Kayla Marcus is a second year Public Relations major with a minor in Dance at the University of Florida. She enjoys meeting people of different cultures and backgrounds, taking a variety of dance and yoga classes and riding her bicycle. Although she has never officially studied abroad before, but she did take an educational trip to Poland where she learned about Polish Jewish history and toured Jewish museums and concentration camps. The purpose of the trip was to spread awareness and build a Jewish future in a place where antisemitism is very much alive and many Jews still struggle with their Jewish identity. The trip was part of an exchange program through her synagogue where the Florida youth group traveled to Poland in the summer and met with Polish teens, and in the winter, the Polish teens came to Florida and we showed them the Jewish experience in the United States.
This summer, she hopes to continue to develop her Jewish identity with her Birthright trip to Israel. She is also attending a ten-day trip with other UF students from Hillel, led by tour guides all around the Israeli state, which gives her a great opportunity to explore and learn about Israel. She will then head to Tel Aviv University, (the largest university in Israel Israel) and take two classes in their summer program. During her stay at Tel Aviv, she plans on traveling to both the northern and southern parts of Israel.
When our trip advisor told us that we could only pack one suitcase, jaws dropped across the room and smiles were exchanged among the peers in the pre-departure meeting. That was weeks ago while school was still in session, and now it is time to pack my single bag and head to Israel!
I am travelling to Israel for nearly two months and my suitcase must not exceed 50 pounds! This will be a challenge considering the variety of items I need to pack for my multi-faceted trip.
I placed hiking boots at the bottom of my suitcase first – these would surely take up the most space. On my birthright trip, I plan on climbing Mount Masada to receive a rewarding experience, although there are other methods of transportation to reach the top of the historic mountain.
After birthright, I plan on volunteering with a group of young adults for a week to help rebuild Israel and explore some of the land on my own. I will definitely use these boots for hiking in the Northern Israeli city of Tzvat!
With the long hours of hiking and exploring outdoors, it is highly advised to wear hats. I packed a few lightweight hats to keep me cool during the hottest parts of the day. I also packed layers to shed because the days are intensely hot, but it dramatically cools off at night.
Then, I proceeded to stuff in a few long dresses for the Western Wall and Shabbat services on the weekend. I found that the Israeli work week runs from Sunday to Thursday, and many businesses are completely closed on Friday and Saturday for Sabbath observance. I already caught a glimpse of this when trying to contact Israeli organizations during the weekend.
With some loose Israeli-style pants and my favorite pair of Chacos, I am ready to seal up my suitcase and open up my bag full of goods in the holy land. Hopefully this gator has all that she needs to fully engage in a bunch of uniquely Israeli experiences! I can’t wait!