24 days seems like it is going to last a lifetime. Not in Israel. Not on my trip. Despite the fact that I savored every moment and took none of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences for granted, it still flew by at neck-breaking speed. As hard as it is, I will try to capture even a small ounce of my experience in this essay.
Arriving in Tel Aviv, I had absolutely no expectations. Everyone just kept saying that it was going to change my life, but not how or why. We spent the first night getting acquainted with each other and our homeland in Tel Aviv before we were quickly swept away to the paradise known as the Negev Desert. We stayed at Kibbutz Yahel and experienced our first Shabbat in Israel. After conquering a few moderate hikes to get to our first campsite, we took on the hike to Mount Solomon. For 4 hours, we struggled to overcome fears, exhaustion and mental blocks, in order to reach our final destination. As clichÃ© as it sounds, our 23-person group became a family that day. Every single person reached the top of that mountain, a peak that challenged all others to try and rise above it. From there, we could look to our right and see Egypt, or look to our left and see Jordan and the Red Sea. That view is something I will never forget; you can’t gaze upon something that spectacular and not reflect on your life, ambitions, strengths, weaknesses, fortune and motivations. Although I experienced some amazing things in the rest of my journey through the country of Israel, nothing came close to standing on the top of that mountain, knowing that was where I was meant to be at that exact moment. I had no real concept of how tiny Israel actually is until I realized that we had traveled up, down and around it…a few times. I immersed myself into multiple bodies of water; I floated in the Dead Sea, snorkeled in the Red Sea, got stung by jellyfish at tow different coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, rafted in the Jordan River, and drank non-salty water from the Sea of Galilee. We cried together at the Kotel, or the Western Wall. We went three times, each with a different combination of overwhelming emotion. We endured museums and tours, educating us of the land we were walking on. Even though we were past exhaustion some days, we all knew that it was ten thousand times better to be there listening to ‘monotone Larry’ than anywhere else. The food was amazing, and never in short supply. I eat hummus on a weekly basis now. There are a thousand more things I could tell you about the adventures, emotions, laughter, and memories I had in Israel, but it would not do the experience justice. Those were the best 24 days of my life and I would not change anything about them. I plan to attend a university in Israel and even though it will still be the real world and not just a vacation, I know that Israel is my home.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.