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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

During my sophomore year at Boulder, one of my best friends asked me if I would be interested in going on Birthright, a ten-day free trip to Israel for people of Jewish heritage, open to anyone 18 to 32 years old.

Growing up in a Jewish family, I had heard about Birthright but had never been given the right opportunity to go until this past summer. CU Boulder Chabad organized the Birthright trip and I was excited to go through Boulder: hoping to meet more people my age. Not to mention, I was looking forward to experiencing Israel for the first time. 

As someone who is on the shy side, I was somewhat apprehensive about going on the trip because I only knew a handful of people. When it was time to depart for the excursion, I flew from Denver to New York, where I met the rest of the group at JFK International Airport. Even though it was five in the morning, I could feel everyone’s excited anticipation before boarding the plane. 

Upon our arrival in Israel, we received our COVID tests and were assigned to one of two bus groups. I soon discovered we were expected to stay with our bus group for the duration of the trip; we only interacted with the other group during downtime at the hotels. My heart dropped when I saw the list of names for each bus and noticed that not only was I separated from the two friends I came with, but I was also placed on the bus with upperclassmen and recent graduates, while the other bus was filled with students my age. I approached the trip leaders immediately and asked if I could switch buses. They said they would let me know—but never did. Once we boarded the bus, I sat alone since I didn’t know anyone. As much as I wanted to meet new people, I also chose to go on the trip with two of my friends, so I assumed we would be together. Reluctantly, I had to come to terms with the trip leaders not allowing me to switch to the other bus. 

The students who just graduated planned to go on Birthright their sophomore year but couldn’t because of the pandemic. We were assigned random roommates the first night in the hotel, which I appreciated because otherwise, I didn’t know who I would room with. That evening, feeling uncomfortable, I forced myself to step out of my shell and get to know my roommates. The disappointment of not residing with my friends became a blessing in disguise because I ended up loving the girls in my room.

To help overcome my frustration about not being with my friends, I repeated a mantra in my head: “the universe has my back” and “everything is happening for me, not to me.” Miraculously, it worked. A few days into the trip, I became more comfortable and made a fantastic group of new friends.

Every minute of the trip was action-packed and planned, and although it was exhausting at times, it was well worth it. Not only did I meet so many great people, but I also fell in love with Israel and felt a deeper connection to my Jewish faith. So, for any Jew considering Birthright, don’t hesitate to sign up. And, instead of going with friends, be sure to have an open mind and heart because it will make the entire experience ten times better.

Taylor Gurtman

CU Boulder '24

Taylor is a senior at CU Boulder and is majoring in journalism. Besides writing articles, Taylor enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts, and laughing with her friends.