Hailing from a tiny town in Germany, a three-hour drive from Frankfurt, EFer Daniela knew she’d eventually trade her small-town roots for something bigger. But growing up under communist East Germany, Daniela didn’t have the opportunity to explore outside her neighborhood—not until the Berlin wall fell down.
Daniela was seven the night the wall came down. “My parents put me in our car in the middle of the night,” she explains. “I was like, ‘what are you doing? Where are we going?’ They just said, ‘we’re going to the West!’”
They drove hours to get to Berlin, where everyone was celebrating. “I remember people greeting us, giving us money and chocolate,” Daniela says. “I got my first Barbie doll—I had never had a Barbie doll before.”
After that pivotal moment, Daniela’s family made it a point to get out and see the world, planning road trips every summer. “My parents would just put me in the car and drive 24 hours to Spain,” Daniela says. “They made me adventurous. I knew I wouldn’t be afraid to move somewhere because of that.”
It was Daniela’s first taste of seeing the world, and it prompted her to want to see more. She went overseas for the first time in high school, spending a month in Houston, Texas with an American host family. “It was total culture shock,” she says of her first trip to the U.S. “I definitely had to grow up much faster than my peers.”
The experience showed Daniela the benefits of cultural exchange, and how she could learn a language faster by being immersed in it. She wanted more—she decided to pursue a gap year abroad after high school, this time in a larger, metropolitan city.
Before she knew it, Daniela was on her way to Boston to work as an au pair for a family of three young boys. “I had a wonderful year,” Daniela recalls fondly. “The boys were a lot of work, but it was a really great family.”
Daniela says that being an au pair was so much more than being a nanny. “I also went to school and worked on getting credits for my degree,” she explains. “I immersed myself in American culture and learned English, much better than I could have in any classroom at home.”
During that year, Daniela’s trajectory changed completely. Out with some of her girlfriends one evening, she met a friend of a friend—he noticed her accent. They got to talking, and realized they had similar roots in Germany. You could say the rest is history.
“I didn’t want to fall in love,” Daniela laughs when she recounts meeting her now-husband that evening. “I was planning to stay in Germany!” The pair maintained a long-distance relationship while Daniela was at university in Germany, and four years later, she was ready to officially move to the U.S. “The moment I graduated, I told my parents, ‘I’m packing my bags and leaving!’”
Daniela did just that and moved back to Boston. She’s come to love the city—even if the bread isn’t quite as good as it is in Germany. “I love the lifestyle here, like the fact that people go running, and there are so many fitness classes,” she says. “I also love the feel of the city, there are so many cultures together.”
While in Boston, Daniela fell in love again—this time with EF Education First. Growing up in Germany, Daniela remembers seeing EF flyers pasted around her high school. “I knew people from my small town who were going to live and study with EF High School Exchange Year. I was always interested in the company.” As she learned more about EF’s mission of opening the world through education, she knew she had to work there.
Eleven years later, Daniela is still enjoying every moment of working at EF. “I love the culture, the mission, and the people at EF,” she says. “I’ve been able to work in so many different roles, from Travel Operations and Customer Accounts to Quality. I was always given the opportunity to do something new with the roles I took on. In my 11 years here, I’ve been able to wear so many hats—I don’t think I could have done that at any other company.”
As the Director of Group Sales for EF Go Ahead Tours, Daniela develops and mentors her sales team as they work with people to bring groups of friends on tours abroad. “We’re always innovating and trying something new, and I love that I can do it with like-minded people. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many smart, passionate, and driven people in my career here. They’ve all motivated me to do better and tackle the next big thing.”
So while she’s not here for the bread, Daniela couldn’t be happier with her life in Boston and at EF. “I honestly love coming to work every morning,” she says. “Where else can you work with people who inspire you every day, that you can also call your friends?”