Sam’s Experience From His Gap Year In Israel
Meet Sam from Manhattan. Sam is a part of BIG IDEA Gap Year’s first semester. He has been living in Israel for the past few months, so if there’s anyone you should ask about this program in Israel – it’s him! Read what he has to say about his life in Be’er Sheva so far:
Sam, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 18 years old, from NYC. During High School I studied Biology, But I was constantly trying to teach myself Java, Python, all those different languages, but never in any sort of formal classes.
I also volunteered at BBYO, (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization), which included working with Jewish teens, in the US and in Canada. During my Sophomore year I worked along with a few others on founding the Manhattan region of the program, a region I was then president of as a Senior. When we established the Manhattan region we started with 20 people, and grow to around 170 during my senior year. I really enjoyed the leadership aspect throughout the entirety of my work with BBYO.
What were your goals for this Israel gap program?
My goals for BIG IDEA Gap Year are definitely to learn about app design and programming and to improve my Hebrew, but on top of that, and I think, more importantly, I came here to grow as a person, to mature and gain responsibility.
Do you feel like this gap year is answering your expectations?
BIG IDEA Gap Year program offers me all the opportunities to achieve what I set out to achieve during my gap year. I’m showing up to class, programming every day, learning Hebrew, and get to practice my Hebrew around the country while socializing nonstop. I live with roommates, which means I get to practice being responsible and doing a lot of things by myself for the first time. Myself and my fellow housemates cook for ourselves, we clean our apartment ourselves, we do our own laundry, we put ourselves to bed. This was a crazy notion for a while – not having set bedtime – and just being responsible enough for arriving to class on time every single day. We are doing all the things you sort of never want to do but understand you have to, and I feel BIG IDEA Gap Year program is giving me the push and determination to do all these things. Overall, the program is really helping me grow as a person. I really feel myself growing and gaining independence, responsibility, and maturity.
What were your fears before coming to this gap program in Israel?
Before I came here, obviously I was nervous about moving to another country, but I was especially nervous that I might not get along with the other participants, that I might not find any close friends and more. However, upon my arrival, I realized immediately that this notion was just ridiculous because everyone here is so nice, and friendly, interesting and smart. I had such a great time getting to know everyone, and I’m so excited to get to know everyone even better over the next coming months.
Tell us about the program itself.
We are taking courses in a variety of programming languages here in the hi-tech centre in Be’er Sheva, so by the end of these first few months we have the skills required to design our own websites and our own apps for IOS and Android. From there, we are going to take these skills and move into internships in startups here in Israel and get to apply our new found knowledge to the actual field.
During the last month of the program, we are also going to do an internship at the centre of digital innovation (CDI), right upstairs from where our course is, and I’m so excited to put that on my resume.
How is it do to a gap year in Israel?
Over the last few years I have really grown to love Israel, so my favorite thing about this program is really just the opportunities it gives me to get to know the country better. To get to know all the different locations and get to know the city of Be’er Sheva, that I’ve never visited before. Also to get to know the people and the culture, the holidays and the food. Overall, I really appreciated this amazing opportunity!
What do you feel like you’re gaining during this year?
The value in a program like BIG IDEA Gap Year is that when this year is over, I’m going to be able to go back to the US and begin college with a year of maturity over anyone else. A year of skill in working and in technology (in a second language, that no one else, none of my peers are going to have).
To finish us off – here’s a quick round!
Favorite food? Pizza.
Favorite Holiday tradition? Trick or Treat, during Halloween.
Favorite pastime? Playing video games, my favorite is Overwatch.
Favorite color? Green.
Favorite word? Pixel.
Favorite sound? A single clap.
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