What Next?!

Disclaimer: this will be long. Skip to the bottom if you are tired of reading everything I have to say. No hard feelings, promise.

I know I kind of just posted about how the second half of my program was about to start, but the funny thing about time is that it is always moving and two months after the half way mark leaves me with only three months left. And three months really doesn’t seem like a lot. As I find my brain settling into a rhythm of “this is almost over,” I just get more and more conflicted.

I do not regret coming and spending a year here in between high school and college. I have met countless of amazing people: from my gap group to my Israeli peers to my teachers and administration to the people I work with. I will be leaving this year knowing people from dozens of countries all with their own life stories and reasons for how our paths ended up crossing. I have learned from these people, especially the kids I volunteer with who come from Eritrea, Sudan, the Congo, Darfur, Ghana, and so many more places. Their smiles say so much and when they don’t smile, it says so much more. My classes have been so enjoyable (mostly when they were in English and I was actually able to understand what was happening…) and they are taught by equally interesting people – this list goes on and it will be impossible for me to name everything amazing.

Most of all, though, my friends have amazing. And I am scared. Because, for the most part, we are all going off in our separate directions. My Israeli friends are going to be serving in the army. They will take the leadership skills they gained here at Bina and be the future leaders of the Israeli Defense Forces; serving in positions all the way from combat units and pilots to Intelligence. Regardless of the seven hour time difference, we will be in different worlds as I begin tackling my own journey in university.

And my gap group is splitting as well. Well, except for you, Eve! (Eve and I will both be attending McGill University this September). But, most of my gap group is going to their own college – or staying in Israel and volunteering to be a lone soldier, serving in the IDF. I am worried that when I get home, after having been through such an intense, life-changing experience where I had no space to breathe because I live with fourteen people in a tiny apartment, life will just continue on like I never went away. Like I didn’t change. Because, just like time, life does that.

Our experiences don’t affect our neighbors and they are not written on our foreheads so that when we meet new people they will look at us and automatically see our message:

“Hey! Look at me! I just spent a year in Israel on an army preparation program and I am so different than I was ten months ago! Please treat me like I changed!”

Yeah…

I don’t think life works like that.

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So, it’s scary to think that even though fifty other people experienced all of this with me, there are way more than fifty people in the world. For those of you that knew me in high school, I had a tendency to obsess over trying to be in Israel and I am still not sure if that hindered me from experiencing things or if it just shaped my character. I don’t want to miss any of the rest of my life because I am getting over the (good) trauma of participating on Bina. If I learned anything these past seven months, it is that time goes fast and the good moments can be frequent or far and in between. We can’t know, so we need to learn to recognize them and not be caught up in something that already happened or else time will fly by and, before we know it, all the good times will have slipped by, too.

(Sorry, there’s a little bit more to go. If you’re still reading: Kol haKavod! But you can still choose to skip ahead…)

On the flip side, a part of me is ready to come home. My parents were just visiting, I believe twoish weeks ago, and as much as I absolutely adored showing them around my home here in Israel and truly feeling apart of the Shapira/Florentine, Tel Aviv community, part of me really missed being home. Or maybe not so much being home as not being in such an intensive program. And my family.

If anyone is interested in Bina and is reading this blog post, you need to be aware of what you are getting yourself into. The schedule is intense and not entirely flexible. Classes are mandatory and we wake up at six or seven and don’t come back to our apartments some nights until ten or even eleven. And then on top of all of that, for me personally, because I am learning Hebrew in Ulpan four days a week, I have a ton of Hebrew homework. So I come back around ten and then chill for a little bit only then to have to do my homework. At least I have a building full of native speakers to help me.

Anyways, it is exhausting. Not in the way high school is, just in the standards and expectations that we need to hold up. It is rewarding to no end, but you need to be prepared. Maybe it is the program I chose, maybe it is the people who run it, maybe it is my personality, maybe it is all of those combined. But this has been exhausting.

So I am excited for the end of the year to come. The air is starting to have that feeling of when things are winding down in classes and the weather is nice but then you need to work extra hard to study for finals. Things are busy here and I have so many projects that I want to attack with a vengeance. Even though I do have three months left and that is a lot of time, truly, I am stuck between wanting to clock out and wanting to never leave. I can’t decide if I should try to prepare myself mentally, now, for when I am back home or if I should not think about it because I am so scared of not being with the friends I made this year.

(Congratulations! You made it all the way through!)

(Skip to here. I can’t believe you didn’t read everything … )

In a nutshell: I want to go to college and I want to be with my family and see my friends and a small part of me wants to be out of Bina as well. Not be in a culture I need to figure out all the time. But I also am scared of how the transition back to life in America will be. Now Bina is starting to not feel like reality and eventually dreams need to end. I am scared of loosing touch with everyone I have grown close to and after June comes and I go back home, I really am not sure when I will be able to come here next.

This year has been an experience of a life time. An adventure, as my father likes to always remind me when I complain about things. And he is right. I hope I can tell you all sometime about all of my adventures. From almost getting hypothermia while sleeping outside in the rain to almost missing my plane back home and begging a taxi driver at 3 AM to take me to the airport for half the price because I didn’t have enough cash. I have learned so much and, for the moment, thank god I still have three more months left.

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