Saskia received a Bachelor in Geography and French from the Humboldt-Universität at Berlin. During her undergraduate degree she spent one year as an exchange student in Montreal with a DAAD scholarship. Back in Berlin she prepared for a research stay in Syria in 2011 as part of her Bachelor’s thesis. After completing her Master’s in Physical Geography at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin she returned to Canada where she now works as an Education Abroad Advisor at the University of Calgary. Since 2016 she is part of the DAAD Alumni Board Canada.
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.
We asked Saskia a few questions about her work and experience:
- What sparked your interest in education abroad?
I have always loved traveling and languages. For that reasons I studied Geography and French decided to go to Montreal to study Geography in French. The exchange was the best part of my undergrad and upon my return I started to work in the International Office at HU Berlin as a student advisor. Since I permanently moved to Canada, I got more involved in German education through my work as a German language teacher and as an Education Abroad Advisor.
- What are you currently working on?
As part of the DAAD Alumni Board Canada I am working on promoting studies in Germany together with the University of Calgary. We currently prepare for our annual Germany Days at the beginning of October. Germany is country of emphasis in the International Strategy of UCalgary and I am working with many students each year who are going to Germany for exchange, internship or research.
- What was the most challenging experience you have ever had in pursuing research abroad?
In 2011 I spent 2 months in Syria for an excursion and to conduct a field work and research for my bachelor’s thesis which dealt with land use issues in Southern Syria. For this research I received DAAD Promos funding. Thanks to the great support from professors and students of Damascus University, my team from Humboldt University was able to collect all the data we needed. Though challenging due to many restrictions and increasing political instability, my time in Syria was one of the greatest learning experiences I had academically and personally, and until today I didn’t forget the incredible hospitality that I received there.
- What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had back in Canada?
The most German experience was a Schuhplattler dance performance at the Heritage Festival in Edmonton.
- What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study?
Most students in my degree program, Geography, loved to travel. Curiosity and openness to new things are very important, as well as the ability to look at a issue from different angles.
- What advice would you give to North American students and researchers who are thinking of pursuing research abroad in Germany?
Have some basic German language skills even if they can conduct the research entirely in English.
- Which pictures, plants or unusual objects are there on your desk?
I have a mini globe on my desk.
- Can you cook a German dish without a recipe? If so, which one?
Yes, it’s called ‚Quark mit Pellkartoffeln und Leinöl’ and it’s a popular dish in around Berlin in Brandenburg. It’s made from Quark (a milk product) that we mix with onions and herbs, boiled potatoes and linseed oil and it’s a typical peasant dish which my dad used to make nearly every weekend. It’s super easy to make and I love it but I don’t eat it so regularly anymore because I haven’t managed to find Quark in Calgary yet.
- Who has inspired you the most in your career and why?
My former manager at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Ulrike Brodien. She inspires me because she would go above and beyond for the students we worked with and she did her job with a lot of passion and joy. For 40 years she has been making a difference for many students, professors and staff at Humboldt-Universität.
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