gap year in israel

Mountains of maroon-hued spices line the streets and the yells from sellers and buyers bargaining in Hebrew pierce the air- it’s Friday afternoon at Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv. Throngs of locals rush past me, and it seems as if the entire city is shopping for the upcoming Shabbat.

My name is Carly Schain and I’m from Potomac, Maryland. During my first week here in Israel, I genuinely was overwhelmed with the barrage of new sights, smells, and sounds. With my high school friends comfortably decorating their first year college dorm rooms, I wondered if I had made the right decision to move across the world.

Whether it’s learning about the cultures of my Swedish and Russian roommates’ countries, hearing stories from the local supermarket attendant Vincent, who grew up in Gaza, or debating media bias with my Israeli Current Events teacher, Aardvark Israel has given me new insights and perspectives on the Arab-Israeli conflict like never before.

Aardvark Israel doesn’t just acknowledge the diversity within the program and beyond, they celebrate it, enabling me to begin my higher education with an open mind.

With regards to my internship, I knew that there was no better place to further explore my passion for nutrition than Tel Aviv – the vegan capital of the world. Each week, I immerse myself in all elements at a vegan bakery; from making mochi to calculating this quarter’s P&L, there is truly never a dull moment.

One of my favorite roles, however, is interacting with customers, most of whom are just as curious about veganism as I was. Slowly, one-time customers have become regulars, and in turn, I have formed many special relationships with local Israelis over our growing love of nutrition. The opportunity to advise individuals on even a small aspect of their diet has further cemented my interest in becoming a nutritionist.

I truly believe that I have flourished in the environment of Aardvark Israel peers and educators. In my new, faraway Florentin home, I have been blessed with the opportunity to deepen my self-knowledge, open my mind, and explore my professional interests. I will depart Israel, a more mature, confident, and open-minded woman but above all, I will leave with a longing to return to this beautiful country.