Some websites provide helpful information on places to visit in cities throughout the world. Others offer basic information for people hoping to study abroad. But none, according to Emory University senior Sydney Hertz, give all the answers you need when you are planning to live overseas.
The 22-year-old student — who comes from Saddle River, where her parents, David and Sharyl Hertz, still live — decided to fill that need. Together with friend and fellow student Alexandra Warren, Ms. Hertz created All Things Abroad (www.allthingsabroad.com) for anyone who is looking for that more comprehensive website.
The idea for the site arose two years ago, when, as sophomores, Ms. Hertz — who is working toward a double major, in Jewish studies and English, and is a member of Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley — and Ms. Warren made plans to study abroad. “We thought about going to Tel Aviv, but the program had been canceled the year before because of turbulence. So we chose London instead,” Ms. Hertz said. “We started looking for a resource for all our questions about studying, traveling, and living abroad. There were some resources online, but we didn’t feel there was a cohesive resource to answer all our questions. That was surprising to us, so we decided to start All Things Abroad.
“Our site offers something cohesive,” Ms. Hertz continued. “It’s the place to answer any questions about studying abroad. We’re working on a place on the site where you can post questions” if the answers are not already there. Visitors may choose simply to read the articles on the website, grouped by both topic and city.
“For example, they may want to find out about fitness and well-being” resources in the place they’re going, Ms. Hertz said. Many sites include articles based on second-hand information. But on her site, “articles must be written from experience, by people who have just been there or are planning to go. For example, there might be a piece on how to have an inexpensive trip to Jerusalem. The writers will say what they did. It’s authentic.”
Writers for All Things Abroad are not paid; nor are the editorial or marketing teams. “We did pay initially, but it wasn’t much,” Ms. Hertz said. And most expenses — including hiring a web designer — were upfront. For that, she said, “our parents helped us out,” adding that her parents are “dedicated and very excited” about the project.
“We’re still figuring out how to monetize the site in some way,” she said. “We want to bring in money and grow the site, but we also want to stay true to our goal of authenticity, not to include anything we haven’t actually experienced.” While writers do not receive money, “it’s a valuable entry to put on a resume,” she said.
Both co-CEOs care about Israel, and it shows. “One of our most utilized and popular destinations on the site is Tel Aviv, and we believe that the articles in this portion of the site are an incredible resource for individuals studying abroad in Israel, families traveling to Tel Aviv and surrounding cities, and students going on Birthright,” Ms. Hertz said. In addition, “Our authors have published articles featuring other locations of particular Jewish interest. For instance, one article focuses on essential sites to visit in Berlin, primarily memorials and museums honoring the Shoah.”
The site was launched in September 2015. Most of the original writers were from Emory, but as the site drew interest, particularly through social media, other writers, from other universities, volunteered their services. While the writers, and most of the people studying abroad, are mostly millennials, “our goal is to reach people of all ages,” Ms. Hertz said.
“What’s really important — and the reason for our name — is that we want it to be a resource for anyone traveling or living abroad. While right now most of the articles come from the younger age group, we’ve had articles from people in other age groups as well. Our goal is to make it useable for people of all ages. In addition to articles, we have a section called Quick List, which has things like where to go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all varied by price range.
“Being on a college campus is an incredible resource,” she continued. “So we started here, and found our first writers. The Emory campus was our first network — people we knew, fraternities, sororities, social media. People contacted us even before we launched. We got the word out with a Facebook page and an Instagram account. We found writers among people going abroad and those who had just gotten back.”
Ms. Hertz said she would very much like the site to be of interest to the Jewish community. “From the first day we launched, we had Tel Aviv as a destination,” she said. “It’s extremely popular in our circles, for those planning to study abroad, and as a travel destination.” In addition to information about the city, the site includes information on Israel itself, how to make a phone call, restaurants, and the weather. It also suggests ways to spend weekends.
“One writer from Emory just graduated and is moving to Israel to study at Neve College for Women in Jerusalem. She’s committed to writing articles about her experience. We also have a bunch of writers studying in Israel this coming semester who are planning to put something together, and we have a wonderful relationship with Birthright through social media. We’d love to support it because it’s incredible.”
She’s been interested in history from the time she was young, Ms. Hertz said, and her entire family loves to travel. That combination, she said, has been very helpful in her work. “We’re trying to build a community of people who love traveling and want to talk about it. It’s directed to everyone — older and younger and from all socioeconomic backgrounds. At heart is a desire to build a fully integrated community coming together through their love and passion for traveling. It’s important to us — and I think it’s achievable.
“One way to reflect on your experiences is by writing about them. We’re getting great feedback from writers, who say it was an enjoyable process to think back on their travels. Many people are craving this kind of opportunity, either to get involved or to read about another’s experience.”