I was amazed at the high level of planning and accommodations Aardvark gave to me and my fellow participants. The entire program was outstanding and gave the best Israel experience ever! Aardvark beats Year Course and all the other Gap Years in all regards of the experience: the location (the heart of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), accommodation, events, madrichim, counseling, freedom, field trips, support, friendliness of staff, welcoming you to a new home, and options for european travel.
I especially took advantage of the International Trips. This is because the staff, mostly Liron Milbar the marketing coordinating and prospective participant go-getter, plans the trips for you and for a fairly economical price. I went to Oslo and Bergen, Norway, Barcelona and Girona, Spain, Dublin and Belfast, Ireland, Beijing, China, Berlin and Oranienberg (where the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Nazi Headquarters were located), Germany, Florence, Sienna, and Rome, Italy, Prague and Kutna Hora, Czech Republic, and Amesterdam and the Hague, The Netherlands. The planning consisted of many events in these cities over the course of 4-5 days. The plans included museums, historical tours, jewish culture in Europe, and most importantly and trip to the Israeli Embassy to meet the Ambassadors to Israel in Europe.
However, the experience in Israel is far more outstanding! The volunteer work is motivational. The tiyulim are indescribable to the extent that it is just fun and great to see the Golan heights, Tsfat, City of David, Temple Mount, Sde Boker, Sderot, and so much more. Plus, you have the freedom to have fun when the night begins or go to the beautiful Tel Aviv beach or western wall. All in all, you can experience the best of Israel through the Aardvark program.
I also urge any college students to take the courses offered as a part of Aardvark seriously and find out ahead of time about the transferability. It goes through American Jewish University an accredited university that transfers to most Cal States and most UC schools, so if you are going to a UC or Cal State make sure you look into the requirements for transferability! I found out the hard way.
The Israel experience is real when you do Aardvark. The freedom of self expression coincided with true friendships is something that you will experience in Aardvark, but nowhere else. I can say I met life long friends throughout my Aardvark experience and learned about myself more than ever! The bonds you will make and interpersonal relationships are there, you just need to courageously sign up! Do it for you and do it for your Jewish identity and personal growth.