gap year in israel

Hi there! My name is Dani Starr and I’m from San Diego, California. I have spent the past four months in Jerusalem, and I have loved every moment! Next fall, I will be attending Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts, studying for a BFA in Musical Theatre with a minor in Integrated Marketing and Communications.
Taking a gap year was nowhere in my plans before Corona hit. The musical theatre college audition process is insane and I knew there was no way I could do it from across the world. However, after hearing what college would look like this year, I decided to defer and start looking at gap year programs. Aardvark Israel was one of the first ones I looked into. A friend of mine came on Aardvark three years ago and she absolutely loved it, so after talking to her, I knew it was the right program for me.

So far, the best part about being in Aardvark Israel is how much I’ve been able to see my family here in Israel. It’s been amazing to just get a phone call saying, “Come for dinner tonight!” and be able to just go. It’s also been so wonderful to be able to walk through the shuk every day…there’s always something cool going on in the shuk. I love that Aardvark takes us on tiyulim (trips) every Tuesday. Having spent almost every summer of my life in Israel, I’ve done a lot of things, but I have seen so many new places this year!

The thing that surprised me most about being here is how much I miss Trader Joe’s! I know that sounds stupid, but it’s so true! Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to exploring Tel Aviv next semester (and coming back to visit Jerusalem!). I can’t wait to see where all of our next semester tiyulim bring us; it’s always exciting to see where we get to go on Tuesdays!

My advice to future Aardvark Israel students is to make the most of your time here. You will get out what you put into this program, so put in everything you’ve got! Many people would describe a gap year as a year off. On the contrary, this has definitely been a year ‘on.’ Aardvark has not only given me the privilege to live in Israel, but has pushed me to become my best self. I am so thankful that I was able to come to Israel to spend my year here. It’s been a blast so far, and I am looking forward to the next few months with all the incredible experiences they will bring!