Jenni | Masa Israel

participant year: 
To me, Israel is like my second home. I have visited the country 7-8 times and even lived here on two separate occasions. The reason? Besides a love for country (the incredible hikes, the bustling cities, the religious history, etc.), a big part of my family lives here.
For starters, my Dad’s brother (my Uncle) and his family live on a Moshav outside of Ashkelon and I’ve jumped at any chance to see them. I also have a great aunt and all of her family living here along with tons of second and third cousins. And of course, all the Israelis I have met growing up in Jewish community are here. 
But the reason for this visit is quite different. My fiancé, Jon, is attending medical school in August and the commitment is daunting. (That’s 4-8 years of school, with limited to no vacations!). We wanted to take one last big hoorah that would be a nice balance of playing and working. Israel immediately sprung to mind. I speak the langauge, I have family in case i get homesick, and I know that everyday will be awesome.
And what made the pot even sweeter? This would give Jon, who has only come here once for Birthright, a chance to connect to Israel on a deeper level.  We found this program and knew it was exactly what we wanted.
Back home, I was working full time at a global advertising firm in New York City. Hoping to do something a bit different and to take advantage of my love for writing, I got an internship at Time Out Israel Magazine. For those who don't have the magazine in their own home town, the monthly magazine is a travel/ entertainment guide, and this one is tailored to everything Israel. I am an avid reader of Time Out New York so I was familiar with the content and knew I would love it.
And I do! I play the role of a junior editor. I research upcoming events and do a lot of fact checking, which always keeps me in the know. I also am one of the voices on their Facebook page and I love seeing people's responses to upcoming events and Israel news. Our community has grown since I've been here from under 30,000 fans to almost 60,000 fans!
The coolest part about the position is that I get the chance to write. After only a few weeks of working, I even received my own byline, writing a full-page article with my name in it. Look out for my name in the upcoming magazine because I have another article coming out!
What I love most about my time here is it really is all about “work hard, play hard.” While at times, I work long days, leaving my internship with writing cramps, I also have every night and half a week to just have fun. For the first time in my life, I’m a five minute walk from the beach and I am certainly taking advantage of it (just check out my tan!). And there is never a dull moment in the White city, with Tel Aviv having everything from educational museums, rambunctious clubs, to delicious restaurants. 
And beyond the physical insanity that is Tel Aviv, I have made a group of incredible friends who I can always count on to join me on any Israel adventure. We have traveled with Oranim to places like Eilat, where we hiked up and down the Maktesh, and traveled independently, spending shabbos in Haifa with a friend's relative. No matter, it's always been incredible. 
With the program more than half way down, it is certainly crunch time. We are planning more trips and hikes to ensure that we see every nook and cranny of Israel. And we can't wait until we see it all!