Hoboken Resident and ‘Survivor’ Contestant Michele Fitzgerald Tells All

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For many of us, the thought of having to rough it can be a little bit daunting, to say the least. Shows like Survivor and Naked and Afraid can easily seal the deal that we’re not cut out for, well, fending for ourselves out in the wild. For some people, however, that survival instinct kicks-in and comes naturally. Michele Fitzgerald is one of those people. 

As a Hoboken resident + the winner of a previous season of CBS’ Survivor, Michele is back this year for season 40, which exclusively features all previous winners of the show taking their skills back into the wild. We had the chance to sit down with Michele and learn about what it was like being on the show, her goals for this year, and life in the Mile Square. Keep reading to meet Hoboken Girl of the Week + Survivor contestant, Michele Fitzgerald. 

michele fitzgerald hoboken girl week survivor

Tell us about yourself. 

I won Season 32 of CBS’ Survivor and am now about to be on Season 40, which is an all-winners season. I work full-time as a business development manager with Palace Resorts.

What was the experience being on Survivor like?

It was surreal. Pretty quickly the cameras fade into the background and your life just becomes the game 24/7 for 39 days. The levels of hunger, stress, and paranoia are horrible but then you have these intense highs from winning something or a blindside going your way and that excitement is indescribable. I did have a lot of time to also think about my life at home — things I miss, want to change, or do better so I found the experience to be really transformative.

What was the best part?

Probably the food — I was starving. Oh, and winning obviously.

See More: Meet Ewelina Augustin: Co-Founder of The Vegan Warehouse

What was the worst part?

Being starving, being away from family and friends, the hours of downtime, the paranoia, bug bites, lack of sleep, the rain, the cold, the heat, not having a bathroom/toothbrush/change of clothes…how much time do you have?

michele fitzgerald

What was it like being part of one of the show’s “tribes?”

You are stuck with these strangers on a tribe where you have to work together to keep morale up and win challenges, knowing in the back of your mind that if you lose, the person you are sleeping next to could try to vote you out. When we win, we celebrate together and when we lose, we mourn together. I guess we sorta become a little dysfunctional family. With all the downtime you grow very strong bonds and that love for each other can blind you and make a betrayal sting that much more.

What do you hope the outcome is for Season 40?

Me winning again, *obviously*. Also, I really want fans to love it and I want to make my friends and family proud.

What is the experience of being on reality TV like?

It has been so fun! I am now in this cool reality TV community and we have some real characters in our group.

What is the toughest part about being on reality TV?

I went on the show to have an adventure and was not really prepared for the viewing experience. It is easy to forget that we are on a TV show when filming because camera crews are always there and they are not allowed to communicate with us. So then I watch it back and can see someone tricking me and I get self-critical and wonder how I fell for it. People are not always kind on social media so that can be tough, too.

Where did you learn the skills you needed to be successful on the show?

Emotional intelligence is probably the single most important thing you need to have to be successful on Survivor. You need to be able to read a room and understand how people are responding to you and to each other. If you are annoying, lazy or paranoid, those little triggers can be enough to send someone home so you really need to pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues. I am not sure where I learned that or even if you can learn something like that. My sister is super emotionally intelligent so maybe I picked up on some of it from her.

How do you keep those skills sharp living in a city?

I am in sales so I try to sharpen that tool everyday. I try to engage with people who think differently than me, always stay curious and have a genuine interest in other perspectives. You can have one interaction with five different people and each person will have five different perceptions of that interaction. It is fascinating.

Who is your biggest source of inspiration? 

I am inspired by my friends and family. I believe in surrounding myself with people who are motivated and challenge me to be better. I really love “yes” people and try to keep them in my life because I never know what cool things they will introduce me to! Oh… and I’m inspired by Beyoncè, because, who isn’t?

What are your goals for this year? 

To work hard, have fun, and stay hydrated. Maybe to also win a little money on a TV show.

michele fitzgerald survivor

{Photo credit: @mich_fitz}

What’s a typical day look like for you? 

I am in sales and have a pretty big territory, so no two days look the same. But usually, I am driving around, meeting with travel agents, and educating them on my company’s hotels. Then I come home, have a glass of wine with my sister, order Grubhub, and watch reality TV.

Read More: Meet Kate Griffith + David Benavidez: A Hoboken Couple on Temptation Island

What has been the highlight in your career life so far?  

I think Survivor is the obvious answer, but I also traveled around Southeast Asia solo in my early 20s and that was a really transformative and wonderful experience for me.

What do you love most about living in Hoboken?

Living with my sister and The Madison.

Tell us about another business in the area you admire.

I promise I’m not just saying this but Hoboken Girl is the best honestly. I go to you guys for everything. I need a new stylist? I ask the Facebook group. A facial? I read your blog. Weekend plans? I check your Instagram story. You have so much information accessible for anything we could possibly need. It’s amazing.

michele fitzgerald hoboken

{Photo credit: @mich_fitz}

Hoboken + Jersey City Favorites 

What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?

The Madison, Carpe Diem, and Grand Vin.

What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken?

Luna Rosa has the cutest home furnishings and the owner is so sweet.

What do you love most about Hoboken?

The accessibility to the city, the community, the views, and the dogs!

What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County? 

My friends and I love to do escape rooms so we’re always on the hunt for new ones in our area. I have not tried the one in Hoboken/Jersey City yet, but that is next on our list.

How long have you lived and/or worked in Hoboken?

About a year now. My sister has lived here since 2012 and we have been visiting since college, so it feels like a lot longer. I have lived in a lot of places and Hoboken definitely feels the most like home to me.

What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in the area?

If I’m drinking, City Bistro or Porta rooftop. Otherwise, walking along the water or stopping at the dog park to say hi to all the Hoboken pups.

What is your favorite place to work out in Hudson County? 

I do Class Pass so I am always trying new things. SLT uptown, Bum Pilates, and Powerflow yoga in JC are my favorites.

Where do you go out with friends in the area? 

The Madison, Bin 14, Grand Vin, and Barcade.

What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken?

I would love a Barcade in Hoboken, and definitely more rooftop bars!

Catch Michele in Survivor on CBS on Wednesdays at 8:00PM. Keep up with her via Instagram @mich_fitz, Twitter @meeshfitz, and email at michelefitzgerald32@gmail.com. Good luck this season, Michele!

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Arielle is a born-and-bred Jersey girl and like a true NJ native, half her diet consists of bagels and the other half pizza. As a graduate of both American University and City, University of London, she’s been a passionate writer ever since she wrote her first “book” in the first grade. When she’s not furiously typing away at her keyboard, she spends her time ticking places off of her “to travel to” list, trying any and all new foods, and trying to stop herself from spending too much money at Zara.


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