Arrivals: Georgia Levy, 13

"I feel much safer here. In Manchester I couldn't go out alone anywhere."

Georgia Levy 88 248 (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Georgia Levy 88 248
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
At 13, it's not easy to say good-bye to friends, home and school and travel to a distant land. Georgia Levy, who made aliya with her family in July 2007 from Manchester, England, admits there were times when she was very unhappy and found things impossibly difficult. "The first two or three months were really frustrating," she says. "I used to miss my friends terribly and reproached my parents for bringing me here." Today Georgia understands why she came, is very happy and would never want to go back and live in Manchester again. Not only did she exchange the perpetual grayness of the UK's largest northern city for the sunshine of Israel, she also thrived in the new life, maturing into a determined young lady with definite ideas. "In Manchester, I used to take a babysitter for her and the other children," says her mother, Janine. "Here she's the babysitter for the younger ones." "I feel much safer here," says Georgia of her life in Ra'anana. "In Manchester I couldn't go out alone anywhere, but here I and my friends go out and walk around the town until late and we're not worried at all." FAMILY BACKGROUND Georgia is the oldest of four girls. Now 14, she has identical twin sisters of 11, Honey and Annabel, and a baby sister of five months, Mika. Her parents are Janine and Aarran Levy. Her father runs his textile business and goes back to the UK every month for five days. BEFORE ARRIVAL Georgia lived in Whitefields, Manchester and went to the Yavne Girls School in the city's Crumpsall neighborhood. Although she says it is a very Zionist school, the authorities there did not, apparently, think teaching modern Hebrew to be important enough to include in the curriculum. So Georgia came here with the handicap of not being able to speak a word of Hebrew. However, as the family owned an apartment in Netanya, she had spent many holidays here, so moving here permanently was not the culture shock it might have been. The difficulties only really began when the school term started in September. UPON ARRIVAL The family went straight to the Netanya apartment and stayed a week. Before leaving Manchester, they'd had a big emotional farewell for all their friends and a few days later met them all again on the beach in Netanya. "I had a great summer," says Georgia, "and then in September I started at the Amit Renanim Middle School in Ra'anana." ADJUSTMENT Although Ra'anana has a large English-speaking community, the first few months of school were very difficult for Georgia. In Manchester she had been in e-mail contact with a friend who had made aliya six months earlier and who had warned her that walking into a strange Hebrew-speaking school would be scary, so she knew what to expect. Socially, too, the adjustment was hard. "I'd started having a good social life in Manchester about six months before we left," she says, "and I really missed my friends. But we talk on Skype to each other. I also keep contact with my grandfather in England through Skype. My other grandfather lives in Netanya." She began to learn Hebrew in the school ulpan and was the only immigrant who had no background in the language at all. From being an A student in England, she found herself in a situation where she couldn't understand what was going on in the classroom. But she found the Israeli girls really kind and friendly and wanting to help. "Round about Pessah it finally clicked and I began to understand a lot more," she says. "Now, I wouldn't say I was fluent yet, but my Hebrew is a lot better and I understand almost everything. "I cycle to school - something I could never do in England because it was usually raining and anyway it was too far - and get home about 3:30. Twice a week I have a tutor to help with homework." Besides going to the local Bnei Akiva youth group, she likes to go to aerobics and spinning and is interested in drama. Says Janine, "In England she led a much more sedentary life - she was in school until 5, when it got dark, so there were no outdoor activities after school. Our only regret is that we didn't come here sooner." LIVING ENVIRONMENT Home is a modern semi-detached villa on a leafy street not far from the center of town. She has her own bedroom as she did in Manchester. FINANCES Babysitting gives a steady income. OTHER ACTIVITIES She enjoyed a school trip to the Negev, hiking through the desert and visiting a Beduin tent. That was the trip when she began to get more friendly with the Israeli girls, although even today they consider her to be a stereotypical British girl and want her to be less formal and shy. She's been to summer camp and enjoys going to the Kinor David Synagogue where the community has made the whole family welcome. She likes the things most teenage girls like - pop music, shopping, makeup and going to the movies - and would like to study art some time in the future. PLANS "I'd like to write a teenage guide to aliya," says Georgia. ADVICE TO OTHER IMMIGRANTS "Make friends with Israelis and try and fit in with your surroundings." To propose an immigrant for an 'Arrivals' profile, please send a one paragraph e-mail to: