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Stephen Muss (Miami)

There were many factors that contributed to me wanting to study abroad.

There were many factors that contributed to me wanting to study abroad. First of all, I knew it was going to make me way more independent on so many levels. I had been away from home before when I was in sleep away camp but I didn’t have to be responsible for myself and my grades. Knowing that I knew that coming here would give me a preview of what college would be like.

Another reason for studying abroad was that it was so different than anything I could be doing at home. Here I was given this opportunity to be able to travel around a country that I have a connection too while still studying. I would have been crazy if I didn’t accept this opportunity. Why stay home in my 4 walled classrooms when I can be studying at the top of a mountain that my people have a history with? I had wanted to come to Israel for about 3 weeks just to travel as a tourist, but I imagined how much more I could see if I came for 4 months and actually integrated myself in the society. Sure there was the reason that studying abroad would look great on college applications but when I looked beyond college I knew that studying abroad would teach me life lessons that I couldn’t get anywhere else. Growing up things like boarding school and studying in foreign countries always intrigued me but I never thought that I would actually get the chance to do it.

The Impact Fellowship made those dreams come true for me in a way and even though I am so young, I would have regretted not taking this opportunity. Studying abroad, in general, gives you a new world view and perspective of the world because you get to see it from a different culture and a different language. For me, this experience of studying abroad was learning more about my culture and language. Most people from home hear about the Palestinian Israeli conflict and think that Israel is a hostile place overall. By studying abroad I was able to see first hand that, that is not the case at all, life goes on here just like everywhere else. Examples like that proved to me that without this studying abroad experience I wouldn’t have been able to see Israeli society for what it really is. Overall studying abroad made me more independent and helped boost my college application, but most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to embrace myself in the culture of my people giving me a different view on my Judaism and the world.