Why Taking a Gap Year Made my College Tansition Easier

Instead of jumping straight into sweaty parties, rehearsed introductions, and supposedly the best four years of my life, I decided to press pause and take a gap year in Israel. Was it the most transformative year of my life so far? I would say so. Did I find bits and pieces of myself scattered across Israel? As cliche as it sounds, I most certainly did.  

When I arrived at Brandeis three weeks ago, I moved in with a fresh attitude and mindset. I watched my new friends grapple with the uneasiness that comes with moving far away from home for the first time feeling like a veteran. Before last year, I had no friends and family in Israel, and on my program, we were free every other weekend. With each impending free weekend, I would run around frantically, desperate to find an Israeli to host me. It was a terrifying feeling to be thrown on my feet in the middle of Jerusalem and not have a home to resort to.  As much situations go, with time, I stopped feeling like I was free falling and the prospect of free weekends began to excite rather than intimidate me.

My third night in Israel I was on a camping trip, and we ended up sleeping on the side of a highway because the truck with all of the food couldn’t reach the designated campsite. I speak minimal Hebrew and half of the classes I took last year were taught in Hebrew. In Jerusalem, I lived with 30 Americans and 30 Israelis in a building that normally fits 25 individuals. I know how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

If I didn’t take a gap year then I believe my college transition would have been a lot harder. Last year, I was forced to learn how to function as a human in a foreign country without the shelter of my home, family, and the only life I ever knew. Beyond that, I’ve learned from my own experience that it takes time. It’s unrealistic to assume that you’re going to have it all figured out instantly. Things fall into place when you least expect them to. As for now, I’m taking the skills I learned last year to help me take college one day at a time, and so far that strategy has been working quite well for me.