As I stepped off the plane, I thought, Sari, I’ve got a feeling your not in New York anymore. Here, the air was cleaner, the sun was shining, and the heat was thoroughly overwhelming. For having never stepped foot outside of the United States before, this was quite a great first impression of another country. The mouth watering smell of falafel and shawarma filled the air, and you could hear that thick Hebrew dialect from a mile around. If you can’t tell, I was in Israel…
…Let’s rewind a bit, all the way back to the town of Ramapo months before. A tall 16 year old girl, with thick curly hair is currently jumping in circles and screaming at the top of her lungs in the vice principal’s office of SuffernHigh School. She has just found out that the essay she submitted to the Israel Twinning Committee’s essay contest (on why she would want to visit Israel) was one of six to be selected, and what’s the prize? None other then an all expense paid, two week trip to the country she’s wanted to visit her entire life. That girl, whose still screaming by the way, is me. All I could think about was the places I would go, and the people I would meet. I was excited to touch the sand at the beach in Eilat, see the Golan Heights, visit the Kotel in Old Jerusalem, haggle prices at the Arab quarter marketplace, and lastly, float in the Dead Sea.
Months later, as I took my first tour around Jerusalem, I couldn’t believe it. Everything was beautiful about this country; the ancient buildings, the friendly people, and most importantly, the delicious food. However great lunch was, what I was looking forward to the most was meeting Aviv, the host girl who was going to take me in for the next two weeks. Nerves filled my body and startling thoughts saturated my head. What if Aviv didn’t like me? Or better yet, what if she didn’t speak English?! I only knew a few sentences in Hebrew, and I couldn’t live for two weeks on, Pass the salt and where is the bathroom!
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.