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Studying abroad is an adventure of self-responsibility.

Studying abroad is an adventure of self-responsibility. Every aspect of the experience requires you to be responsible for yourself because you are given a lot of freedom. Basic routine things like studying, brushing your teeth, and getting enough to eat are entirely up to you because when you’re studying abroad your parents aren’t there to remind you to do even these basic tasks. It is really easy to not study. Deadlines can easily be forgotten or ignored so you have to keep on top of all of your classes without reminders. Also, all of your friends are just outside the door hanging out and watching TV and it takes a lot of willpower to not go fishing for distraction. Beyond that, people here often study out in the Moadon (common room) where there are many distractions. I personally have a hard time focusing when there are conversations and the TV around me so I have to find a quiet place and fight the urge to go join my friends. This was something I learned very quickly and now, I know myself better. 

As far as brushing teeth and eating, there are specific times that the Cheder Ochel (cafeteria) is open for meals. If you miss them as I have done in the past, you have to find the meal somewhere else. There are plenty of options in town, but the experience of simply forgetting to go to dinner taught me that I need to be conscious of the time and my plan for the evening. Similarly, with brushing teeth, you have to make sure that you do it before rooms in time. My normal routine is to brush my teeth right before I go to bed, but here, I have had to be more conscious of my schedule and timing to make sure that I get it done before I can’t leave my room. In the last four months, I have learned so much about taking care of my needs and managing my time.

During my time studying abroad in Israel, I also learned that if I have a problem, I need to ask for help directly. I can’t just wait and hope that somebody notices my issue. There are 35 kids and only three madrichim on this program, so they’ve got their hands full. Beyond asking for help, I learned the significance of recognizing in myself when I have a problem. We are always so busy and it is easy to ignore and issue and just “push through.” Although this sometimes works, in reality, it’s just sticking your head in the sand. When you’re living away from your parents you are the only one who is taking responsibility for yourself and therefore, you get the opportunity to learn these life lessons.

Studying abroad is an amazing experience because it is a journey beyond interesting classes, amazing friends, or awesome trips. When you’re studying abroad the thing you learn most about is yourself. It has been an amazing opportunity and experience as a highschooler because these lessons of self-responsibility are often learned in college or when you leave your parents’ house for good. Studying abroad gives you a trial period. Now I know so much more about myself and therefore I think my experience in college will be more successful because I won’t need to figure out all of these basic necessities for the first time when I get there.