Well, that was a lot harder than I anticipated. And by that, I mean my initial transition to living in Israel.
To be completely honest, I underestimated the impact cultural differences and the language barrier would have on me. When I visited Israel in May with Xavier University, our tour provided us a highly structured environment. I was surrounded by Americans, my friends and colleagues. We spoke English, and our tour guide spoke English. Every detail of our journey was pre-planned. I didn’t have to think – I just woke up, did what I was told to do, and went where I was told to go. When I moved in October, I was on my own. Alone. With five huge pieces of luggage. My whole life was in my possession. I was the only one responsible for it. And by it, I mean my life (and all its various components – my work, my finances, my physical and emotional wellbeing, etc.).
I have absolutely no idea why I didn’t think about this before I moved! I assumed my move to Israel would go as smoothly as my previous travels to Israel. But I was mistaken. Nonetheless, despite my challenges (or precisely because of my challenges), I have some amazing (and funny) stories to tell about my trials and triumphs, about what it means to be humbled, about having to ask strangers for help, and about the universal power of friendship in the face of stress and frustration.
Importantly, members of the RIS staff and faculty have been (and continue to be) key resources for me during my transition. In fact, I would not have been able to navigate my first couple of months in Israel without their guidance. I’m pretty sure Amy Seroussi, the Graduate Admissions Coordinator at RIS, and I have become best friends as a result of this process. Always patient with me and willing to respond to my multi-part, novel-like emails, Amy is an unrelenting advocate and source of information (and encouragement) for me. Amy, if you’re reading this: thank you!
The first time I stepped onto campus, I immediately knew I was no longer alone. I saw the community, I felt the community, I was part of the community. Instantly, I became a member of a cohort of students from around the world who were embarking on similar adventures. Despite our differences in culture, language, religion, life experiences, etc., RIS, its administration, academic programs, and social opportunities serve as uniting forces for diverse groups of students.
In my next post, I will relay some of the entertaining stories from my first couple of months in Israel that I mentioned earlier in this post. So please be sure to keep reading the RIS Blog!