GoAbroad Interview

Rachael Kacos - Student Advisor & Partner Relations Coordinator

Student Advisor & Partner Relations Coordinator of BSAE

Rachael became passionate about the field of international education after studying abroad herself, and she just recently received her masters in Intercultural Relations. Rachael loves working with students who are interested in studying, interning, or traveling abroad in order to gain different perspectives and to enjoy new people and places. Working as Barcelona SAE’s Student Advisor and Partner Relations Coordinator is a match made in heaven!

Barcelona SAE 2013 interns at Montserrat in Spain.

Rachael and Jazmin, one of the fall 2013 Barcelona SAE interns, at Montserrat in Spain.

You’re from Michigan, and are a big Spartans fan. How does this work sitting next to your colleague, Kristin, a tried a true Wolverines fan?

Well, I have to admit, looking up and seeing the Spartan flag alongside the Wolverine flag in our office is a bit of a bummer. However, both teams are from MI in the end, so its like a little piece of home here in Northampton! It also helps that the Spartans are dominating the football field this season… ;)

What does your day-to-day look like as Barcelona SAE’s Student Advisor?

There is really no “typical day” as the Student Advisor, which is why I love my job so much! One day I may be interviewing a student who wants to participate in a Barcelona internship through us, another day I am advising a student on the different programs we offer, or on the visa process, and another day I am working with a partner company that wants to send students through us. It is great to have such variety – never a dull moment!

Your role focuses on student advising and campus outreach, what is the most frequently asked question you get from students? 

That is a tough one! I would say most of the students want to know how easy it is to pick up Spanish while in Barcelona since the official language is Catalan. The answer, very easy since the Catalonia natives speak both Catalan and Spanish, and are willing to speak Spanish with anyone willing to try.

While in undergrad you studied in Greece, and have traveled to a variety of places in Europe, what attracted you to work with a program focused on Barcelona specifically? 

I have always been interested in the Spanish culture, specifically the Catalan culture in Spain. It is very interesting! It is also such a vibrant and lively city, and one that is so well known around the world for its welcoming people, architecture, beaches, and overall culture.

Before joining the Barcelona SAE team full time you were an intern with them in Barcelona. How did this experience prepare you for your current role?

The internship through Barcelona SAE was amazing in preparing me for this role. In the Barcelona office, it is an “all hands on deck” kind of situation, so I was able to help the team and be involved in everything from cultural activities with the students and interns, to the mentoring program we offer, to intern site check-ins…it was very beneficial to my growth in the field and in this position.

You organize and lead some of the cultural activities and excursions when you are onsite in Barcelona, what has been the most memorable?

I would say the day trip to the Dalí Museum and Besalú was the most interesting. The Dalí museum was a fascinating experience, and Besalú is a secret little Medieval village dating back to the 11th century; it is so picturesque and unique!

You completed a Masters in Intercultural Relations at Lesley University, how has your degree helped you in your role at Barcelona SAE? 

In the Intercultural Relations program we learned so much; for my role here what has helped the most is the understanding about working within a different culture and how study abroad programs operate. I am better able to prepare students who are going abroad for the first time, or even for the second or third time. I appreciate my education and am grateful for what the program was able to teach me!

As the Student Advisor, how do you help participants prepare for the experience of studying or interning abroad?

Probably the most important aspect of the pre-departure process is getting the students and interns excited and making sure they feel fully supported along the way. We also do a pre-departure webinar so they know what to expect when they get onsite, and so they can learn a bit about the culture before they go.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give to a Barcelona SAE student upon their return to the U.S.?

There is a lot of advice I could give, but I think one of the main things I would say is to stay active and try new things. If you return to the same place a different person, redefine the place. Start a new hobby or sport, make new friends, and keep in contact with those you were abroad with so you can keep the experience alive. 

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your role with Barcelona SAE?

I would say sending students overseas to a whole new culture, knowing they will come back with a new perspective on life and the world.