As international advisor, Natalia provides immigration counseling for international students, staff, faculty, and visitors; she also provides cultural and social support and organizes events. She has learned over the two years she’s worked here that constantly interacting with Juilliard’s international students “makes for a most dynamic work experience.” Natalia was raised in the Hudson Valley town of Highland, N.Y., which, she says, is “known for its picturesque landscapes and outdoor lifestyle.” She earned her bachelor’s degree at SUNY Albany, where she majored in English with minors in French and psychology, and has also completed coursework toward a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Teachers College of Columbia University.
Fun Facts: About one-third of Juilliard students hold international passports, and while many of them come from countries such as China, South Korea, and Canada, the diverse international student population hails from 39 countries.
What’s one of your favorite Juilliard memories?
Attending the culminating actors’ workshop last spring, of which several international students were a part. The workshop was so illuminating of their talent and afforded me the opportunity to see their many hours and tales of rehearsal come to life.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
It would have to be that of a Juilliard photographer. I would love the exclusive access to the many events and performances, and imagine that I would engage more intimately and perceptively in moments here at Juilliard.
What are the hardest and easiest things about working in International Advisement?
The hardest thing about working in International Advisement would be when a student violates his or her status and I must be the bearer of bad news in communicating the negative consequences. The easiest thing is interacting with individuals from across the globe whose presence provides a daily dose of enrichment. They have unique cultural and historical backgrounds and I’m always eager to delve into them.
What’s the craziest day at work you’ve had?
It would have to be orientation day for international students. On this day, we introduce more than 100 students to a wide range of topics, from immigration regulations to cultural adjustment. Many of the students are still jet-lagged, but they’re also wide-eyed and with a detectable excitement about their new adventure.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
I live in the East Village, so I would begin my day with a Yoga to the People session on St. Marks Place. I would then grab a friend and go to brunch in the neighborhood, or sprawl out in Battery Park with some artisanal cheese and red wine.
What is the most memorable job you’ve had and what can you tell us about it?
My most memorable job was my previous one: serving as an international student advisor at ELS Language Centers, an English-language school in downtown Manhattan. I counseled international students through the cultural adjustment process, served as a liaison for the student and host family residences, and led weekly cultural outings for students to familiarize them with New York City. As housing coordinator, I oversaw international students’ adjustment to their housing assignments andlearned to be quick in resolving problems and conflicts as many colorful living situations arose. I would assign several different nationalities to a single suite and I loved to watch friendships unfold.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
One is volunteering for and preserving the community garden in the East Village to which I belong. I enjoy sharing this small patch of greenery with the surrounding community and passersby in addition to supporting the events and activities held there.
What was the best vacation you’ve had or where would you most like to travel?
Choosing the best vacation I’ve had would be far too difficult, as each vacation has held a special meaning for me! The next place to which I would like to travel would have to be Brazil, to reconnect with many of my former students. I’m so drawn to Brazil’s vibrant color landscapes, rich food culture, and relaxed style of living. With its spirit and natural beauty, I feel as though I might never leave!
What might people be surprised to know about you?
People might be surprised to know that I am bilingual in Polish and English. My mother immigrated to the U.S. from Poland, and I have summered in Poland each year visiting my relatives. I also learned French throughout my schooling and had a study abroad experience in the south of France.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
The diversity, both of people and of experience. I enjoy encountering people from different life slants with varied interests, views, and opinions, and I never cease to marvel at the pulse of N.Y.C. and the unpredictability it brings to everyday life.
What are you reading?
I am currently reading Anna Karenina, which I began on a recent trip from Poland to Prague. I am taken with the attention to detail in Tolstoy’s writing, as well as the unraveling of his many characters and situations.