By Allie Bernstein, Career Israel Intern

This is Part 2 of a three-part blog series. To read Part 1, click here

Did you know that you – yes, you! – can actually make your dream of spending months in Israel a reality?

How, you may ask? Well, you’ve come to the right series of blog posts. In today’s post, I’ll help you convince that doubtful voice in your head that you can in fact do this.

How To Convince Yourself – you may hear yourself saying…

  • “I’m not brave enough.” Of course you are! Yes, being on your own in a foreign country is a totally bizarre experience, and is not for everyone. But here’s the thing: you’re not alone. You didn’t apply for a random internship or find a volunteer position in Israel on your own, did you? No, you’re going through one of Masa Israel’s many programs that are built specifically to help people like you succeed. No matter what you need, your program’s staff is there for you. Having this kind of support system makes the transition so much easier than you’d think.
  • “I don’t speak Hebrew.” Guess what? Neither do most of the people who apply. My program simply requires fluent English, and almost half of the participants came in not knowing any Hebrew whatsoever. But not only does Masa Israel require Hebrew lessons while you’re here (which your program provides), you pick up words and phrases just by being here. Our teacher never taught me “small or large,” but I’m still quite adept at ordering coffee. Besides, almost all Israelis speak a decent amount of English. You’ll be excellent at asking “Atah mediber anglit?” (“Do you speak English?”)
  • “I don’t know anyone else doing it.” Guess what, sweetie? Most people don’t. That’s sort of the whole point. This isn’t a vacation for you and your BFF. You’re coming here for yourself, to explore who you are and what interests you. And while you’re here, you’ll meet friends for life. Then it kind of does turn into a vacation for you and your new BFF.

Me and some of my good friends on my program

  • “My mom/dad/family will kill me.” This one is tough. But if you know this is what you want to do, eventually they will understand, trust me. When you bring it up to them, just stay calm and rational. Don’t turn into the high school version of yourself that yells “you don’t understand me!” and runs to your room and slams the door. Act like an adult. Be honest and explain how you feel and what you plan to get out of the experience. And if it helps, sign a piece of paper for your mom guaranteeing your return after the program. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
  • “It isn’t safe.” This one bothers me the most. I’m not going to try to argue that Israel is a country perfectly at peace and with no problems or challenges, because we all know that’s not true. But here’s the thing: while you’re here, it feels true. The country has one of the best armies in the world, and (as this summer demonstrated), Iron Dome is a pretty impressive defense system. Those two things really only come up if the country is directly under attack, which doesn’t happen terribly often. (And this summer, if the sirens went off in Tel Aviv, people were just concerned that their coffee wouldn’t spill with the explosion.) The rest of the time, it’s any average first-world country. People go out to dinner, farm their land, relax at the beach, develop startups that get sold to Google for $1 billion…you know, the usual.

Now you’ve convinced yourself and your loved ones that this dream of yours can become a reality. But how do you actually make it a reality? Just stay tuned for my next post, and all shall be revealed!

After her Masa Israel experience, Allie returned to her hometown of Chicago, where she currently works as a Communications and Development Specialist for Oyez. To read more about Allie’s adventures in Tel Aviv, check out her blog. Or, if you want to know more about Allie’s experience and her recommendations, just send her an email, she’s happy to help!

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