By Allie Bernstein, Career Israel Intern  


This is Part 3 of a three-part blog series. Read Part 1 and Part 2


So, by now you’ve convinced yourself that you want to go on a Masa Israel program. But what practical steps do you have to take to make it all happen?


I won’t lie, spending a long period of time in a foreign country requires a lot of paperwork. But get yourself a list app (I recommend Wunderlist) and make sure you get a few pieces done every week in the months before you leave.


How To Make It Happen:


• Schedule all of your doctor’s appointments in advance. While there is excellent medical care in Israel, you want to be sure you’re fine and dandy before you go. Plus you’ll definitely want to bring your prescriptions to take care of yourself for the full length of your program (with a little extra), and your doctor may need to write you a special note. Shipping drugs gets very, very tricky. Don’t do it.

• Take a look at the insurance policy your program provides, and check to see if you need anything extra. My program’s insurance didn’t cover one or two things I needed, so I purchased an extra traveler’s insurance just to be safe.

• Get the right documentation so you can get the right documentation. I decided to save everything for the month before I left, which was not the best plan. I already had a passport, but I wanted to get a Masa Israel visa. To get that, I needed a current driver’s license. But to get that, I needed to verify my current address with proof. But to get that, I had to get in touch with my employer for a pay stub… You see my point. Months before you go, figure out the big things you need and work backwards to take care of it ahead of time.

• You probably already have many of the things you’re going to bring with you, but what needs to be arranged? Do you have jeans that need to be taken in? Do you need to get a converter for your phone charger? Do you want a portable charger for your travels? Do you need to get a birthday card for your brother, who will turn 20 while you’re gone? Make a list of these little things so they don’t keep you up at night, and do them!

• If you went to a big school like me (go Badgers!), check with your alumni association and see if there’s a chapter in Israel. You never know where you’ll find new friends.

• Put aside some time to stop in at your bank and tell them what you’re up to. My bank offers a credit card with no international fees, which was perfect for me. They put a notice on my account that I was traveling and not to worry if I withdrew money from Israel (although it’s quite expensive, so I hope I don’t have to). And while you’re at the bank, make sure you trade in a bunch of dollars for shekels so you land at the airport prepared.

• In an amazing turn of events, cell phone plans in Israel are way cheaper than in America. It’s pretty easy to find phone companies, and even easier to find deals. Check with your program before you purchase, though, as your program might offer a group rate for a specific company like mine did.

• Book your flight as soon as you can. I recommend trying a few different departure dates, as you never know what might be on sale.

• Start making a list of your online accounts where you’ll need to change your address. I moved back in with my mom before coming to Israel, so I needed to change my shipping/billing address for sites like Amazon, Paperback Swap, etc.

• Figure out your new digital photo storage plan. You’re going to be taking a lot of photos during your time in Israel, and they won’t all fit on your phone! My recommendation is to get a free Flickr account – you get a terabyte of storage!

• Not long before you leave, once you’ve organized yourself and are set to go, send a mass email to your friends and family telling them how they can stay in touch with you. If you’ve got a blog, a Skype handle, a virtual phone number, a What’s App account, a Glide ID – share it!


Hopefully this helps you realize that Masa Israel is doable. In fact, thousands of people do it every year! Why not you too?


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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