Q&A Spotlight With New Employee - Nicole!
Meet Nicole, our Site Director in Barcelona, Spain!
Why are you excited to work for CIS Abroad?
I am so excited to join CIS Abroad because I have been wanting to transition into the field of International Education since I started working in Spain. I have been able to see firsthand how studying and living abroad opens you up to a new world, culture, and language. I have loved being a part of a student's journey and seeing how they grow as individuals throughout their experiences abroad. I also really enjoy working with University students. They are in such an exciting period of their lives where they are finding independence for the first time and getting adjusted to life as an adult, it brings me true joy to be able to connect with them and offer them guidance and support along their journey.
Describe a memorable moment from abroad
I spent a week in a small village in Morocco with a family friend who is from there. Her family completely integrated me into their home and culture even though we didn’t speak the same language. All forms of communication were done with hand gestures unless my friend was there to translate for us.
One evening, she went out with her husband and I was home with the family learning how to make some Moroccan dishes. They ushered me outside and I was completely confused as to what was happening and where they were taking me. I stood out like a sore thumb in this small village, however, everyone was waving and saying hello to me. We ended up at a small hut where a man was roasting an entire lamb on a spit and that’s when I realized we had come to retrieve our dinner. So I hoisted it over my shoulder and helped carry it home.
It was one of my first moments living abroad on my own and it made me realize just how amazing it is to embed yourself in a different culture and see the world from a different perspective. I saw how each travel situation presents itself in a way so that you can reflect on your cultural bias and understanding and learn something new.
What has your career path looked like? How did you end up in the field of International Education?
I studied Political Science, Law, Societies and Justice, and Human Rights at the University of Washington and I was taking the LSATs after my senior year of college, completely ready to go to law school. The pressure of the exam and the student loans I was facing for the future was a bit daunting so I decided to take a year off and move to Spain to teach English.
When I arrived, I realized I was living in one of the smallest, most remote villages in Spain (with no Spanish). I decided to make the most of the opportunity which helped introduce me to the language and culture. I decided to stay for another year in Granada. Eventually, I found myself running an education company that focused on integrating native English speakers into primary and secondary level classrooms, as well as organizing exchange programs for these students abroad.
Seeing my students have the same experiences abroad as I had had when I first moved to Spain was when I realized that law school was never my path and International Education was my chosen future.
A typical weekend for me is…
Right now, I am still studying for my MBA so I have classes on Saturday mornings, but right afterward I’m heading out the door to meet up with friends for a caña and sobre mesa after a meal! I am so lucky to have surrounded myself with amazing people here abroad and I enjoy spending as much time as possible with them. I also love to stay active and take advantage of the Mediterranean, surfing, scuba diving or just being near water. Usually, I try to wind down on a Sunday evening by drawing or spending a little time being creative!
5 words that describe yourself
Adventurous, Outgoing, Creative, Active, Curious.
Do not be afraid to interact with the locals and ask questions while at a cafe or in a shop. Oftentimes, they can lead you to the hidden gems you would never be able to find without their help.