Living in Jerusalem was incredible. After growing up in Los Angeles, I felt like I had moved directly into a history book. In comparison, Los Angeles and the United States seemed like such young regions!! One class I took consisted solely of only field trips! Every week we went somewhere incredible and learned new facts about history and culture. I loved it. Another class I took was called the Legacy of Eastern-European Judaism. At the end of the semester, we went on a two-week “field trip” to Poland. In hindsight, I would have chosen to visit Poland first, and then Israel, because much of the trip was about communities that no longer existed. Witnessing Israel afterwards as a blooming, growing place would have made for a more inspiring ending. Still, the journey was incredible!
I loved meeting so many students from different universities. I made great friends. The best thing was that I had an Israeli roommate. I knew my Hebrew had gotten pretty decent when I was able to fight with my roommate in her own language!
I was also able to connect with family. My aunt is Israeli and her sisters really took care of me while I lived in Israel. It was an incredible feeling to be so far from home and still have someone local to visit for Shabbat and holidays.
Studying abroad opened my mind to so many different cultural viewpoints! I think that being willing to leave the University of Pennsylvania for a semester to live in Israel was crucial to many later of my life decisions: to leave graduate school, to travel 100% and work on a cruise ship, to know that there were many paths to personal evolution. Now that I have traveled so much, I have seen so many different lifestyles. When my boyfriend asked me to quit my job and spend a full year in South East Asia, I thought first of my semester abroad. I remembered spending Spring Break in Italy and traveling to Spain for a week and I thought that was great!
I remember before I left for Israel I was so nervous. I told my dad, “I wont know anyone. I won’t have anyone to talk to.” I felt so scared. He said, “You are right. Probably no one will talk to you!.” I thought, that does not feel very supportive. Then he continued, “But after ten minutes, you will have two new best friends and meet everyone in the dorm and have a fantastic semester.” Having the courage to take the leap and spend the semester in another country on another continent really changed my entire life's perspective.
Read more about Lisa and her husband George's travel adventures on their blog: We Said Go Travel.