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Jo Savill

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Israel makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Israel, etc.

In 2010 I left a comfortable job in Australia to follow my love Amit to Tel Aviv after we met at a cooking class in Vietnam. It turns out that love is a wonderful reason to do exciting things in life.

Upon arriving in Israel I studied Hebrew, enjoyed the Tel Avivian life, made wonderful friends, and started working in a large company writing grants for Israeli scientists. I struggled constantly with the feeling that the job was not right for me, and left after a year.

I then started doing my own thing – as a freelance science communicator.

In 2011 we got married (twice) and we designated 2012 our year of entrepreneurship. We launched our language learning product Stick Around – language stickers for the home in February 2012, and are working hard to promote it now.

I love being a science communicator, but I want to do more. Amit and I are starting businesses in 2012 and we want to invite you along for the ride.

Sitting across the living room is Amit Turkenitz, who is the one I moved for. Amit is a still photographer, video producer, scriptwriter, blogger and director in the field of commercial media, and runs the photography business Fly on the Wall.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

When I arrived in Israel everything was so strange, new and exciting, and I wanted to share some of my observations and experiences with my friends and family back in Australia. I especially wanted to show what life was like in this strange country that usually only has bad things in the international media.

I’d started blogging in 2005 when I moved to Newcastle, England, so I resurrected my old blog to write about life in Israel.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

One of my most popular blog posts is “What to expect at an Israeli wedding” – they are so different to western weddings, and always a very fun experience!

Tell us about the ways your new life in Israel differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

I most certainly experienced culture shock for the first year I was living here, and even now, two years later, I still have moments of it! I’ve lived in quite a few countries (Australia, Japan, Canada, England), and have travelled to over 30 countries over the years, so I thought I’d be ok here. However, the culture here is more different that I’d imagined! It brought new challenges, and also helped me learn a lot about myself and my culture. I love the differences, and the mirror that it holds up to me and my life. 

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Israel? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I moved to Israel to be with my Israeli boyfriend (now my husband). Being open minded, well-travelled and interested in different cultures really helped me settle in here. And loving a good challenge helped too!

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

I’d had a cough for a week so it was time to see a doctor for the first time in Tel Aviv.

I go into the clinic and report to the desk, where they give me a piece of paper and send me off to sit next to the doctor’s door so he will call me in.

So I go and sit next to the doctor’s door, and he doesn’t call anything. It seems the way to see the doctor is to push your way through the door.

After 30 minutes I was really wishing that Israel had queues, lines, a doctor who went down a list of names, and people waited their turn, like in Australia or the UK. Lucky I had my book with me, to say the least.

Eventually, the waiting room was empty, and I finally got in. After waiting 40mins. The doctor started the meeting by saying “Why do you want to live here? People are so rude, I saw you sitting there but I didn’t know it was you who are on my list, and all these rude people pushed in front of you! Why do you want to live here? You are educated, polite, and well mannered. Israelis are so rude! Are you really going to stay?”

I laughed and said I was here because of my boyfriend, and that it will be much easier to push in when I understand Hebrew. I think he was still wondering why on earth I’d want to live here, rather than in Australia.

Result: He gave me some drugs for my cold, and they were free! And I’m going to learn how to be more pushy…

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Israel?

  • Be open minded, genuine, and when things get hard, laugh about it.
  • Don’t think that everything back in your home country is better than Israel – just think that it’s different! Comparing life here with back home will just make you homesick.
  • Try to learn Hebrew, but if it’s not working for you, don’t beat yourself up: it’s hard!

How is the expat community in Israel? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The Ulpan is a great place to meet people, particularly in Tel Aviv at ulpans like Ulpan Gordon. I made some great friends there. Follow up all the connections people give you too – there are so many great expats to meet in this city!

How would you summarize your expat life in Israel in a single, catchy sentence?

Great food, great people, life in the 24 hour city of Tel Aviv is amazing!

Alberto Mendez

"The InterNations events in Tel Aviv have given me a great network of friends and really fun get-togethers to attend."

Therese Yeboah

"The events in Tel Aviv helped me meet expats from all over the world for professional and social purposes."

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