gap year in israel

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  1. Independence –  Before I came to Israel, I didn’t realize how dependent I was on everyone else around me. While I can get around in a few places, I always needed someone else to lead me. I was scared to come here because I thought I’d be sort of dropped with no direction, but instead, I was taught to find my own skills and work through issues myself and with others if necessary. I am excited to use these skills when I am home and be able to grow and adapt even further. I went from not being able to take a train myself, to now learning how to take a bus, learning how to shop for myself, and even going on little adventures by myself.
  2. Budgeting – While I will still need to work on this for a while, I have found that this is a category where my peers and I are both learning in. Towards the beginning of our Aardvark experience, we would go out for dinner so often and just spend, spend, and spend some more. Now we are so much better at tracking and checking out bank accounts. Also, I definitely appreciate the sacrifices my parents have made for me once I’ve really seen the value of money as I’ve experienced here that not everything is cheap!
  3. Life Skills & Street smarts – When I got here, I for the first time, realized there were a lot of things I still needed to learn how to do. For example, something as simple as using a kettle, I’ve never had to learn as I had the machine for it! Even making rice, I am used to microwaving rice. I know this sounds crazy, but there are so many little things that when we are taken out of our environment, we learn very quickly. I also had to adapt to using my street smarts, knowing where would be safe to walk alone and not. Also being safe about making sure my friends are always okay too!
  4. New Experiences – I have never lived in a city before. At home, I visit New York City a lot, but never lived there and it’s completely different. Living in Tel Aviv has given me a perspective that I have never understood before. In my town, things are usually not open past 9-10 pm most days, and here, it’s always so busy, except for the holidays. Seeing the drastic differences has made me think about where I’d want to live as I get older. Also, I don’t live near any big nature parks or really any places to do the exploring. Here, on the trips, we have seen so many areas where we are shown all different places in Israel, and it’s really fascinating as I’ve never seen anything like it before!
  5. Meet new people – The first time I got to my apartment, I was a little bit intimidated. It was my first experience meeting so many people from Australia. Something really amazing about Aardvark (that I believe makes it stand out from other programs) is that you are spending time with people from all around the world. I could have picked a program where I was just with other Americans, but what would I have been learning? It’s been one of my favorite things to speak with people from other countries and hear our differences and similarities. I’m going to cherish this part forever and go home with a new world perspective I believe.
5 reasons to take a gap year - rachel katz