• Jodi Samuels

I Left South Africa 20 Years Ago Today



What a journey! 3 countries, 9 cities and 27 apartments before making Manhattan home almost 14 years ago!


Our adventures included living in the outback in Australia and the most remote parts of New Zealand. We got married very young and we had aspirations to make aliya and move to Israel. Gavin had a large student loan from medical school and there was arbitrage opportunities working as a doctor in outback areas where they paid a lot and we could take these dollars and pay off loans in Rands. We lived in small, remote communities that most people in Australia and NZ have never even heard of or visited. We have many fascinating stories that we have shared over the years. When Gavin was working for the flying doctor service he landed in a remote community with a patient in extreme medical distress. He had no choice but to do a complicated procedure with a nurse holding a text book open and the base hospital surgeon giving direction. Gavin used to travel to remote Aboriginal communities where he was the only access to the world and he would have to pick up mail, pharmacy supplies and transport people back and forth. We were of course the only Jews for thousands of miles and Shabbat each week included squeezing our own grapes for grape juice. We eventually lived in bigger places and finally moved to Sydney for 2 years before arriving in NY. Our journeys made us adventurous and adaptable! I managed to be the small town gal and big city diva all in one.


After living in New York City for 14 years I still feel like a foreigner. I love the city and feel comfortable but I will always feel like a South African in NY.


My lessons from living in so many places:

  • In each place you meet special people and I work hard at making sure that I stay in touch so we have so many rich friendships

  • We love off the beaten track places to travel

  • We love meeting and mixing with eclectic people and we have an incredibly diverse group of friends

  • Life often sends lemons and we are experts at making lemonade

  • You can plan all you want and life always has its own surprises, so go with the flow

  • Live life to the fullest, take advantage of every opportunity presented

  • Do not fear change as the things you usually fear are not things that land up challenging you

  • Always be involved and give back to the society and community you live in, you get even more back in return

  • There are only 3 things you have 1 of only – 1 mom, 1 dad and 1 reputation

I am so grateful for my wonderful journey that helped evolve me into someone who is excited about exploring the world,adaptable and engaged in the here and now. Travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer.


Originally published: January 13, 2017

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