gap year in israel
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael

Aardvark Israel

Immerse yourself in Israel! Strengthen your Jewish identity and connection to Israel through a customized year of internships, travel and dynamic learning. Our students live in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and intern at top startups, discover Jewish history in action, live in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, travel the world, study Hebrew, form lifelong friendships, and more.

Program Overview

Duration: 4-5 months or 9 months

Fall Semester: September-December

Spring Semester: January-May

Year Program: September-May

Living in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, our participants take full advantage of the cultural enrichment, night life, and convenience of the two most popular cities in Israel for today’s young adults. Designed for post-high school (gap year) students, current college students, and working young men and women ages 17-21, Aardvark Israel brings together a diverse group of students from around the world for:

  • Urban living
  • Professional internships and volunteering
  • Weekly field trips throughout the country
  • College-accredited courses
  • Countless enrichment opportunities
  • Optional add-ons allowing you to customize the experience with special interest tracks and international trips

Daily Life on Aardvark Israel

Living in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, participants will be able to take full advantage of the cultural enrichment, night life, and convenience of the most popular cities in Israel for today’s young adults. Participants will be immersed into Israeli society, meeting their Israeli neighbors, shopping for groceries in the local shops, and navigating on public transportation, giving them the chance to truly “live like a local.”
  • Jerusalem students live downtown next to Machane Yehuda, the famous outdoor market
  • Tel Aviv students live in the trendy Florentine neighborhood surrounded by young Israelis

Our modern, comfortable apartments are shared only by participants in the program. All the apartments are fully furnished and equipped with kitchen appliances and utensils, and of course WiFi. With the guidance of a qualified counselor, participants will learn to cook, clean, budget, do laundry, and live together with roommates. Understanding that this will be the first time most of the students are living on their own, staff will work with the participants in each apartment to ensure a positive group dynamic and the health and welfare of the participants. Throughout the program, the counselors hold weekly apartment meetings to facilitate and solve any issues which may arise. They will also pay friendly, regular visits to the apartments. As the year progresses, the participants will be encouraged to be more independent in their problem-solving in order to foster growth and maturity.
You will boost your resume, gain new skills, and meet new people through your internship or volunteer placement. Each week, approximately 16-20 hours will be spent in a wide range of internship and volunteering options. The program staff will also provide coaching and support throughout the semester/year in order to help you make the most of the experience. Examples of placements include: media outlets, top startups, archeological dig, hospitals, marketing, fashion, English teaching, non-profit, community gardening, zoo, and many more. Our placement coordinators will work with you to find the best placement to suit your interests and skills.
You will be surrounded by opportunities to learn throughout your time in Israel. The educational component of the program is woven into exciting field trips, dynamic guest speakers, and stimulating activities. In addition, students will participate in a Hebrew Ulpan. Whether you are a beginner or quite advanced, you will expand your vocabulary and become more comfortable in a Hebrew-speaking environment. Students may also enroll in other academic courses covering a range of Jewish and Zionist topics. Extracurricular activities and workshops are also available to students, such as yoga, spoken Arabic, and Jewish art. Up to a year of college credit is also available for successful completion of academic courses through our partnership with Portland State University. The following are examples of the academic courses typically offered on Aardvark Israel. Please note, minimum enrollment is required for a class to open and class offerings vary between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

  • Hebrew
  • History of Zionism and Israeli Society
  • Women in the Zionist Movement
  • Eternal Jerusalem – The Religions of the Holy Land
  • Middle East Politics: A Microcosms
  • Introduction to Service Learning
  • The Art of Reading and Writing
  • Midrash and Fantasy – Introduction to Midrash
  • The Arab Israeli Conflict
  • Jewish Medical Ethics
  • Contemporary Israeli Politics
  • Modern Israel Geography of the Land of Israel
  • Gender and Judaism

Every university determines its own transfer credit policies; therefore, to determine your eligibility to receive transfer credits for courses taken through PSU, you must consult with the university that you plan to attend after your gap year. When describing the program to your university, you should explain that you are enrolling in courses through Portland State University’s Department of Education Abroad.
Every Tuesday, students participate in educational field trips – exploring off the beaten path sites around Israel. From nature reserves, to historical sites, from museums, to fascinating communities, each week holds something new. Examples of trips include: Hevron, Graffiti Tour of Tel Aviv, Herodian (King Herod’s Fortress), Ein Mabua Natural Spring, the Temple Mount, Gaza Border Communities, overnight trips to Galil, Golan, Negev, and the Judean Desert, and many more!
Through evening activities, participants will have both social and educational opportunities to further enhance their experience. Options will include sports, social and cultural events, guest speakers, and leadership development activities. With an evening lesson of krav maga, a Moroccan Jewish cooking workshop, poyke on the beach, rock climbing, thINK (“I Never Knew” activity with our Jewish Life Coordinator), and more, students will explore the many faces of Israel and its society.

Students will also be able to take full advantage of their free time to visit friends and family, enjoy the local nightlife, travel around Israel, or enjoy relaxing time in their apartment with their roommates.

Special Interest Tracks

Customize your program with focused tracks in extreme sports, Jewish identity, Israeli army, first responder training, and more!

International Add-ons

Gain a deep understanding of diverse cultures and the global Jewish community through focused international trips throughout the year.

PLUS Summer Experiences

Add to your year or semester experience and extend your program! Spend the summer months on one of our plus programs with options in Israel, USA and Africa.

Locations - Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

Israel’s ever-growing metropolis, Tel Aviv, is beautifully set on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and known by the locals as the city that never sleeps. An anomaly in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is a cosmopolitan, open-minded, vibrant city that is also filled with rich history and diverse traditions from all over the world. As the center of the “Start-Up Nation,” the city boasts much more than its popular beaches. With an exciting nightlife and expansive cultural attractions, students will love living in this modern and diverse city.
The geographic and spiritual center of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, Jerusalem today is an advanced, dynamic city. Truly one of a kind, the city weaves together past and present, history and culture, excitement and spirituality. At the center of the city, the Machane Yehuda Market brings together the city’s diverse population and intertwines food, shopping, bars and restaurants. With a vibrant nightlife and transformational atmosphere on Shabbat, living in this unique and exciting city will be a wonderful experience for students.

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