Hannah is creating community through authenticity
If you are an international in Hamburg and you don’t already know Hannah, I don’t know what to tell you. She’s a Canadian immigrant who’s been living in Hamburg for around 7 years now and in Germany for over 8. At her day job, she is working in the Global Marketing/Event Marketing field, where she was constantly planning global events pre-panini, which has now shifted to more virtual events. She also works her online skills on her various social media platforms (here comes the part where you probably know her from). In her free time, you can catch her creating content, most likely for TikTok and Instagram, where she has amassed quite the following over the last couple of years. People follow her for her relatable takes on the foreigner life in Germany and tips to move and settle here. Aside from all of that, if she has any free time left, you can find her doing yoga, going for walks, dancing, or going out with friends.
Without further ado, keep reading to learn a bit more about Hannah’s journey in Germany and some of the things she’s up to now!
What initially brought you to Germany? And is it why you’re still here?
I like to say I came to Germany for love, but stayed for love of Germany / living in Hamburg. In all honest truth, I first came to Germany to test things with my ex-boyfriend after meeting him at a music festival once (it was pretty risky business inmo). That relationship worked for 6 years until well, it didn’t. When we broke up I was in a pretty big mess, but put myself together and found a way to become independent in this country – I did think about moving back to Canada many times, but then I became cozy here with a very fun life. I also have a great job which I wouldn’t be able to have in Canada – I get to travel lots around Europe (before covid) and put on amazing events!
What do you love most about living in Hamburg/Germany?
I love how Hamburg always has new layers to peel and cozy corners to find, also when you live in a nice neighborhood it feels like a small town, you don’t really need to go somewhere else (unless your friends taunt you with wine on the east side). Every neighborhood in Hamburg has a different vibe, so you always have a bit of everything. Plus, the city layout is easy to understand and seems very familiar to me as it is kind of like Victoria / Vancouver, Canada where I’m from! Many people say that when you live in Germany you have a different pace of life (compared to North America), and I enjoy that a lot!
Do you have any favorite German word(s) or expression(s)? Why do you like it?
‘Es geht’ and that’s probably how I describe my German level too.
Let’s talk about your German language-learning journey. How did you start, how has the process been, how do you feel about your abilities now, etc.
I was never good in languages. I failed and dropped out of mandatory French in High School in Canada. It was never a goal of mine to learn a second language, but somehow I ended up in Germany and now can speak one. Let’s just say it’s been a struggle, and I wish I tried harder in the beginning when I was less busy with work and had more time for courses. However, I’ve done everything from going to a Goethe Intensive Course, studied at German University and took endless evening courses, somehow now I have level B2 (officially) and was able to fool the immigration office that I am fluent enough. If you ask me I think my German has lots of room for improvement, the biggest problem is not speaking it enough. However, if you immerse me in German I can understand what is going on and am able to communicate as well.
In addition to your day job, you also run a group for international career-oriented women and queer folks in Hamburg. Why did you think it was important to start a group like this and what are your goals for it?
I started this group in 2018 after going through a break-up and needing a new sense of purpose. I have done unexpectedly well in my career in Germany, and I thought it would be great to share my knowledge, help others and get inspired along the way! I attended other Facebook Group meet-ups and could rarely find a good connection with women who had the same career aspirations as me. When I did my first meet-up in 2018 the feedback was that all the women came away with a new friend, someone who ‘gets them’ and can connect on a career and personal level. That was my goal and that’s why I created the group! We rebranded this year into ‘Business Babes Abroad’ and now we do big networking events too niche industry focussed meet ups and have over 700 members. I hope one day to expand into other German cities / globally.
You have been a social media user for many years, but in the last couple years you have achieved quite a following with your content about living in Germany as an expat/immigrant. What has been your biggest learning on this journey so far?
My biggest learning in creating content for Expats / Immigrants in Germany and abroad has been that your experience in Germany has not been unique, and many people have experienced those same, sometimes, annoying things! That’s how I’ve built my audience so much the last years is just creating content which is relatable, sometimes ‘questionable’ that gets people engaging, connecting or debating! Also, anything that you say online, someone will tell you that you are wrong, even if it’s right. I’ve also grown a very thick skin, and realized that some people love to hide behind their computer screens and throw unneeded shade. But it’s never about you, it’s about them – which has made me more resilient in life generally. However, for every 1 bad comment you have tons of supportive people who always have your back. I love the community I’ve created – and the friends i’ve made along the way.
You’ve been known as ‘Travels by Teslin’ for many years now due to your social media handles and blog, but you’re shifting now to ‘Hannah Teslin’. Can you talk about this decision and you’ve decided to make this transition now?
Travelsbyteslin was first a travel blog, as with my work I did a lot of traveling! However, when the pandemic happened all I had was my tiny apartment, so I started making content more about my experiences abroad, with less of a travel focus. Also, I didn’t want to be only a travel niche – and people often got confused with my username when all they saw was memes about life in Germany. Now my niche is more Lifestyle / Humour / Travel / Empowerment… somehow I’m going to make it all work! Plus, with the Business Babes Group, it makes more sense to have more of a generic username.
There have been so many articles about how the social media landscape is changing from less staged or curated content to being more authentic and down to earth. What’s your take on this shift?
I have been posting super authentic content since TikTok started, I’ve never been a film producer or advanced video editor, only been using one or two apps and the occasional transition. But somehow, I’ve gone viral multiple times from videos which took less than 5 minutes to make. Everytime I spend a lot of time perfecting videos, or making them look too ‘high-quality’ my videos don’t perform as well because my audience sees this as weird. I am seeing the shift on IG to this as well, although there are still many influencers who are still making dreamy looking fashion reels, which rarely works on TikTok. Basically, if you have one style of video you need to stick to it, because your audience will engage with this the most.
You’ve also been very open about your health struggles in recent years regarding your journey with endometriosis. Do you have any words of wisdom for women who may be struggling at different points in this journey as well? Especially when it comes to dealing with a major health issue away from family?
If you have a chronic illness, there are days where you completely forget it exists, and other days where you wonder how life was like before. I have been lucky with my treatment for Endometriosis in Germany, but many others haven’t. My biggest tip is to find a community of people whether online, or offline who have your illness, that can be your support group – and give you the best tips to find the care you need wherever you are!
Finally, in your opinion, what makes you a Power Frau?
- When I first moved to Germany, I was too scared to take a bus alone, followed my ex-boyfriend around like a puppy, was a underpaid intern & had no friends. After about a year and feeling slightly depressed – something had to change. I started doing things on my own and found my best friends & got a Team Lead position at work. But 8 years later..
- I’ve changed companies, been promoted 3 times and consult marketing strategies for 20 european countries advertising business
- (Previously) got to travel the world for work, did big events in places like Soho, London, New York and Stockholm
- Lived alone for 3 years in Hamburg, and did everything for myself
- Grown my Social media channels, running my own content-creation business and have over 60k followers with my combined channels and created a community of people who share the same struggles!
- And last but not least, started the Business Babes Abroad group, where our last meet up was Sponsored and had over 45 attendees.