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Well I officially have less than one month until I return home to New York-- I can't believe study abroad is almost over! I'm going to miss Tel Aviv and Israel so much and cannot explain how incredible this experience was. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

However, before I leave I have a ton of final papers and projects to do (about 7) which is becoming difficult to complete because the weather has been absolutely amazing (aka lots of beach days)! I'm really going to have to buckle down and get all of them done before I leave.

Although I love Israel, I'm also really excited to be going home! My mom was able to visit me this week but I haven't seen my dad since I left so I'm mostly excited to see him. Also, I miss Long Island food! Bacon egg & cheese sandwiches, great Italian food, etc-- Israeli food is great but it just doesn't compare.

What I will miss about Israel is something I cannot put into words-- the people, the food, the beach, my friends, everything! I feel so at home in Israel and will definitely be back several times in my life. If you have the chance to study abroad, and you're particularly interested in the Middle East, I highly recommend studying in Israel. Even if you can't study abroad here, please try to come visit this beautiful country and understand its people, culture, politics, and history because it is really worthwhile!

This is my final goodbye! Shalom!

    There is a common stereotype that all abroad programs and courses are a complete joke— I’m here to dispel that misconception! Depending on the program, your courses could be the easiest you’ll ever take, or potentially even harder than a GW course. I would say that the courses at my school fall somewhere in between. I definitely thought that they would be easier than they actually are. In fact, the courses that seemed the easiest (humanities) turned out to be the most difficult and required extra preparation.
       Not only are the classes more difficult than I assumed, but they are graded very differently than GW courses. At GW, we have portions of our grade that goes towards homework, midterm, final, and attendance. In most of my classes, our final itself is 50-70% of our grade, 15-40% midterm, and 10-15% is attendance. In other words, you have significantly fewer assignments, however you also have only two opportunities to do well in the class which, in my opinion, is a worse than the former.
       Lastly, and most importantly, our finals are for the most part all written take-home papers. This sounds ideal however all of the classes have these papers due within the same week which will be very stressful. To best prepare for these tests or papers, you must be cognizant of their deadlines and start working on them as soon as you’re given a prompt.
       Midterms are over for me and I’m finally on Passover break! I’ll be spending my travels in Europe and will have many more stories for my blog very soon! Ciao for now!

Shalom everyone! I'm back with another blog entry, however the topic is a lot more serious. Last night was the first night that I truly felt unsafe abroad.

Israel is a very modern country that contains some of the world's most advanced technological systems in the world--particularly in the defense sector. Because of this, Israel seems like a very Westernized country, and most of the time it feels like I am in Europe. However, last night reminded me that is not the case.

Last night, Thursday, March 14, I was eating dinner with my friends at a market similar to that of Union Market in D.C. We heard a loud crash but did not think anything of it because there was a lot of construction going on around the area. However, immediately after, we heard the red alert sirens all across Tel Aviv. The red alert sirens warn Israelis to get to the nearest bunker/safe space because of rockets and missiles being fired into Israel. The security guards at the market immediately ushered us into the market for safety precautions. Thankfully, no one was harmed by these rockets shot from Gaza because they were immediately shot down by the Israeli army.

This experience made me realize exactly where I was in the world. It is very rare for there to be rockets fired towards Tel Aviv, so it put many things into perspective:

1. I am extremely grateful to be alive, healthy, and safe.

2. Download a local news app to get notified of important day-to-day activities going on in your host country.

3. If you are in a similar situation, wait until it dissipates and you have all of the facts before calling any loved ones. Calling your parents on the phone while you are in a panicked state will do more harm than good.

4. Always travel with at least 1 friend in case you ever feel like you are in danger.

5. Keep all important phone numbers for your host country/school in one, organized place! You should NOT wait to do this after something dangerous happens (ex. over 75 students in 20 minutes joined the TAU Emergency WhatsApp group AFTER the rocket incident).

Like I said earlier, I am so grateful to be alive and safe, and I am so thankful to be in a country that prioritizes safety and security over everything! This experience did not make me afraid of this country, in fact, it made me more appreciative of it! I'll talk to you all next time! Shabbat shalom!

Shalom again! I’m back with some more updates! It is now the middle of February and we just finished our ulpan for the semester!! Ulpan was such an incredible experience because I went from knowing no Hebrew to being conversationally fluent in Hebrew. Now that our ulpan is over, we have a 10-day break! Many students are headed to Europe and I am too! I will be traveling within Spain and visiting some of my other friends that are abroad. Once we get back from our break, we will finally start classes which is really exciting. 

Now that I have been in Tel Aviv for 5 weeks, here are my top 5 favorite things to do in the city:

  1. The beach: As I mentioned in my last blog, the “winter”
     in TLV has been exceptionally warm! Many days after ulpan we would hop onto the bus and go straight to the beach. There’s nothing better than friends, sun, and good food!
  2. HaCarmel Market: also known as a “shuk”, these open air flea markets are where many Israelis will buy their groceries. It is by far my favorite one— mostly because they have the best Venezuelan arepas in the world! The food that you find in this shuk is unmatched. 
  3. Nightlife: The nightlife in TLV is incredible! TLV is such a young, diverse city and you can meet different people from all walks of life just on Dizengoff Street. 
  4. #FoodieLife: I am a HUGE foodie! I love to eat, cook, look, and talk about food! Many people would think that there’s only Israeli-style food here (falafel, shwarma, hummus) but they would be wrong. TLV has such a diverse cuisine scene with Japanese, Chinese, Iranian, Middle Eastern, Turkish, Mexican, etc. In fact, outside of Tokyo, TLV has the most Japanese restaurants.
  5. Shabbat: My friends and I love to cook a nice Shabbat dinner every other Friday night. We will buy fresh challah and other fruits/veggies from the shuk, hang out, watch a movie and relax like you’re supposed to do on Shabbat!

I hope you all get to experience all of these things in Israel as well! So long for now!

Shalom! My first few weeks in Israel have been so incredible and I couldn’t wait to share! I landed in Tel Aviv two weeks ago with so many emotions running through me. I was excited to be in one of my favorite cities, anxious about making friends, and naturally slightly concerned about safety. However all of my fears have been settled over the past few weeks. Tel Aviv is such an incredible city with a lively nightlife scene, picturesque beaches, and security measures like I’ve never seen. I am also fortunate to have the greatest roommates. We spend almost every weekend on the beach, eating hummus, and doing ulpan (intensive Hebrew) homework! Although life has been mostly carefree, I have stumbled upon some challenges in these past few weeks. The first challenge is the schedule of our ulpan. Our intensive Hebrew class is 8:30am-1pm from Sunday-Thursday with a test every week for four weeks. The teachers are incredibly talented and I am shocked at how great my Hebrew has gotten since I’ve been here. However, the schedule is very demanding and the amount of material can be overwhelming at times. The second challenge has been budgeting for city life. As we all know, DC is one of the most expensive cities and I assumed that TLV, like some other major Middle Eastern cities, would be relatively inexpensive and affordable. In reality, Tel Aviv is definitely comparable to Washington DC in terms of living expenses, which is something I wish I budgeted more for. Lastly, one of the biggest differences between Israel and America is Shabbat. Shabbat is observed from Friday afternoon-Saturday afternoon. Because of Tel Aviv’s secular society, some stores and restaurants are still open, however most of the city does shut down which makes travel and social gatherings very difficult. Despite the smaller challenges I have faced, I am looking forward to traveling within Israel and to other countries, starting regular classes, and continuing my education on Israel and all it has to offer. Lehitra’ot!