Coming Home

By Nathalie Gleitman, IDC Herzliya Bachelors in Business Administration, Germany 

Why study in Israel? That’s the question people always ask me when I tell them that I moved to Tel Aviv a year ago to study business administration at the Masa Israel-accredited  Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. 
 Still, out of all the countries in the world, why did I choose Israel?
What is it about this small country that makes it such a special and fulfilling place to live? New York, London, Paris, Madrid, Singapore…
It’s like the world is filled with different doors offering all sorts of opportunities, but from all of these doors, I chose to enter the one that offered a home.
Before arriving in Israel, I spent two years completing high school in England, which is probably the complete opposite to Israel in culture and atmosphere.
Following Christmases, Easters, and constant rain, I needed a place that felt like home--somewhere I could be part of the majority , where  I could share this sense of belonging  with all those around me. 
I no longer wanted to be part of a “Jewish clique,” as was the case in Munich where I was born and lived until the age of sixteen.
Even though Jews are very integrated in the society, I was tired of making excuses every year in order to miss two days of school for Rosh Hashanah.
I no longer wanted to receive Christmas cards from neighbors who never seemed to understand that I did not celebrate Christmas.
After a period of intensive studying for my IB (international baccalaureate) in a strict, disciplined, Christian surrounding I was ready to get to Israel and start a new chapter of my life. But, things in Israel didn’t naturally fall into place, and even now that I’ve been here for a while, I still experience the unexpected each day.  
In Israel, I soon learned that trying to make plans more than an hour in advance is impossible in Israel.
The most important thing is the “right now.”  At the same time, I was amazed to find that I was never alone.
Even when getting coffee, I was sure to meet somebody nice and interesting. Everyone has a different story to tell and is genuinely interested in hearing yours.  
There’s never a dull moment in Israel and there is always a reason to get up in the morning and start the day with a positive attitude.
The country is constantly flourishing, moving and growing with such an energy that makes people want to be a part of it.  
True to the stereotype, Israelis have chutzpah but as long as you stay persistent, you will get what you need--even in the case of cable installation when it may take a month.   Also, the more Hebrew I learned, the closer I felt to people and the more comfortable I felt  to this new culture.   
Now I realize that making the decision to study in Israel was an emotional, rather than rational decision.  I was searching for amazing experiences and happiness.  My intuition convinced me that nothing else mattered. 
It turned out that I was right.  When I reflect back on the previous year, I can honestly say that I was happy then and that I still am, especially because I know that I have another two years—at least—to enjoy this country.  
No one knows what the future will bring, but with my new Israeli mentality, this does not bother me.  
I start each day with an open mind and live every day as though it were my last.  
I’ve placed my heart in Israel and I have not been disappointed.

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