Learn more about Gracie Balzar, our newest Campus Consultant at CIS Abroad!
Why are you excited to work for CIS Abroad?
On my first day, more than 20 people in the company came and welcomed me to the company. That was 20 plus individuals who each had their own busy schedules, but took time out of their day to make sure I felt welcome. I had never received as warm a greeting as I did that day. In my third meeting with the company, top executive members went out of their way to welcome me and ask how I was doing. To be spotlighted in such a heartwarming way completely caught me off guard. In my two months here, I have been proud every day to be part of this inclusive and passionate team helping students achieve their wildest dreams abroad.
Describe a memorable moment from abroad
I studied abroad in Shanghai, China in 2019. One day after class, I met up with my friend and classmate near her apartment. It was an unusually warm November day and so we went for a walk in this beautiful park nearby. It was an incredibly vivid tableau of life’s beauty. The first sight we saw was a gorgeous marble courtyard that was in front of a picturesque lake complete with wispy and mystical lighting. It was a perfect photo opportunity. There was also an elaborately decorated bridge that made it appear as if you were walking on the water.
Under a gazebo nearby, there was a group of about forty to fifty senior citizens rehearsing choir songs. Not too far away was another group of older adults practicing ballroom dancing complete with fancy outfits. We then walked through a museum outlining architecture that seamlessly blended in and complemented the nature around it. Immediately after we stumbled along a horde of stray kittens playing an intense but entertaining session of chase. Next thing you know we were in the middle of a small amusement park. This park had everything and it is a memory that is still with me three years later.
I’ve never really considered myself a nature person, but this spontaneous walk through this gorgeous park was absolutely captivating. Also, the fact that it was just a normal weekday after class and we happened to discover this transient oasis was all the more fantastic. To me, that is the essence of studying abroad, saying yes to new experiences because you never know how incredible it could turn out.
What has your career path looked like? How did you end up in the field of International Education?
I had an amazing, eye-opening experience while abroad. Personally, I became more confident and outgoing. I also became a more conscious global citizen. Academically, my Chinese improved exponentially and I started seeing the language as a fundamental form of communication as opposed to just a college class.
When I returned from my time abroad, I wanted to help future students confidently handle the ups and downs of study abroad because despite the challenges it is an empowering experience both personally and academically that I would highly recommend to everyone. So, I became a Study Abroad Ambassador and then later an Office of International Education intern. It was amazing to see students come to the realization that studying abroad was actually attainable for them.
After graduating college, this amazing job opportunity with CIS Abroad came along, and I was, and continue to be, excited to help students study abroad and bring more awareness to the assets that this experience can bring.
A typical weekend for me is…
To be honest, I am still figuring that out now that I don’t have undergraduate assignments taking up my weekend. Currently, I really enjoy going to the grocery store, local coffee shops, and just generally exploring my area. In the warmer months you will definitely catch me outside paddle boarding or kayaking.
5 words that describe yourself
Think about how you want to remember this experience. In 4 or so months when you’re back home and in your regular routine, what do you want to look back on? What regrets do you want to avoid?