. I was interested in universities that had a good psychology department, and tried to gather as much information as I could about the chosen university. It was difficult, however, because the internet was not yet around at that time.
Have you got any recent teaching experience at foreign universities and with the students of these universities?
At the moment I teach only at PPCU, but I used to teach at McDaniel College in Budapest, where I taught students from the USA, Europe, Africa, and Asia as well.
Your lectures here, at PPCU, are very popular with foreign students. To what reasons do you attribute this?
I hope that students enjoy my classes and I can offer interesting topics in the field of narrative and identity. We have a lot of interesting class discussions and students can relate their own specific experiences to the problems we discuss, see how different cultures contribute to identity development and the construction of life stories, and we try to understand each-others’ experiences even though we come from different backgrounds.
How easy is it to find the way to your guest students, to reach them and to get on with them?
I have a very good experience with Erasmus students, they are very diligent in class work, ask questions and participate in discussions. We have no problems at all in getting along well.
Are you able to make time for your foreign students out of the tight timeframes of the lectures?
If students ask me, I talk to them after classes, or in my office hours, I can send them reading materials and help them to prepare for the classes.
Can you contribute to broadening your foreign students' horizon about Hungary and Hungarian culture?
In my experience Erasmus students are very open to Hungarian culture. I always make sure to include important readings in the class about Hungarian culture and history. These are most of the time written in Hungarian, but we also have Hungarian students in the class, so they can „interpret” such texts in their presentations for foreign students, which we can discuss afterwards.
What do you like about teaching foreign students?
I think that the diversity of point of views, a fresh look at the different problems, and an open attitude all contribute to exciting discussions in the class, so I and the Hungarian students can learn a lot from students from various countries.
How can you introduce your foreign students to our university, its past and its spirit?
Erasmus students are very curious about the history of PPCU and they like the atmosphere of the university. They enjoy the various programs they can participate in within the frames of the Erasmus program.
Could you mention any differences between Hungarian and foreign students in terms of their needs or expectations?
Erasmus students and Hungarian students work together in my class, they respect each-other’s cultural differences, differences in experience and ideas, and eager to learn about each-other, which is why I enjoy so much having Erasmus students in the class.
Does it occur that you advise your Hungarian students where to spend their Erasmus scholarship? What aspects do you take into consideration when you give them advice?
Mostly, Hungarian students on Erasmus scholarships choose classes they think would be interesting for them, or differs from the curriculum we have here at PPCU. I encourage them to learn new subjects and use their Erasmus time to learn about the culture, and build relationships with students studying at the university.
Last but not least, when you have spare time, how do you usually spend it?
I like to spend time with my family, read a lot of literature, and go to the cinema.