By: Gila Harris
I was the biggest homebody. I had lived in the same house my entire life. The thought of making Aliyah – leaving the comfort of my childhood home in Plainview, New York – and living and studying at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem was terrifying to me. Yet at age 26, that is what exactly I did. I said goodbye to my home, my brothers, my parents, and my adorable cat, Oliver, and made Aliyah.
On my first day at Ulpan Etzion, after getting a little lost in the hallways, I turned to the first person I saw and awkwardly muttered in Hebrew, “Cheder Ochel?” (thanks, Camp Moshava!) The guy, whom I later found out only spoke French, understood my Hebrew and, with a smile, walked me to the lunch room.
So began my incredible five-month experience at Ulpan Etzion. Before I knew it, though, my Hebrew improved, and I found amazing friends, which helped me integrate into life in Israel.
Learning from the experiences of others is a great way to prepare yourself for your own Aliyah.