Staff Spotlight: Nicole Couturiaux

Nicole Couturiaux is the Student Admissions Counselor at CAPA International Education. A graduate of Dickinson College, Nicole studied German and Philosophy with particular interest in intercultural relations, media studies, and ethics. She cites her year abroad in Bremen, Germany as one of the most influential and rewarding experiences of her academic and professional development thus far. While abroad, Nicole interned with a human rights organization, participated in student clubs, and visited countless cultural festivals, historical sites, and poetry slams (in the German language of course!).

Did you study or intern abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Nicole Couturiaux - Students Admissions Counselor

Nicole: I studied abroad in Bremen, Germany for my full Junior year of college. Between semesters I interned at a small non-profit specializing in human rights advocacy and sustainable development. Interning abroad taught me valuable professional skills and gave me another avenue to learn about my host culture.

As a German major, my interest in the language, politics, art, and environmental initiatives of modern Germany, and more broadly Europe, motivated me to study abroad – and I’m so glad I did!

What aspect of working at CAPA inspires you the most?

Nicole: It’s such a pleasure working with CAPA’s knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. My colleagues are passionate about international education and providing students with the tools you need to be successful abroad. We’re here to support you from the time you start your application, to applying for visas and packing your suitcase, to navigating your host city, to transferring your credit from the program back to your home university.

How do you see the field of international education changing over the next 10 years?

Nicole: I believe that the number of students participating in academic and internship programs abroad will continue to increase as students seek more opportunities to enhance and diversify their professional qualifications before graduating.

If you had to choose one, what destination would you recommend to prospective students? Why?

Nicole: It’s so hard to narrow down our big world to just one study abroad destination, but I’d have to recommend Beijing, China. Even if you’re not a language expert, this is a great way to learn about the history, people, and economy of a major world power. Having a comprehensive understanding of China’s role and ambitions in the global market will be an extraordinary advantage for you in many career paths.

Nicole and her 'dog'!

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering going abroad?

Nicole: Try branching out and connecting with the local community. Join a student club, volunteer, become a regular at a café or music venue. While there, talk to people! You’ll be surprised by how receptive and friendly people are when you show that you’re eager to learn from them. Not sure where to get involved? Ask your CAPA staff for suggestions!

Any tips for first time travelers?

Nicole: Relax! Your journey won’t always go as planned, but just take a deep breath and ask for help as needed. For example, my first time traveling by train I got lost in the station and missed 2 connections in a country where I wasn’t comfortable speaking the language. In these situations, look carefully at the signs and try to find a help desk, uniformed personnel or kind-looking fellow passenger to talk to. Approach them calmly and politely (sometimes easier said than done) for best results. My train ride was pretty stressful, but I eventually made it to my destination safe and sound – and learned useful lessons in flexibility and self-confidence along the way!

Anything else you would like to share?

Nicole: Consider keeping a blog. It requires a bit of time and organization, but your friends and family will appreciate having a window into your life abroad. You’ll be grateful, too, to relive all of your amazing adventures for years to come.