Q&A Spotlight with New Employee - Brianna!
Why are you excited to work for CIS Abroad?
Oh goodness, so many reasons!! Working with CIS Abroad allows me to continue sharing my passion for transformative travel experiences. I have the pleasure of supporting our university partners in their study abroad initiatives, and I’m able to draw from my own experiences to help others do work that’s important to me. I’m also drawn to CIS Abroad’s commitment to access and inclusion, working toward promoting diversity and equity within international education. The mission and values of CIS Abroad are ones that I live out in my own life, making this company a perfect fit for me. Finally, the people at CIS are some of the most genuine, helpful, and fun people to work with!
Describe a memorable moment from abroad
Just one?? I have so many stories – Blackwater rafting in New Zealand, the time my taxi’s windshield randomly shattered while traveling in El Salvador, eating chips and queso in a natural hot spring in Iceland… I guess one of my favorite stories was when I said “yes” to an adventure and truly did not know what I was getting into.
I was staying in an AirBnb in the old city of Bergamo, Italy with a local woman who messaged me a few days before my arrival and asked if I wanted to join an outing with her speleological group. With only a rough understanding of what a “speleological group” was, I agreed to join. I was given a time - 7:00PM - and a location to meet the group the night of my arrival. I showed up as the sun was setting and joined a group of people who spoke little English and were gathered next to a dark van. The back of the van was opened, and we were each handed a helmet with an affixed headlamp. The next thing I knew, one of the group members pulled out a crowbar and popped a metal grate out of the ground to reveal a metal ladder leading into a dark hole. One by one, people turned on their headlamps and made their way into the hole, under the streets of Bergamo. Finally, it was my turn. Unable to ask questions in Italian, I saw no turning back and slowly climbed the ladder down the hole.
For the next 2 hours, I got a behind-the-scenes tour of underground Bergamo, inside the old city walls and through the old city aqueducts. I squeezed my way through tiny, damp, channels and lowered myself into huge stone chambers where the city’s water supply used to be held. With my limited Italian, I learned that this wasn’t a formal tour the group normally did with visitors. This group of people explored underground Bergamo for fun and research - I just happened to be staying with one of the group’s leaders at the right time. By the time we finished, I was covered with mud and had seen my fair share of creepy crawlies down in the tunnels, but I felt completely alive and grateful that I said YES to the adventure!
What has your career path looked like? How did you end up in the field of International Education?
It took me a while to figure out that International Education was my desired career path. I changed my major roughly a thousand times, from psychology to music to pastry arts to journalism, before landing on Hospitality and Tourism. I knew I loved travel and could see myself doing something in that realm. My experience living abroad in Australia while in high school was a pivotal time for me, and felt it was my calling to encourage others to go abroad and experience the world outside of their comfortable spaces. After college, I jumped around a few jobs in the travel industry before deciding to start a travel blog full time, to share my travel stories and use the platform to encourage others to travel. For 3.5 years, I traveled, wrote articles, ran social media, and collaborated with businesses in the tourism industry, which was a ton of fun but exhausting. In May 2019, I officially joined the world of International Education as the Study Abroad Coordinator for a small university in Wisconsin. I learned a ton, helped create more efficiency, increased promotion for study abroad, and even got to co-lead a group of incredible students on a program to the Galapagos Islands! Having done just about as much as I could to grow the study abroad program, I decided to move on to CIS Abroad and share my passion with universities across the country.
What does a typical weekend look like for you?
Starts with Sleep-in Saturday! Then, my family and I like to have Breakfastravagaza because breakfast is the best meal of the day. Then, the rest of the weekend is usually filled with cleaning, reading, hiking, kayaking, and the occasional family jam-session. My favorite weekends are the ones that are the perfect combination of relaxation and productivity.
What are 5 words that describe yourself?
Inquisitive, Goal-oriented, Creative, Whimsical, Diligent
Don’t wait around for your friends to join you. Solo travel is one of the most exciting and empowering things you can do. You’ll learn so much about yourself and get the chance to meet new friends all across the globe!