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Stephen Muss (Miami)

This morning, I finished packing the last of my bags.

    Posted by Carlos Gamboa on 12.17.19

This morning, I finished packing the last of my bags. The whole experience was surreal to me; it still feels like I just got here. When I first arrived on campus, I had myriad expectations for the coming semester. Happily, I met most of my goals without having to put in any special effort.

I made friends naturally as I went about my daily life here; over the course of countless bus rides, walks around campus and mornings in class, I forged friendships that I am confident will endure for years to come. I now have friends not only in cities across the United States, but also in various foreign countries, not to mention Israel. I am also proud that, even though I am not necessarily close with everybody, I have no outstanding conflicts with anyone on the program.

As I predicted, my general studies courses were challenging. I worked until ungodly hours of the morning on multiple occasions and often had to fight to stay awake to complete all of my assignments. However, I overcame every academic challenge that I confronted. Earlier today, I took my last final exam; as of now, I have an A in all of my classes, including Hebrew. Of course, I had no aspirations of becoming fluent in a completely foreign language in four months; notwithstanding, I feel I have made significant progress. Just recently, I noticed that I can understand most spoken Hebrew fairly well. Additionally, I can read street signs with enough accuracy to find my way around.

Only a few hours ago, I went to the store and bought some gifts for my family without speaking a word of English; I was able to carry out the entire transaction in Hebrew. I am quite satisfied with my current level of comprehension, as I think it is as good as I could have expected. Hopefully, the knowledge gained on this trip will serve as a foundation for future study of the language in college and beyond. The last of my primary goals was to create a stronger Jewish identity and connect with my heritage. Out of all of the hopes that I had for the program, I fulfilled this one beyond all of my expectations. I feel more Jewish than ever before and have no reservations about expressing my identity to my peers. I plan to attend services regularly and celebrate as many holidays as possible once I return home. As I enter my final days of the trip, I am more than satisfied with the achievement of my goals.