gap year in israel

Check out our social media to see what our students have been up to this past week!

Tel Aviv January 14, 2017

Shalom Parents!

The students are about to finish their first week on Aardvark. We have had such a busy schedule this week that the students said that each day felt like an entire week!

The first day began at 7:00am when we welcomed the first students to arrive at the airport. It developed into a day full of excitement, worries, introductions and a fresh start for everyone!

I spoke to the group on the first night and began by asking “Why are you here?!?”
I received a variety of answers. Some said that they are here to develop their minds before starting collage, some said they are here to expose themselves to a new culture. Rikki Studencki said that he is very excited about his time here and in particular wants to discover why Israel is called the start-up nation. Sarah Ekwall said that she is fascinated by the Israeli Jewish state and eager to start living here like a local. In the talk I gave the students some new concepts and ideas relating to how they should shape and design their first semester. I hope that they have embraced at least some of the ideas.

The Madrichim then began an introduction activity. The students filled in a bingo card about each other followed by a guessing game about the madrichim. We (and I say we because I also discovered some new facts) learnt some very interesting things about them!

On Tuesday we began with amazing food tour at the Levinski Market. The students then met in their apartments to decide how to budget their money for grocery shopping, cleaning supplies etc. They had to make a number of decisions such as what they will buy with communal funds and what will be purchased individually, how often they will go shopping, what general things will be bought for the apartment, how many times a week they will eat out and so on…

Later on that day the students chose between a bike tour and a graffiti tour. Both were pretty amazing. The bike tour took them from south Tel Aviv to the north of the city and back again.

On Wednesday morning we left Tel Aviv for a Tiyul (Trip) to the Yehuda Desert.
The first hike was called “Metzukei Dargot” (Darajah Cliff) and it presented us with some outstanding views of the desert before we finished the hike with rappelling!

After that we went to Arad where we spent the night. When we got there the students had some free time to shower, eat a warm dinner and rest a bit. Then we talked with them about safety & security in Israel, where they should and shouldn’t go, the different protocols in case of different emergencies, etc.

At the end of the day the traditional evening activity took place in one of the hostel’s big halls, “The Battles of Continents“. The group was divided into continents and each continent needed to prove why it is the best. For example, Noa Sperber came up with a rap song about Europe that could easily have been written by 2Pac while Limor Katz bravely represented her group by identifying Israeli food with her eyes closed. They then played a worldwide Kahoot trivia with multiple questions about different cultures.

I hope not to disappoint any of you (some of the students found it hard to accept) but the winning group was from…. Australia!

The second day of the Tiyul was fantastic – the students got to choose the hike that they wanted to do. They had the choice between “Masada” and “Nahal Tamar” (Tamar Stream). Each of the hikes is challenging in its own way and offers some amazing views.
I could write a lot about it but I think that pictures do a much better job than I can of describing the scenes. After a long hike the students met at the Dead Sea. Those who were there for their first time were truly amazed by the beautiful sights.

On Friday the staff took the students to the “Carmel Market” for a workshop called “How Not to be Fraier.” A lot of sellers in Israel will try to cheat tourists by giving them a “special price” which is always considerably higher than usual. In order to teach the students to avoid this the counsellors went with them and gave them a list of little things to buy with 30 NIS for each apartment. Each apartment needed to buy everything on the list using as little money as possible and whoever came back with the most change in the allotted time won.

In the evening we went to the International Synagogue of Tel Aviv for Kabalat Shabbat and dinner with the local Rabbi. During dinner the Rabbi asked the students to introduce themselves with an interesting fact about themselves. After we finished eating the Rabbi started to sing. The staff and a couple of students joined him and a few moments later the whole group was singing their heart out, cheering and dancing in circles! The Rabbi said that it is the most energetic group he has ever seen from Aardvark – and he’s met a bunch of them.
I wish I could send you pictures of them dancing at the synagogue.

On Saturday, after a potluck lunch and a great tour in Neve Tzedek with our tour guide Steve, the group split into workshops around the neighbourhood – Yoga, Improv, and Juggling.
After the workshops the madrichim did Havdalah with the students. They stood in a circle with Josh Carr leading the prayers and we all sang and prayed together.

I hope you enjoyed reading some of the stories about your children – I’m sure they have a lot to share with you. I’m also aware that some students may not be too communicative so please feel free to use my email as stimulus for questions.

Attached is next week’s schedule. Each week I will be sending you the schedule for the following week together with a summary of the previous week.

I’ve also attached a PDF document of the presentation we showed the students of the Basic stuff they need to know about their new neighbourhood.

I hope that you also had a great week
Shavua Tov,

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael