Hi, my name is Talia Szekely, and I’m currently a student on Aardvark. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, I am lucky enough to be living in the vibrant neighbourhood of Florentine in Tel Aviv. It wasn’t until after a program in Israel during high school that I considered spending part of my gap year in Israel – my initial experience left me with a desire to go back and see and explore more. Sifting through the various programs offered, I found that Aardvark seemed to tick off a lot on my bucket list – living independently overseas, learning Hebrew, making international friends, giving back to the community, and seeing Israel through the lens of a local.
In less than a month, I’ve already experienced so much, both physically and emotionally. I’ve travelled the country, from Rehovot to the Golan Heights, seen some amazing views, and eaten some delicious food. I’ve even begun to work my way through my bucket list, with plenty of new friends from around the world, my own apartment situated in the heart of bustling Tel Aviv, and a meaningful internship under my belt. Whilst I have yet to master the Hebrew language, it is definitely coming along, and I hope that by the end of the semester, with some patience and dedication, I will be able to tick it off the list too!
I feel as though I am definitely beginning to find my place in Tel Aviv. Already, I have explored the city by foot, bike, and bus, have favourite cafes, market stalls, and spice shops at which I’m a regular frequenter, and I even get asked by Israelis for directions (although at this point, my Hebrew leaves me a bit useless! I’ll get there!)
I’m really enjoying my internship so far, which is at Ani Shlishi, a non-for-profit organization based in Tel Aviv that uses a second-hand clothing store as a medium to provide opportunities for self-advancement to Israel’s at risk youth. I have been working very closely with the founders to develop their social media presence and marketing strategies. It’s been very rewarding to feel like I am making a real difference, and I look forward to being able to do even more.
With 3 months to go, my journey has only begun. I can’t wait for the memories that are yet to be made, the lessons to be learned, the adventures to be had, the life-long friendships to be developed, and of course, the homemade apartment meals to be shared. I’m hoping to continue to travel within Israel, and I’m also very much looking forward to the Aardvark China trip later this year, which I imagine will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Over the next few months, I’m sure my independence will continue to develop, and I hope I’ll continue to learn new life-skills.
I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to be here, and I want to make the most of my experience. I look forward to what the program, and life, has in store!