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.