I've been planning on going back to Israel for a while now, but I didn't know when, for how long, or what I wanted to do there. I knew, however, that if I didn't go back to live in Israel for a while I would always regret it. I absolutely loved studying abroad in Tel Aviv and I have been itching to feel again what I felt when I was there. I want to immerse myself more in Israeli culture and learn what it is really like to be an Israeli. Studying abroad was amazing, but it was a very unique experience, just as college life in America is very unique and different then life outside of college.
One of the words that always comes to mind when I think of how I felt when I was in Israel is 'alive'. Everyday I felt like I was being challenged and learning more about myself, my religion, and what was important to me. I was so excited to learn, explore, and question. I was doing that a lot, questioning. I didn't like everything I saw, heard, or figured out, but all of it left me wanting more. I experienced a feeling of being 'at home'; of belonging to a group of people larger than myself, that I had never felt before going to Israel.
A lot of thinking, weighing of pros and cons, thinking some more, and thinking some more, led me to make the decision to make Aliyah (move to Israel). I finished my application for Aliyah in September and I recently had a meeting with a Shaliach from the Jewish Agency to go over paperwork and apply for official acceptance for Aliyah. I had been planning on moving at the beginning of next year but I received greater benefits if I moved before the end of 2010. There are two flights leaving from NY on December 28th and it looks as though I will be on one of them! I received a phone call yesterday saying that I am accepted for Aliyah but I cannot offically book a seat on the flight until I have my Visa, which takes a few weeks.
So December 28th, that is almost one month away...YIKES! Accepting the benefits means that I agree to stay for 3 years (or I have to pay it all back). What will I do in these three years? Good question.
Ideally: I am moving, initially, to an absorbtion center in Jerusalem where I will live and study Hebrew for 5 months, 5 days a week, 5 hours a day. Like the 5-5-5 deal from dominoes, except the food there isn't as good. After this I plan to volunteer in the army for a year if they will take me (I am over the age where it is required for women to enlist, but I want to volunteer anyway). The two biggest bennefits from the army are that it will help me to be more a part of Israeli society and my Hebrew will be improve exponentially. After I complete my army service (summer/fall of 2012) I want to study for my master's, most probably in communication disorders/speech pathology.
Hopefully I answered some questions but please feel free to ask me anything else you may be wondering. One of my residents at work asked me if I will have electricity and electrical appliances, so I mean it when I say ask me anything.
And of course I'll be posting again as it gets closer or if there are any updates...this is just the beginning