Greetings from the Holy Land! - Andrew Goldstein, CLIP: Onward Israel, Jerusalem
I’m currently sitting in an Aroma Espresso Bar in Jerusalem with an Israeli Iced Coffee (the most similar drink I can think of in America would be a mocha Frappuccino) and staring out as the light rail glides past the window. It’s day two of my internship at Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus and I’ve already edited a paper three times in preparation to submit it to a medical journal for publication.
I’m in love with Jerusalem.
The City of Gold sparkles as the sun chariots its way across the sky. While the heat can get stifling as the day wears on, morning and evening bring with themselves cool breezes and an almost tangible iridescence.
I’m Andrew, by the way. I’m a student at Stony Brook University studying journalism and pre-med. I’ve been living in Woodmere on Long Island since I was five, excluding a gap year program I took in Israel between high school and college.
I got to Israel a few weeks ago at five in the morning and after spending the day with my cousins and surprising my brother I was driven to the apartment off of Derech Chevron. The location is perfect. We’re around the corner from Tachana Rishona which has restaurants, clothing and game shops, and festival style events.
There are six other participants living in this apartment and everyone seems super chill. We’re not even a week in and I’m pretty sure I’ve had a deep meaningful conversation with each of them. Also it’s super cool living with six guys in another country and working together to keep the place clean and have a regularly stocked fridge. It’s like we’re adults!
As a cohort, we’ve already spent meaningful time together—something I was not expecting to happen so soon.
During our full day of orientation we met Tzlil--our head coordinator; more like a friend who’s more familiar with the terrain and is a bit more official. And she’s fluent in Hebrew. Over the course of the orientation we played 5 or 6 ice-breaker style games which helped us all get more comfortable with each other. At night we even packed into one of the girls’ apartments and watched the most recent episode of Game of Thrones #WinterIsComing.
We then proceeded to meet with our supervisors for our summer internships. I’m interning with a PhD in occupational therapy. I love the work culture: in Israel, it’s step up or step out. Besides, who doesn’t love a view of Mt. Scopus from their desk?
We also spent a few days up North with the other CLIP Onward Israel cohort in Tel Aviv. About 60 of us ate together, played games acquainted and reacquainted through all hours of the night, finally falling asleep under the starry skies of northern Israel.
We continued our northern adventure by taking a beautiful hike through the Hatzbani River.
On Thursday we went on an absolutely beautiful hike (I have the selfies to prove it) near the Hasbani River, a tributary to the Jordan River. I don’t think anyone got through the whole hike without getting wet. The water was frigid. After our hike, we went kayaking in the Jordan River—which was more throw your friend in the water than kayak!
To be honest, I was nervous before the program about our differences but even with all of our different backgrounds, identities on the religious spectrum, or political opinions, we’re all really getting along; almost to the point where I feel more comfortable with these “strangers” I’ve just met than with some people I’ve lived a lifetime with.
I’ve already written twice as much as I expected I’d write so I’ll pause this story here. Tzlil said we’re meeting at 7 at Zion Square tonight. I wonder what we’re gonna do. I’m sure it’ll be great.
Onward and upwards!