• 6 Lessons Learned When Spending Time Away From Home: ​Israel Edition - 08/07/2019

    by Julia Cordover, Onward Israel University of Florida, Summer 2019

    Let life take you on a (camel) ride and don’t let the humps stop you from   having an enjoyable experience.

    Hello & Shalom!   

    It was an opportunity for me to better myself. To genuinely learn about  the basic things of life we (students) don’t learn from a textbook. I booked  my flights and packed up a suitcase. The moment I parted from my  parents, I knew the steering wheel was mine. It was the beginning of  many firsts. The first time I would build my professional career. The first  time I would be 6,600 miles away from my family, my comfort zone, my  English language, and my car. It was the first time something fulfilling and  different was on its way as I immersed myself in a new country.    Mama, I made it! When I landed at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, I  had felt an emotional sensation strike through me. I would spend the next  80 days appreciating the diversity, love, and acceptance this special  country has to offer through traveling, working and eating!   

    1. DISCONNECT  Get off your phone!!! Let your eyes and mind take in the beauty of new  experiences. Give yourself some sort of limit on the amount of time you  spend on social media or texting because, chances are, rather than being  on your phone, you can have a face-to-face conversation with someone  who might largely impact your life.   

    2. ENGAGE  The streets are full of wisdom. Interact with strangers, listen to their  perspective on life, and ask questions. Curiosity is an essential part of  growing as an individual. With new insight, you will have a greater  appreciation for other peoples’ point of view. Remember to stay  open-minded and things may surprise you!   

    3. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE  Do something fun, do something different. Whether it is spending an hour  reading a book, cooking or hiking. Being away from home will give you  the opportunity to find a new hobby or interest that can make you happy:)   

    4. WAKE UP EARLY  Are you sleeping in until noon? Set an alarm, grab some coffee, and go  off to explore! If you don’t have an itinerary for that day, walk around  and see what comes your way. You will never know what is waiting for  you if you don’t try. Plus, before you know it, the sun will have set on your  entire trip, and you will regret the time you spent sleeping rather than  exploring.    

    5. MAKE A SUMMER BUCKET LIST  Are you ready to jump off an airplane? Or see extraordinary fish while  scuba diving? Make a list of a few realistic or far-fetched goals. No  worries if you don’t accomplish them this trip because now you have  things to look forward to the next!    

    6. REFLECT  Collect moments, not things!!! Cut out a few minutes each day to reflect  on what you did. Are you happy with what today brought you? Can you do  something differently tomorrow? Set personal goals in order to live your  best life.  

    The entire summer I had a smile on my face.

    I smile for the knowledge Birthright taught me in just a short 10 days. I  learned that my “Jewishness” is not defined by how much I pray or go to  temple. I learned that Israel is full of diversity. 

    I smile for the lessons I learned on by Onward Israel program interning at GK. Having no prior  experience in the workforce, I was warmly embraced by an office full of  rockstars. I was relieved to learn everyone in my office spoke English. The  first week or two, I was listening as my co-workers threw around concepts,  words, and lesson plans I have never heard before. I quickly caught on to  the office vibes. My internship taught me the beauty of women  empowerment. Working at a public relations firm surrounded by mostly women created a workspace full of women supporting one another. These  women embody the the magic of networking, the importance of receiving  constructive criticism, the perks of taking time to be independent, and the  rewards of communicating professionally with clients. For me, interning at  GK was a rewarding experience that gave me a taste of the Israeli  culture which added so much to my time in Israel. 

    Although the sun has set on my Israel experience, I learned something very  quick: my love for Israel is overwhelming. From the minute I arrived, I was  immediately welcomed by all the natives. Truly everyone I have met on  this life journey will leave an impact in my heart. Being able to live and  immerse myself in a new country has been a postive, optimistic  experience I wish more students had the chance to experience. I can  confidently say the best experiences of Israel must be free… or purchasing  falafel and hummus, of course! With the lessons I learned, I am a better  person than I was yesterday.