Since the first time I had been to Israel two years ago on Birthright, I have wanted to come back. Now that I have lived here for a few months, that feeling has only grown stronger. I know that when I get home I will be happy to see my family and friends, but nothing can compare to this experience I have had and the opportunities I have been offered during my time here.
The experience as a whole has been wonderful, but it’s primarily the city of Ashdod and everything it encompasses that has stood out to me the most. Our apartment is a three minute walk from the beach, a five minute walk to the grocery store, and just a five minute bus ride from the shook and the malls.
It’s not as much the actual city of Ashdod, though, that has been incredible, it is the experiences I have had here. I teach at a small elementary school in a lower end neighborhood, with only one class for each grade. Every day that I go to school the kids run up to me and are always so excited to learn. Besides volunteering, Ashdod has many attractions and events to enjoy. Between enjoying the beach during the day and going out at night, there is always something to do.
Outside of the everyday life in Ashdod, we have many opportunities to travel around the country. Once a month Israel-Way Oranim takes us on a trip to new destination in Israel, and every other weekend we have free to ourselves. Between the group trips and my own, I have already been to Tel Aviv, Yaffo, Jerusalem, Haifa, Acre, Caesarea, Ramla, Eilat, the Golan Heights, the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Masada, and hiking in the Negev Desert. The way our scheduled trips and our free time is planned, I have had so many chances to explore the country and really make the most of my time here.
Living and working in Ashdod has been a wonderful experience and has made me feel like I belong. Getting to know the people of Ashdod so well, along with traveling around the country, has reinforced my love for Israel. I would choose my program again in a heartbeat. This opportunity does not come along every day, and I would not trade it for anything.