It’s not what you think…

In about 16 hours I will be boarding a plane back to my homeland of Miami, Florida and leaving Jerusalem and Israel behind after nearly 6 months of living here. Although I am excited for the two hour layover in Rome and for the hugs from friends and family that I’ve missed, it is certainly a bittersweet affair.

Israel for me, was not what I thought.

I generally like to think of myself as an open-minded person but I had my ideas about what this study abroad idea would be like. I would travel across the world, I would make a bunch of new friends, send letters to everyone back home, update my blog strictly every week, I would become fluent in Hebrew.

And then life happened,

I did travel across the world, visiting both Israel & Palestine (an adventure I didn’t imagine I would take when I first arrived) and picked up hitchhiking and couch surfing as valid methods of vacationing along the way. I did make a bunch of new friends but even stronger than these bonds where the ties I solidified with my roommates Kat & Giada who I travelled here with. They taught me that it’s okay to change your mind, and we all discovered lessons like never before about what it is to be an independent person in a big, crazy, intense city.

I did not send letters to friends and family back home but I did receive a couple, and I did not update my blog every week BUT I did have my phone stolen in Tel Aviv. I did decide to try a sort of lifestyle that involved not having a phone and not having internet other than coffee shops and free Wi-Fi areas so that if I did want to get online, if I did want to communicate, it was purely intentional… and I learned a lot from this even if it did get in the way of my pre-conceived ideas. I also managed to lose my glasses down a sewer and with help and a wooden pole fish them out!

I did not become fluent in Hebrew but I know enough to get by and certainly enough to annoy the heck out of my roommates when I start sprinkling it into my every day English language. Speaking of English! I wonder what it will be like to return to space where I know what is going on all around me, where I actually understand the conversations that are going on all around me, where I understand strangers…

Oh! Another adventure while abroad was in creating my own work that premiered at the Jerusalem Academy of Music & Dance June 19th 2014 and featured dancers/musicians from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Miami, and Chicago! I have it all on video as well as other pieces I performed if anyone is interested in checking it out.

Most notably as I return to the states is this lesson:

When I first got to Israel I also thought to myself “Debbie, you can be any one you want to be here.” Nobody really knew me, I could be vegan, I could ask to be referred to only as Freddie Mercury, really the sky was the limit on this one… BUT what I discovered was an uncanny and new ability to just be myself, 100% me. I have never been truer, more me, than I have been in Jerusalem and I am not losing this. This is the souvenir I bring back for myself, along with a shirt with a UF logo and “University of Florida” in Hebrew 😉

And now… I’m off to go pack!

All my BEST,

Debbie

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