Immigrant Story: May

‘I’m a big believer in everything working out.’ May says this plainly and without false enthusiasm. ‘I can go somewhere else if it doesn’t work out here.’

Such an attitude befits young immigrants wanting to ‘try out’ Israel. But May is preparing for medical school. She can’t continue her degree abroad if she doesn’t like it here. That reality though doesn’t seem to phase her. She sees change as a medium for growth. Her experience of Israel is just as important to her as is her decision to stay here in the longer term.

Born in Tokyo to an Israeli mother and Japanese father, May spoke Japanese at home until the age of five. When she moved to Miami with her mother and older brother she began to speak English, but even then, they were still very connected to Japan. She and her brother spoke Japanese with each other, and her mother and father continued to run their company, importing Japanese toys to the US. She didn’t grow up in a Jewish community (such as Miami Beach or Aventura). Rather, she and her brother attended predominantly Hispanic public schools. Instead of summering in Israel and learning Hebrew on the weekends (like the other Jewish kids), they spent every summer in Japan with their father and grandmother. Largely at the insistence of their mother, they continued to study Japanese.

It wasn’t until university that she even considered learning Hebrew, along with Spanish of course. She majored in International Relations at Tufts University and in her third year, she studied at Ben Gurion University. She liked it: the warm weather, the earnest students, her mother’s large family (most of whom she hadn’t seen all that often). There was something about the place that was familiar–a little bit like Miami. When she travelled after her studies, Israel was the only place she missed.

So she decided to come back. She easily found a job, the online marketing kind, which she discovered was not what she really wanted to do. The lack of structure, the gibberish of Adwords, and the entire concept of B2B–she had expected to find something more meaningful. She stayed for a year, during which time she decided to apply for medicine.

May doesn’t make decisions on a whim. She considers the consequences, and without relying on outside judgement, she makes up her mind. ‘I’m going to do what I want in any case,’ she says, not flippantly, but simply as a matter or fact.

About the Author
Lauren Blanchard is an International Relations graduate from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Since moving to Israel, she has developed a habit of long distance beach running, dropping bits of wearable technology into the sea, and writing about start-ups and society.
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