Hanni Geist is the DAAD representative in San Francisco responsible for marketing activities in the Western region of the US. Hanni received her MA in North American Studies and Linguistics from the Free University Berlin, and her Masters in German from Arizona State University. She has worked with students, faculty and administrators in her position with the FU-BEST study abroad program in Berlin, as a German instructor at Arizona State University, and now as the DAAD representative in San Francisco.

Our DAAD network is a vast and global net of connections between DAAD and its award winners, ambassadors, alumni, grant holders, future applicants – all united by their love for study and research abroad and all things German.

So we asked Hanni a few questions about her work and experience in Germany (Interview published July 2017):

  1. How did you come to work at DAAD?
    I moved to the Bay Area in 2013 in the hopes of finding a position in the field of international education that would allow me to work with German and US higher education organizations. Coincidentally, my predecessor decided to move on with her career and I felt I won the jackpot when I saw the job posting for my current position two weeks after I moved. I feel the same way after 4 years with DAAD!
  2. What are you currently working on?
    In my role as the DAAD representative for the western half of the US, I continuously plan conference and university visits. As special projects, I currently work on integrating our scholarship recipients and Young Ambassadors in our social media presence to show their student experience in Germany. And I collaborate with the other offices in North America and German Universities to improving outreach via webinars.
  3. What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had?
    Bringing my own bags to the stores and quickly packing my groceries always is a very German experience. In Germany you basically become a packing expert yourself, with no help and small packing areas at almost all groceries stores.
  4. What advice would you give to students who are thinking of working in your field?
    International education is not necessarily a field you study [in Germany – Editor] , so it’s all about the skills and connecting with people in the field. My tips would be: Learn another language (or more!), go abroad (ideally for a year or more), and get work experience in an international or study abroad office. And then try to connect with other professionals in the field at conferences, workshops and local events.
  5. What advice would you give to students who are thinking of studying abroad in Germany?
    Learn German and think outside the box. In my position with DAAD, I regularly hear that students want to study in Berlin. I’m from Berlin and I love Berlin, but Germany has so much more to offer and there are excellent university in all German states. So, I would advise students: explore other options, keep an open mind and base your decision on where to study on the program and university that best fits your needs. You can always visit Berlin on the weekend.
  6. Which pictures, plants or unusual objects are there in your office?
    I have a small office that I share with the Goethe-Institute, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for decoration. But you can easily spot my part of the office: It has a vintage cat calendar and a mini Berlin skyline made of Lego.
  7. Can you cook a German meal without a recipe? If so, which one?
    I don’t eat meat, so most of my cooking is not very German. But I do love German baking and my all-time favorite is “Quarkbällchen,” German style donuts you can always find at Christmas markets.  I substitute quark with greek yoghurt.
  8. What has been your favorite San Francisco experience so far?
    San Francisco and the Bay Area as a whole is a great place to be, personally and professionally. On a personal level, I enjoy having the beach, national parks, snowy mountains, numerous hiking trails and a vibrant city all within a 3-hour drive radius. Professionally, the San Francisco Bay Area has given me the opportunity to work in the field that I love and connect with many other (young) professionals in the area. Two years ago, together with five other professionals in the field, I founded BAyPIE: Bay Area Young Professionals in International Education. BAyPIE aims to increase opportunities for engagement and collaboration among IE professionals in the Bay Area.

Learn more about Hanni’s role at DAAD as well as our Information Center San Francisco.