Aardvark - My Year Immersed in Israeli Society

Hello everyone!

My name is Jordan and I am from San Francisco, California. For 10 months I was a student on Aardvark Tel Aviv (September 2018 – June 2019), where I fell in love with Israel, interned at an amazing start-up company, and created a network of lifelong friends. Sitting here now I can truly say that my experience on Aardvark has made me the person I am today. When first planning out my gap year I knew that I wanted to live in Israel, learn Hebrew, and travel. Aardvark gave me the outlet to accomplish all this, and more. Although I could go on forever about all the reasons I love Aardvark there are three main aspects that summarize my experience.

1. Creating friendships and connections Going into Aardvark, I had no idea that would walk away with some of my best friends. Over the course of the program I had countless opportunities to create connections with people from across the world - not just the students on Aardvark but also at my internship, with local Israelis, and with my Madrichim (group leaders). I know these friendships will only continue to grow in the future!

2. Exploring my Jewish Identity and connection to Israel Living in Israel for a semester opened my eyes to a new side of my Jewish identity. I was able to fully immerse in the Israeli culture for Jewish holidays, buy groceries at the shuk (market) in Hebrew, and say Shabbat Shalom to a taxi driver on a Friday night. The tiyulim (trips) that Aardvark took us on around the country, along with the unique programs they led, helped me explore Israel from every angle and develop my passion for Israeli politics. Knowing that everyone around me shared my religion and culture made me feel at home in country that is miles away.

3. Gaining lifelong skills and independence For many of the students, Aardvark was the first time we had lived independently. Although at first it was a challenge, with the guidance of our Madrichim, we learned to be successful. Some of the most important skills I gained were time management, how to live with others, and the value of honest communication. I know the things I learned will help me in my college career and beyond.

Looking back on my journey I wish I could do it all over again! Aardvark was one of the best experiences of my life and I am forever grateful of everything it gave me and will continue to give me in the future.