Daniela Mewes ‘07 was a shy, young woman from a small town of less than 2,000 in Germany when she arrived in the United States as an au pair in 2002.Her family and friends assumed she would return in two weeks or less, frightened and unsure about the changes she was making.Mewes, however, was determined to learn as much as she could about America – the country she dreamed of from the movies and TV shows she watched as a child.
While here, she enrolled at County College of Morris (CCM) and earned her associate’s degree in hospitality.Next, she traveled to London to earn her bachelor’s at Middlesex University in London.Now, at age 28, she is employed as a relocation consultant with Schweizer Relocation in Zurich, Switzerland, where she helps others make an international transition.
Coming to the United States and earning her associate’s degree at CCM, says Mewes, "changed my whole life." A stranger in a new country, who had never known anyone but other Germans, she was forced to adapt to a culture of great diversity."I was really shy and never talked to strangers," she says."But when no one is there to help you, you have to learn to open your mouth."
One of her strategies was to immerse herself in college life at CCM.She worked in the Academic Affairs office, served as president of the International Students Club and took part in CCM’s Student Ambassadors program assisting with familiarizing prospective and new students to the college.
As a hospitality student, she also was required to perform an internship, which she fulfilled by working as a guest services agent at the Westminster Hotel in Livingston. It was that experience and her subsequent work with Marriott, along with her good grades and her international exposure, that made her a prime candidate for her current position.
"Working with people who are making an international relocation, I can really put myself in their shoes," she says.
What she appreciates most about her career is its focus on helping people and its varied responsibilities.There is no typical day.One day she may be out inspecting new homes for a client, another she may be arranging for the shipping of furniture, and another may find her taking clients grocery shopping to acquaint them with their new neighborhood.
And while she sometimes misses her time in America, she and her boyfriend, Oliver, have found Zurich a great place to live.
"Zurich is so very international. We also have a lot of Americans here, so it’s a real connection for me when I can talk to them about the time when I lived there."