Maggie is my soul sister, best friend and favorite travel companion. We first met at a bar in New Orleans after we both moved there to be teachers, applied for a lease together (with our other favorite girl, Lynn) the next day and the rest is history. From cooking all our meals together and lounging side by side watching eps in bed… all day, every Sunday… to cancelling our flight home from Thailand, we’ve been through it all. She is fearless when it comes to making change and knows exactly how to seize an opportunity. Really, she’s an all around #girlboss and is grabbing life by the horns, no matter where in the world that might take her.
What’s your favorite childhood travel memory?
When I was 8 or 9, we went to St. Martin with my mom’s side of the family – there was 12 of us in total. We took a charter flight at the suggestion of my grandparents (we didn’t really have a choice in the matter). Of course, the charter flight got cancelled on our way home. The hotels were extremely overbooked and crowded – I can’t remember exactly why – so 9 of us had to share a hotel room until we could get on the next available flight back to New York. My parents took the mattresses off the 2 full size beds in the room. My two brothers and I shared one mattress, and my aunt and my baby cousin slept on the other. My grandparents slept on one box spring, and my parents on the other. It was pretty miserable, but all in all a good memory. We never took a charter flight again.
When you hear “travel” what comes to mind?
YOU! Best travel buddy I’ve ever had. Traveling can really put a strain on relationships. I’ve heard countless stories of friendships ending or changing after traveling together. Ours was the exact opposite and I’m so grateful for that.
Aw, I love you and totally agree! So I know this is a hard one, but of all the places you’ve been, what’s your favorite destination and why?
Cambodia. Siem Reap specifically. In college I taught English there for 3 months with two amazing girls through an amazing NGO. And then obviously when you and I went back there last summer we had an amazing time. I love the atmosphere, the culture, and the people.
After we finished Teach For America in New Orleans and traveled in Southeast Asia for the summer, you decided to move to Israel. What inspired that decision?
It’s a pretty typical story. I did birthright my senior year of college, so when I graduated I applied to a teaching program in Israel and TFA. TFA was an opportunity I didn’t want to turn down, and I’m so glad I didn’t. When I was trying to figure out what to do next, I talked to my friend who had done the Israel Teaching Fellows. She suggested I look at other internship programs in Israel besides teaching, so I did. I was done with TFA, done with New Orleans, and ready for something new. I don’t think I really thought too much about it.
See what I mean? Totally fearless with change! How is living abroad different from your previous trips abroad?
It’s different because I live here. I can’t look at every day as how I’m going to explore and enjoy the city. Obviously I try to do that as much as possible, but I still have to work and do real life things, like laundry (which you know is my least favorite thing to do in the world) and go grocery shopping.
Is this something you see for yourself long term?
Staying here forever, I think it would be hard. I’ve thought about it, but honestly, I don’t think it’s a realistic future for me. I try not to predict or plan too far ahead. At this point in my life, I’m not prioritizing marriage or having a family. However, if in the future that’s something I want to do, I really want to be closer to my own family. It’s also getting pretty frustrating not speaking the language. It’s partly my fault – I really haven’t made as big of an effort as I could’ve. For now, it’s amazing. I’m learning so much, and I have job opportunities here that just don’t exist in the states (Tel Aviv has more startups per capita than any other place in the world, including San Francisco). I live a 5 minute walk from a beautiful beach on the Mediterranean, I love my friends here, and Tel Aviv is just a beautiful, welcoming city.
What was the toughest thing for you to overcome when you moved to Israel?
Doing real life grown up things in another language. Getting health insurance, paying bills, even reading my paycheck. It’s all in Hebrew. And while I can usually get someone on the phone who speaks English to help out, it’s still frustrating. You stress about little things that were just kind of part of life in the states.
What has been the most rewarding about your move?
A real connection to Tel Aviv and Israel. I’m not a religious person, but being surrounded by this many Jews and by other Jews my age who really care about their culture and heritage is something I’ve never experienced before. Living here has definitely made being Jewish a more important part of my life than it ever really was, and it really deepened the connection I have with the religion and the people.
What is your routine like in Tel Aviv?
Pretty similar to what it’s like in the states – except I go to the beach in my freetime. I go into work 9:30 or 10, come home sometime between 6:30 and 7:30. I go out more during the week here for sure. The weekends are a bit different. I have off Friday/Saturday instead of Saturday/Sunday. And Saturday is shabbat, so a lot of stores and restaurants close. Most people spend Saturdays relaxing with family and friends, and when the weather is right the beaches are packed.
How do you pack for an indefinite move abroad? I think this would be my biggest struggle!
You start the night before and freak out at your mom for trying to help but really she’s just making things worse. Kidding – kind of. No but in all seriousness, I brought clothes that were staples. Solid color tanks, tees, sweaters, and long sleeves. Dresses that are versatile – I can wear them to work or going out. Solid color flats, boots. Of course I treated myself to a few items. I have a floor length pink tulle skirt that I brought with me. Have I worn it once since I’ve been here? No, but I still love staring at it in my closet. I honestly didn’t stress too much because I can buy anything I need here (with a few exceptions). At home, I have like 3 or 4 winter coats. So I just brought one. I had to choose between the brown and the black boots (it was hard) and just one pair of toms (basic white girl problems). Keep it simple. Just bring the basics and your favorite can’t-live-without pieces.
What’s your typical travel style?
When we were living in Nola I remember telling you to always dress cute on the plane. I take that back. On a 10 hour flight I don’t give a shit what I look like. I just want to be comfortable. Traveling in SEA and living here has made me a more a casual person in terms of style (people wear jeans to weddings in Israel) and I think that’s how my travel style has developed as well. Be comfortable and bring appropriate, versatile clothes that can go to from day to night easily.
Good because I never look cute on planes! Jeans to weddings? This is common? How did you find this out!?
Yeah! I can’t even remember how I found out – multiple people have told me. Weddings are also on weeknights because you can’t get married on Shabbat. Obviously there are some formal weddings, but in general it’s a less formal affair.
I love your answer (above) and am totally using it – but also, what’s your travel style in terms of the way you tend to travel… what style of travel do you prefer?
Oh LOL! That’s way more relevant. My key to traveling is to strike a good balance. When I first started traveling, I thought that if every second wasn’t taken up by some new, cultural activity, the day was a waste. This, turns out, is just plain wrong and almost an impossible way to travel. I enjoy going, going, going and doing activities much more if I’ve had time to slow down and reflect at some point. There’s nothing wrong with killing a day on the beach, or even at the hostel’s pool when you know you’re going to spend the next two days hiking, trekking, or hopping from temple to temple. Give yourself a day to sit a cafe and drink coffee for a few hours (who are we kidding, you know it’s wine), after you’ve overturned every stone in every church. Plus, I’ve always found that I usually end up meeting more people when I’m in relax mode. You’re less focused on moving and more focused on the things around you – like hot European men with beards and piercing eyes ;). Balance also comes in terms of doing things on my own and with a group. Sometimes it’s great to go at my own pace, but there are just somethings that wouldn’t be possible (money wise or logistically) to do on my own. For example, the boat tours we did in the Thai islands, walking tours of new cities… These are great ways to meet people and do activities without committing to 10 days with the same crew and a tight schedule.
What are you dying to do next?
That’s a hard question. I try not to plan too far ahead. Some people have a clear idea of where they see themselves in a couple of years. I don’t, and I’m really really okay with it. (I can barely decide what I’m having for dinner or what to wear on a Friday night). I’m trying to get what I can out of being here. I love my job and my friends here. I don’t know exactly when I’m leaving, but I think I’ll know when that moment comes. My next move is home. I want to be around my family and friends for a good amount of time before I jet off again. Which I absolutely will do, so going home doesn’t scare me.
Thanks Maggie!! As always I miss you (and Cat) tons and can’t wait to plan our next adventure together!
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