Yes, I know….I’ve been terrible at keeping up with my writing here….
BUT I’M BACK.
To recap what’s been going on lately here’s a few updates on my daily life here in Tel Aviv:
- Still holding the marketing internship at the wonderful tech startup I’m working at
- I can count to ten in Hebrew
- My two friends and I took a weeklong trip to Spain (Barcelona & Madrid) and Amsterdam in the middle of November (yes, went on holiday while on holiday)
- So far in Israel I have traveled to:
- North– Golan Heights area (in a kibbutz of course), Tzfat, Haifa and a hiking trip near Qiryat Shemona
- Middle– Jerusalem (including East Jerusalem for a bit)
- South– Eilat, Sde Boker (at another kibbutz in the Negev Desert), hiked way down to the southern most tip of Israel and got to see the borders of Jordan and Egypt with Israel and Netiv HaAsara (right on the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip)
- Anything below 60 degrees is now considered FREEZING in my world. This is what living in the Middle East has turned me into: a peasant who can no longer handle the cold (a shame to my midwestern roots)
- Doing yoga and meditating on the beach in front of the sunset is the greatest thing on the planet
- Hummus is God’s gift to the universe
Yay! Now that we’re back in the blogging zone, I would like to talk about my recent trip to Jerusalem where I attended a leadership conference with Masa Israel Journey. Masa is the main organization that my program is through; I was in touch with the folks at Masa before applying to my program because they help match you to the best program that fit your needs and wants for your experience in Israel.
From November 26th-30th, about 150 other Masa participants and I gathered at the Yehuda Hotel in Jerusalem for a weeklong fun filled summit learning about leadership and what it means to be a leader in this society. Everyone who attended were also on other Masa programs, living throughout all of Israel (not just Tel Aviv) and representing 15+ countries. The summit in my opinion, was fun. I got to meet so many different Jews from all over the world, doing the same thing as me, as well as getting to know some of the folks on my program better. However, I didn’t really feel like I learned much about what it means to be a leader or at least, anything I didn’t already know. We were split into different groups, doing team building activities, having discussions, listening to speakers, etc.
While the summit itself could have some things to improve on (I can’t complain about the fact that the week in a hotel was FREE and we were fed at every meal everyday so I spent $0 all week), it did make me reflect on my reasoning for “why” did I come to Israel in the first place.
Since being here, I have been told by many people that I’m very “brave” for moving here. Brave how? I mean, I do agree that it is pretty ballsy to move to a foreign country where you don’t know the language (at all) just barely 3 months after graduating from university but why is it brave? Am I brave because it’s the Middle East or am I brave that I decided to take a less popular route of what people my age normally do after they graduate? Sure, I could’ve applied for jobs in Chicago for me to start over the summer so I can start saving up money to move out of my parent’s house but honestly, living in Israel has always been something I’ve always wanted to do. As cliché as it sounds, after I went on Birthright two years ago, I told myself that I can see myself living here one day. However, when I said that I partially was just kidding and the other part was maybe serious. Mostly just a dream out of reach. Just a little over two years later….here I am :).
Even though I did study abroad in Spain for 4.5 months and have the experience living on this half of the world and being away from home this long, it also wasn’t uncommon for college students to go to Europe for a semester to study. But packing up and moving to Israel post-grad, especially during this political climate and when antisemitism is still alive and real, is something that most people would not have done or seriously thought about doing. I’ve always been someone who “dares to be different” and this leap of faith is just another character trait that has been labeled as a “typical Nikki thing to do”.
Mom & Dad, I miss you and don’t worry I’ll be home sooner than you know it!