When you make the choice to come and study in Israel, it’s hard to imagine being away from your family and friends. You wonder how you’ll fit into Israeli society, how you’ll deal with the Israeli administration, how you’ll manage at school, how you’ll make your own food, do your own laundry… The list goes on. Don’t worry and don’t panic! I’ve been there and I’ve learned quite a few things already, and I’m going to share them with you.
You may be beginning to adjust and calm down, and you may not be there just yet (which is also okay). You’re probably in disbelief that you’re actually here, in Israel, and that you won’t be home for months. You’re exhausted and you’re moody and that’s okay. We’re here to remind you that everything you’re going through is completely NORMAL. You don’t need to believe me just yet, but this really will be an incredible year. A year of fun, a year of laughs, a year of new friendships, and a year of growth. You definitely made the right decision by coming to Israel this year.
Here are a few tips and apps that will make your life easier so you can fully enjoy this amazing adventure you’re on.
Now that you’re more or less independent you get to take on the joy of how to get a Shabbat invite. People know that girls always need places for Shabbat and are always inviting them over for a meal or two. But, it can be really hard to reach out to people that you don’t know well and ask for an invite. It also doesn’t help that you need to have your Shabbat plans organized by Wednesday morning, which means in reality as soon as Shabbat is over you already need to begin to plan for the next week. Of course your seminary would never leave you to fully fend for yourselves, they keep a current list of families that have offered to host lovely girls for Shabbat. You can always stay at your dorm and cook for yourself, the catch being you must always be with a friend, and often they are always away for Shabbat.
I have heard many stories from many seminary alums that they always felt very welcomed and had amazing experiences meeting new people over these Shabbatot. But, there is always that rare chance that a host family takes advantage of you and tries to use you for household chores and childcare. While this can be a good life skill to help for the future, don’t feel obligated to do something that you’re uncomfortable with; Shabbat is supposed to be an enjoyable time. You should also check out a new program “Anywhere in Israel” that helps gap year students to choose places that interest them. You can pick communities and locations that they want to visit and the program takes care of the rest.
I also suggest to check out the following:
Overall though if you keep an open mind you can benefit so much from the hospitality of others. It is a great way to see how different families share Shabbat.
Nothing can possibly prepare you better for your future than what you’re about to do over these next few months. All of these gap year programs are designed to allow you to grow and learn in the most positive of environments. This isn’t school and won’t be graded or punished. It’s all up to you and attitude is everything. So push yourself. Seize every opportunity thrown your way.
Have deep conversations. Learn from the people around you- whether they’re your teachers, lecturers, peers, or bus drivers. Get to know the land, it’s yours. Be open to new ideas. And most importantly, let this year change you. That is what you’re here for, after all…
As always I look forward to hearing from you and stay tuned for my next blog, top apps for getting around town.