I’m the last person that anyone would ever expect to be calm before, well, anything. My most popular expressions include repeatedly saying, “are you sure about this?” and “But what happens if…?”. While I’m cursed with this innate cautious side of my being, I constantly find myself searching for new ways to push myself out of my comfort zone. For one, I did choose to attend UF, a school 1400 miles away from my hometown in Massachusetts. Now I’m setting my sights on my summer abroad in a country the size of New Jersey in the center of the Middle East. This summer in Israel won’t be my first, however, but I’m itching to return and create a new plethora of memories from a new perspective of life. My mind has been racing thinking about re-uniting with old friends, inhaling falafel and Aroma ice coffee, and most of all, making my mark as a gator abroad. Although I spent over a month in Israel four years ago, I still find it so surreal that I have a printed El Al airline ticket for a date just ten days away to return back.
My previous trip to Israel was a leadership- oriented tour of the entirety of Israel. We were a young but large group of high school teens following our tour guides like a trail of ducks through every landmark, hiking trail, and kibbutz on our itinerary. While sometimes three- hour hikes weren’t always celebrated, I feel fortunate to have learned discipline and confidence, in addition to the appreciation of a new culture. Now, I’m excited to approach Israel from a new angle; a college student ready to conquer a journey of learning, growing, and teaching the gator chomp to the Tel Aviv University community.
My first ten days in Israel will be courtesy of Birthright, a free ten- day trip offered to Jewish college students and young adults. My itinerary is nothing short of incredible, featuring a day at the Golan winery in the north, Shabbat in the Old City of Jerusalem, and the infamous camel trek across the Negev desert. These are just a few of the amazing memories waiting to be created before us. From there, I will spend the remainder of my time in the modern and bustling beach side city of Tel Aviv. My classes encourage the exploration of the city and my assignments force me to look into the history and foundation of the success of Israel. I will learn alongside other English-speaking students, but be surrounded by the native tongue of Hebrew and the Israeli culture.
One regret I have of my previous travels, was not taking advantage more of the precious and unique opportunities I was granted. I was always thinking about how tired I felt, and how hot it was, not realizing how these were just small technicalities of a larger picture. This time, I want to focus on the positive side of every situation and think about the overarching theme of why I chose to go abroad.
Am I anxious for this next adventure? Of course. Am I worried about every details going right? You bet. But underneath it all, do I know that I’m about to have an unforgettable two months halfway across the world? Absolutely.