Staff Spotlight: Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons is the Student Advisor at CAPA International Education. Jim Parsons studied history and political science at Walsh University in Ohio. Following graduation he spent a year teaching English in France – forever cementing his love for travel, wine, and chicken liver. After working in Washington, D.C. for a few years he decided to return to France and follow his interest in working in international education. He is now pursuing his Master’s degree in the Boston area and accumulating plans for future travel in his head.

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

Jim Parsons - CAPA Student Advisor

I did not actually study abroad while in college. I opted to do an internship in the US while in school and go abroad after graduation by teaching English in France. I had studied the French language for a long time, visited Paris during high school on a short trip, and knew I wanted to get back to France long term. I’ll always be in love with that place and dreaming of my next trip there.

What aspect of working at CAPA inspires you the most?

Jim: I would say the people who work here. Everyone has had such amazing travels and experiences - it really brings a lot of interesting perspectives to the office. And since everyone has similar interests in traveling and curiosity about the world, we all get along really well.

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

Jim: The role of technology will certainly have a major impact. In some instances, “connectivity dependence” can create problems when trying to get students to meaningfully engage with their host environment – getting off the phone, breaking zones of comfort, and experiencing a new social and cultural setting. But technology can also be an amazingly useful and creative tool that can have a major impact on student learning. I think that finding ways to best strike that balance will be an exciting challenge.

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

Jim: Istanbul! I have never been but I have always been fascinated by this city. I’m a big history nerd so I would love getting lost in the old parts of the city. It’s also just got so much to offer: amazing food, incredible diversity, a beautiful setting, that modern megalopolis vibe. Oh yes, Istanbul.

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

Jim: Break the bubble. It’s true that you often make great friends living abroad from your cohort of other Americans/English-speakers/students/whatever. I met some of my best friends this way. But don’t let a semester go by without breaking this bubble and taking some initiative to meet locals and be independent. Try to join a club or a sports team. Take a yoga class or just strike up a conversation with a stranger. It will make your experience abroad so much richer.

Any tips for first time travelers?

Jim: So many, but one thing I would recommend is to walk, not rush. I know you don’t want to miss a single top-10 sight in Paris because who knows when you’ll ever be back, but my best memories of visiting any city have always come from just taking time to walk around, get lost, and let my curiosity lead the way. Look at the details of the city around you. People watch. Stop in that amazing-looking neighborhood bakery. Don’t fall into checklist mode if you want to get a deeper feel for a new place.

Anything else you would like to share?

Jim: One practical piece of advice: plan ahead. Even if you’re not sure if you want to go abroad, start looking into your options well ahead of time and make sure you’re aware of deadlines and requirements. You’ll put yourself in a much better position of finding the right opportunity for you and making sure you’re able to take advantage of it.