Our names are Andrea Goldstein and Yael Friedstrom, and for the next 8 weeks we will be sharing our experiences on Onward Israel with all of you. Each week, we will share a different aspect of our personal journeys, but we decided to write our first post together. Yael is a rising senior at The Ohio State University studying Nutrition and Exercise Science who will be interning at Reuth Medical Center, and Andrea is a rising junior at Tulane University studying Marketing, Management, and Psychology who will be working for a consulting firm called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT).
To begin our first blog, we will give a recap of our eventful first week of Onward Israel. This week was marked by 19-hour flight delays and group bonding, adjustments to culture shock, lots of falafel, gay pride, and the start of our professional internships.
Due to a series of unfortunate events (bad weather in Newark and flight delays), our group of 15 students missed our original flight to Tel Aviv and spent the night at hotel by Newark airport. While it may sound dreadful, our group bonded over late night pizza and the joy of avoiding a night on the airport floor.
Above: Hannah Wise and Yael Friedstrom enjoy their late-night pizza while spending the night at our airport hotel in Newark.
Above: Some group members just before we (finally) boarded our flight to Tel Aviv.
Upon arrival in Israel, we met the leaders of our trip, the BINA staff, who had falafel waiting for us at their headquarters in Tel Aviv. While at BINA, we learned about the details of our program and prepared for our first of four upcoming seminars; a tour of South Tel Aviv. The tour focused on the disparities in different areas of Tel Aviv, specifically the difference between the beautiful streets of the Neve Tzedek neighborhood, and the hardships of various areas in South Tel Aviv. Throughout the tour and during a lecture afterwards, we learned about the political climate influencing the fates of the Israeli citizens and asylum seekers in the neighborhood.
Above: Rothschild Street, one of the most beautiful and popular streets in our area.
After this eye-opening experience, our group experienced a shift in mood as we ventured to the beach for the annul Tel Aviv Gay Pride Festival. One of the largest in the world with 200,000 people in attendance, the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Festival was celebrated by Israelis and tourists around the world, despite its location in the deeply conservative Middle East. Our group took part in the celebration of love in Israel, and followed the parade with a night exploring Tel Aviv nightlife together.
Above: A view of just a small portion of the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Festival!
Finally, after an action-packed few days of traveling and sightseeing, our group got the chance to settle into our apartments. Just a few blocks away from each other, our two apartments are situated in the surrounding areas of Neve Tzedek and Florentin; two neighborhoods filled with various restaurants, coffee shops, and local entertainment. For example, a group of us visited Benedict, a restaurant famous for its 24/7 brunch and inch-thick pancakes, before heading a few blocks back to the beach to spend the rest of the day together.
Above: Benedict’s famous inch-thick pancakes, shared between many friends.
Above: A view from our group’s favorite beach that’s within walking distance of our apartments.
After a relaxing day at the beach, we began to prepare for our internships starting Sunday; an adjustment for those of us used to working Monday through Friday. While it may seem silly, many of our nerves centered around effectively using the Tel Aviv bus system to get to our internships. These fears turned out to be ungrounded as everyone safely and successfully made it to our first days as interns. Some of our participants’ work includes computer coding, advertising, mechanical engineering, and consulting, but we will give much more depth information about these jobs in the coming weeks of blogs. You will have to keep reading every week to find out more!
Andrea and Yael