Hi, my name is Gina; I am from, London, England, and I am studying on Aardvark in Jerusalem. I have grown up surrounded by the same friends all my life and for me, one of the goals for my gap year was to get away from the London bubble and meet new people, Aardvark has given me this opportunity and I have already made amazing new friends from around the world.
I have been to Israel many times with family and friends but have never spent any significant time in Jerusalem. I have been surprised at how much I love the city and the diversity of its people. From the buzz of the market in Machane Yehuda to the boutiques of Mamila and the spirituality of the Old City, there is nothing like it.
One of the reasons I chose to participate in the Aardvark programme was that there would be more independence and responsibility. This has already proved to be the case and it is fun to be with my flatmates doing the shopping, cooking and the cleaning.
I studied Hebrew at secondary school in England and one of my objectives is to improve the level of my spoken Hebrew. Thanks to our twice-weekly Ulpan classes, I already feel as though I can communicate with the locals in Hebrew.
As well as this, I currently have an exciting internship working with the Director of Communication of the Likud political party, translating articles for him and assisting him plan events, which is very interesting. I also volunteered at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital with children in the school there preparing them for sukkot, and it felt so special to give the children a chance to take their mind off what they were going through.
During my previous visits to Israel I have never visited or understood much about the settlements. It was therefore quite something for me to visit the home of my madricha, Shalevet, in the settlement of Psagot. Her family were so hospitable and from the window of her house we could see the town of Ramallah.
Aardvark is all about new experiences and having fun. Whether it is travelling to the north and swimming in the Kinneret, the Segway tour of Old Jerusalem or participating in the blessing of the Cohanim with thousands of people at the Kotel.
My experience on Aardvark so far has been amazing, and I look forward to the rest of this semester in Jerusalem and the next semester in Tel Aviv.