Today I’m interviewing Gina Jacobson, a South African mum and blogger at A Bit Of This A Bit Of That now living in Israel. She shares her migration journey, challenges and adventures that her international move has brought her.
Where in South Africa are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Johannesburg. My family and I moved to Israel in December of 2014 and currently live in the city of Modi’in.
What do you blog about and did you start your blog before or after your move?
Wow, I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years now. I started off with a blog about my 1st pregnancy and then started my current blog which is all about my family, the adventures we have, including our move to a new country as well as all the recipes I try out.
What made you move overseas, when did you move and is it a permanent or temporary move?
We arrived in Israel in December 2014 and this is a permanent move for us. Our decision to move wasn’t based on a single thing. Rather a lot of different factors. Israel is an amazing country for our children to grow up. They have so much freedom here. Education was a big factor in coming here. Also, we are Jewish and Israel is our home, it just felt natural to live here. If it wasn’t Israel I don’t think we would have left South Africa.
What was the biggest challenge when you first arrived in your new country?
The language! I took Hebrew classes as a kid but I was very limited in what I remembered. I’m also not very good at learning new languages, even Afrikaans was a horrible mess right the way through school.
We have been here over two years already and I’m still not able to hold a proper conversation in Hebrew although I understand a lot more than I can speak.
My kids on the other hand are completely fluent. It took them about 6 months before they were speaking almost like native Israelis.
Did you ship all your household goods or start from scratch and why did you choose what you did?
Not everything but a lot.
We left our beds behind because Israeli apartments are much smaller than South African houses. I knew our king size bed wouldn’t fit and mattress sizes are different here so linen would be hard to get. We also left behind our lounge suite, mainly because it was old and needed to be recovered but also because it was really big and again, the apartment size was an issue. We also left our old tube style TV behind.
We took everything that was in our kitchen with, including all our appliances. In hind sight, I should have left the washing machine and bought a new one here rather but everything else I am glad we brought with.
We also brought our coffee table, antique dining room suite, two side board units, a bookshelf/hall stand and a few other odds and ends.
Looking back, I am glad we brought what we did, there isn’t anything that we left behind that I miss either.
How long did it take you to feel like you’d settled in?
That’s an interesting question. You see, we should have had our things delivered within a month of our arrival, instead it took almost 5 months before our lift arrived, so for 5 months we had our beds (we ordered them ahead of time to be delivered the day we arrived – Thank you IKEA!), 4 wooden chairs and a small 2 seater sofa that our landlords lent us and the few pots and pans we bought when we arrived. We ate off plastic plates with plastic cutlery, had no dining area or lounge furniture and had none of the small things that make a house a home.
The day our lift arrived was like angels singing. I spent the entire day unpacking everything and by the time I was done it really started to feel like home. It took us over a year to then put up photos and pictures and buy a lounge suite and a bit longer than that to get a TV, but I can say that this is now home for us.
How did you choose where to live (suburb/city)?
We had heard a lot about this city before we came here. It’s also very central in the country and it meant that wherever we got a job we would be well located. One of my best friends also lives in our city.
What resources did you use in planning your move (websites/forums/any print magazines etc.) and did you find them useful?
We made Aliyah (the Hebrew term for immigrating to Israel) through the Jewish Agency. They hold expos and have people whose job it is to guide you through the process. My biggest resource though, was other people. I asked a lot of questions to a lot of people. In person and online. I found listening to people’s personal experiences was a huge help.
Did your expectations match up to the reality of living in your new country?
Yes. It helps that I had spent a lot of time before hand in Israel. Not just on vacation but I lived on a kibbutz for almost a year when I was younger. But all in all, knowing a bit about the culture and what to expect was helpful. I think we also built up how hard it was going to be, a new culture, language, friends etc. and it seems to have been easier than what we thought it would be.
What is your favourite thing about living in your new country?
So. Many. Things! I love that I can take public transport, it’s safe, clean and reliable. My kids and I can walk around the neighbourhood (even at night) safely. The food here is amazing. The mix of cultures and people. It’s a small country so travelling anywhere doesn’t take very long. Jerusalem and the Western Wall. The Mediterranean Ocean. So. Many. Things!
What do you miss most about South Africa (besides family and friends)?
Highveld thunderstorms. Boerewors. Having a garden.
Do you see yourself living in your new country long term or are you planning to return to South Africa?
We are here to stay. I don’t see us ever leaving. This is home.
If you could give someone one piece of advice about life in your new home country, what would it be?
Not only for Israel but if you move anywhere new… Roll with the punches, go with the flow, don’t take everything too seriously. Shit happens. Jobs fall through. Language based miscommunications happen. Shrug it off and keep moving forward. Treat every day like an adventure. And most importantly have fun learning all about your new home.
And finally, where can we find you online?
Blog URL – http://gnatj.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gnatj/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/gnat_j/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/gnat_j
Are you a South African blogger living overseas? Or do you follow an awesome South African blogger overseas who you think should feature on Proudly South African In Perth? Get in touch with me and find out more!