My trip to Israel - My Family Travels

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!

          What I didn’t think about was how Aviv would later become one of my best friends to date, or how when I left the country, I would cry because it was not likely that I would see her again. I didn’t think about the fact that when she turned 18, she would have to go into the army and that each day I would worry about her for the years to come.
 
In my 2 week trip to Israel, I learned more about myself then I had in the 16 years of my life. I was able to see a completely different world then the one I live in, and see first hand how someone my age, 6,000 miles away lives. I never thought that someone so far away could be so similar to me. I made one of the best friends I will ever have there, and truly hope that one day in the future I will return to the country I had heard about my entire life. My memories of Israel will remain in my mind and in my heart for the rest of my life. It made me broaden my view of the world, and vouch to visit as many places as I could throughout my life. Who knows, maybe the next stop will be Kansas with Toto, the tin man, the lion and the scarecrow.

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