Location
  • Israel
    • Tel-Aviv
    • Jerusalem
Length
26 - 52 weeks

Program Details

Timeframe
Academic Year Fall Spring
Housing
Apartment
Primary Language
English
Age Min.
17
Age Max
21

Pricing

Price Details
The price of Aardvark Israel includes program tuition, housing, medical insurance, fees for all academic courses, staff, field trips, seminars, local transportation, and more. The only things not included and flights to and from Israel and food in Israel.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities SIM cards Wifi
Apr 27, 2020
May 09, 2024
4 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Aardvark Israel is a program which combines volunteering/interning and learning while living in apartments in Israel (right in the heart of Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem) and experiencing Israeli society from many different perspectives. Aardvark Israel is also fully accredited by the American Jewish University, participants can earn up to 30 college credits, whilst also volunteering, interning, touring and deepening their connection to Israel and exploring their Jewish identity. We also offer international trips and special interest add-ons such as Marva (Army); Magen David Adom, Entrepreneurship, and Selah (Jewish learning). Aardvark provides our students with a balanced structure enabling them to build their resume, have meaningful experiences and enough free time to make their own plans to enjoy Israel.

Program Reviews

4.35 Rating
based on 52 reviews
  • 5 rating 73.08%
  • 4 rating 9.62%
  • 3 rating 1.92%
  • 2 rating 9.62%
  • 1 rating 5.77%
  • Housing 4.2
  • Support 4.1
  • Fun 4.5
  • Value 4.4
  • Safety 4.4
Showing 1 - 8 of 52 reviews
Default avatar
Mary
2/5
No, I don't recommend this program

Look Elsewhere

Aardvark has been a disappointment. This year of course has been very difficult, but the basic things have not been addresses. The apartment was a mess- filthy dirty, holes in the walls, broken appliances, broken air conditioning etc. The internship was also exactly what I feared - just free labor even when my daughter tried very hard and professionally to speak with them, they were missed meeting, unmet texts etc. They seem to offer a lot of support but mostly the answer is no. When we had an emergency - stolen phone, cancelled flight etc. no one helped. Even when the parents reached out, the answer was always no.
Left early just was no reason to stay anymore.

What was your funniest moment?
Tel Aviv is a cool city, eating, shopping at the Shulk and going clubbing, beach time great too. But do not need to be with Aardvark to enjoy those things.
Pros
  • Beach
  • Food
  • Adventure
Cons
  • Apartment
  • Internship
  • Safety
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Maya
3/5
No, I don't recommend this program

Not sure I would recommend

My daughter was disappointed when she didn’t manage to find an internship in the first five weeks of the program. I did most of the work of finding her options (including her final position) myself. I know there were others with similar issues on this trip. Maybe if you are joining Magen David or one of the existing options of Aardvark it would have been different.

Regarding the sleeping arrangements - there are 4-5 buildings in one area and a single building in Rothschild area. While it’s a lovely area- if your child ends up there they will have a more limited experience in terms of connecting with other students. My daughter was in a building with 11 girls while the rest of the program was a 10-15 minute walk away which hindered her ability to spend time with them regularly.
Overall this program feels like camp for children from outside of Israel, which may suit some but not al.

43 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Gabi
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Gap Year Experience!!

This program is absolutely fantastic for people who want a year of fun, personal growth, development and especially independence. I did the fall semester in Jerusalem and it was fantastic! I have learnt so much about living on my own and with roommates and it's a once in a life time experience. If you have the opportunity to come on Aardvark, do it! I loved it so much I wish I could have stayed longer!

The location of the apartments is right in the centre of town making it easy and accessible to acquire essentials and also go out to have fun (e.g. food, shopping etc...). The two apartment buildings are seconds away from each other making it easy to visit your friends apartments.

I did two internships - Lady Morgana (Jewellery store) and Kli-Che (sun printing art studio) which were absolutely wonderful and I loved them so much that I've kept in touch and have gone back to visit many times after the program had finished. I really enjoyed the Tiyul Tuesdays where the whole community were together as we explored Israel. We travelled to many parts of Israel where we hiked and viewed important historical sights. We had an overnight trip in Kibbutz Keturah, a kibbutz located close to Eilat, and it was a fascinating experience where we learnt about kibbutz life and were able to immerse ourselves in Israeli culture!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and reach out to people! There are so many people from all over the world and it is a wonderful experience getting know others from different walks of life.
81 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Anonymous
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Best time of my life

I did Aardvark Spring/Summer 2021 in Tel Aviv. I was there from the start of April through the end of July (it was delayed a bit due to COVID). As I reflect on my time in Israel five months later, it still makes me emotional.
My time in Aardvark was truly the most impactful of my life. For the first half of the program, I lived on Allenby Street with all 70 other Aardvark kids in the same building. The location truly could not have been better and it was so fun with everyone sharing the building. The second half, we moved to Florentin, a slightly quieter area. My apartment was on the top floor and we had a large balcony (like the size of a basketball court) with a beautiful city view. My roomates and I would often have a huge group of friends come to the balcony for Shabbat dinners or to socialize before going out. I interned at a local NGO that was right next to the beach. I loved my coworkers and it felt impactful without being stressful. I felt super duper safe, I would often walk home alone at night and did not feel nervous at all (something I miss now being back in the US).
Here was my average schedule: wake up, take the bus to my internship, have lunch w my coworkers on the beach paviliaon, walk home a couple miles and find a cute spot to journal along the way, go for a run to Jaffa, go grocery shopping, cook dinner, meet up with my friends, go to a bar or club, go for a nighttime swim, then walk home along the beach. So so so fun.
The highlight, however, was the weekend adventures. My friends and I would plan mini-trips all over the country. Once we rented a cheap Airbnb and all squeezed in, other times we would stay at hostels. I met the coolest people and learned SO much. I learned new perspectives on everything Israel-related and became so much more independent. As a testament to this newfound independence, I finished my gap year by backpacking solo around Eastern Europe for 10 days.
My advice to everyone on Aardvark is to say yes to every opportunity and journal so you remember these incredible experiences a few years down the road. Not everything will be perfect, but if you roll with the punches, you will end up with some amazing memories. Some people might think that these types of programs try to "brainwash" you into being blindly zionist. However, I encourage you to seek out authentic experiences, and you too can understand and appreciate the complexities of the country. While I was nervous about anti-Israel sentiments occurring at my college, I actually found that I was extremely prepared to discuss the issue maturely with others, mostly due to my experiences in Israel. I plan to make Aliyah after college, something I never considered before Aardvark. Ultimately, I left Israel feeling more confident about who I am and where I am going than ever before in my life.

89 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Sarah
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Best year ever!

Aardvark was the perfect program for me - the right amount of freedom as well as support. I met so many incredible people from around the world and subsequently learnt about different countries and ways of living. I expanded my mindset, stepped out of my comfort zone and gained so much independence - all my goals for my gap year. My internship/volunteering was definitely the highlight of my year (hagal sheli) and I’m still in contact with the people I met and worked with on a weekly basis. All in all, I can’t wait to head back to israel, reunite with all of the beautiful people I met and attempt to relive the best year of my life…

79 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Ashleigh
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Crazy good

The people both staff and students were super friendly, welcoming and easy to talk to. We went on great trips around israel and the adaptivity of the program meant I was able to tailor my experience to get the most out of it. The staff adapted really well to COVID restrictions and pursued to ensure we had a program.
We travelled through a lot of israel and learnt about the history of the beautiful country. The ulpan was great too and we were able to speak the language.
Highly recommend the program

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Try everything
Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone
81 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Danielle
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Israel Gap Year Program

Aardvark is a gap year program for those who want a year of INDEPENDENCE, growth, and life experience while having a semblance of a support system for help when necessary. Do not go on Aardvark expecting the program to coddle you to overcome every little challenge of living on your own. Aardvark provides housing in excellent locations, varying internships, and immerses you within a community of other aardvark students. In jerusalem, the apartments where just a 10 minute walk from the shuk and about 30 minutes from the Kotel. Tel Aviv apartments are in the heart of Florentine, surrounded by fun bars and amazing restaurants, not to mention a 10 minute walk from the beach and other fun spots in telaviv. Living in these apartments gives students a taste of living on their own after college. The apartments housed between 3-5 people and in living there, students had to learn to grocery shop, cook, clean up after themselves, and be a good roomate- all necessary and fundamental skills to know when living on your own. There are so many hidden benefits to taking a gap year and aardvark provides just enough independence to allow students to grow while also providing a community to make the transition into a new country easy. Many complained “i might as well have gone to israel alone and found my own internship and apartment” which is such bs because it is extremely scary moving to a new country alone with no community or friends! Living in an aardvark building with all other aardvark students made it extremely easy to make AMAZING and lifelong friendships who become a new family. Aardvark didnt organize many ice breakers or get to know you activities so it was really on the students to make plans and forge friendships, which also is initially a challenge after having friends essentially handed to you throughout high school. The counselors also live in the buildings and play more of a cool older sibling role than an actual authoritarian role. I must say Aardvark does an EXCELLENT job of hiring the coolest, friendliest, and most down to earth counselors who genuinely want to help and also be your best friend. You can reach out to them whenever necessary but they wont solve your problems for you- remember your an adult on a gap year! The madrichim will give students tools to figure out their own problems unless it is an emergency, but they are not someone to unload every little problem on. Lets be honest, the average person who can afford to go on these programs is likely very privileged and used to having someone take care of everything on their behalf, and so a gap year is the perfect time to learn independence. The internships where very hit or miss depending on how determined the students where to find a good internship and actually GO to their internship. Heres a secret, Aardvark is ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT. As a prospective journalism major at the university of maryland, i was very adamant on getting an internship in the journalism field that was in person and would provide hands on experience. I was lucky enough to cop an internship at i24NEWS, where i gained extremely valuable exposure to the field. I helped edit and produce news packages and even had some of my packages air on TV! Working in a newsroom environment and learning about the field through conversations with the journalists gave me incredible insight on what it would be like to pursue this career path. This was an incredible way to network within the field and i know i am always welcome back at i24NEWS if i ever find myself back in israel. I now have some experience under my belt before college and an incredible internship on my resume.
On the topic of Aardvarks actual programming, let me just say there wasn’t much. There are once a week trips planned by the program that where usually disorganized and honestly super boring. We didnt go on the classic birthright trips, they took us on ~different~ trips to help immerse us into israeli society- but most of these trips where very draining and seemed like a general waste or time. Many students skipped the tiyols because of the reputation tiyol Tuesday had built as being lame. It is important to note i went on aardvark during the peak of covid and a lot of their usual programming was canceled or restructured to fit the countries regulations. But i had heard from previous years rhat tiyol tuesdays where generally disorganized. The best trips i went on where spontaneous underplanned weekend getaways with my friends- but just a warning YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY out of your own pocket for these trips. Beware of the hidden extra 10k cost of aardvark from monthly spending on groceries, going out, eating, trips etc. Aardvark is a very expensive program in and of itself and for the future they should really consider including food stipens as part of the current cost as many would agree there is a severe discrepancy between what the program provides and the programs price. Besides that concern, overall i had the most amazing time on aardvark and i truly believe i grew as a person this past year because of the program i decided to take. If you are debating between year course and aardvark- go on aardvark. From what i can understand year course was more involved in their students lives- still not a lot but more so than aardvark- and it can hinder gap year growth- for starters the program purchased the students groceries on their behalf. But to each his own and their is a program out there for everyone.
I am grateful that i can reflect and realize i have come a long way from who i was pre gap year and am glad i was able to be a hot mess for a year before entering college. Aardvark is the BEST israel gap year and i would 10/10 recomend to anyone!!!

85 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
lauren
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Program!!

i met so many great people, had great internships, traveled all over, and made the best memories that i will remember forever! i am so grateful for the independence i gained on this program and i recommend people who don’t need very much structure to go on aardvark versus other programs. aardvark helps participants gain experience both in the workforce through internships and allows students to receive college credits while taking classes. i went into college after with 22 credits and I am considered a second semester freshman!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
take advantage of every opportunity aardvark offers!
83 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Yes most kids do party but it’s also really not a big deal to stay in. There’s a solid group of kids that won’t go out and there’s no pressure or anything.