Frequently Asked Questions About Gap Year In Israel
Because of the limited number of spots in our program, we have a selective application process. Through the process, we assess which individuals will be a good fit for the program and accept as many qualified applicants as possible. The number of participants changes from year to year and affected by the number of people applying each year.
Read more about the application process >>
We advise you to arrive in Israel the day the program starts or a day before. We cannot provide housing for those who arrived sooner and also for the ones who wish to stay after the program ends.
The BIG IDEA gap year main program will begin in early September and end at the beginning of February. If you want to start your gap year in Israel later in the year, there is another program starting at the beginning of February and ending in June.
The full-year experience (Main program & internship extension) Is starting in September and ending at the beginning of June. For all the program dates – click here >>
Once submitting your online application, you will be sent an aptitude test to measure your basic capacity to understand technological materials, which takes about 60 minutes. Then someone from our team will contact you for a video interview.
After the interview and at the end of each round we will send an acceptance letter to each participant
Yes, you are still able to come to our program! However, you will need to contact your local Israeli consulate and request a year-long deferral from the army. Please note that this procedure can take several weeks.
Yes! Our participants come with a wide range of Hebrew skills and are placed accordingly in a leveled ulpan (Hebrew learning class) at Ben Gurion University. Even if you don’t know Hebrew, you will learn the basics to help you in your daily life here in Israel. All courses and activities are in English.
All of our participants are 17-21 years old, taking a gap year before college or taking a break in the middle of college to come to a gap year in Israel. In the past, we’ve had participants from all across the world: the USA, Canada, England, South Africa, Colombia, Spain, and Australia.
Get to know the participants better – Click here >>
On a daily basis, whenever participants aren’t in class, working, or in an activity, they are free to spend time with friends and go out. On most weekends participants are free either to stay in the apartments or go explore and travel in Israel. Our staff is happy to help plan trips or set participants up with host homes for Shabbat and Holidays. Additionally, there are vacations during all religious and national holidays as well as a winter break in December and spring break during Passover. There are also 2-3 free evening each week with no planned activities.
This course is designed for people of any level- including very beginners! Our teachers will work with every student at his/her level and ensure that they are moving along at the right pace. Many of our participants come in with no computer science knowledge and finish the course with the ability to develop totally functional apps.
Participants who already have a background in computer science are in a great place to start the course! Once everyone’s level of experience is assessed, our teachers will be able to give more advanced coursework to those who feel they are ready for it. Our teachers will know how to challenge each and every participant.
At the end of the course, when you finish all your assignments and your final project, you will get a certification from INT college as a Front-End Developer or a Web Designer.
Living in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, our gap year participants take full advantage of the cultural enrichment, night life, and convenience of the two most popular cities in Israel for today’s young adults.
These cities provide countless options for: diverse, high-quality community service,internship experiences,countless enrichment opportunities,proximity to attractions such as the Old City in Jerusalem and the beach in Tel Aviv.
relevance to program participants as they become integrated into their homes.
From these centers, students also have easy access to the comprehensive public transportation system allowing them to explore Israel in their free time.
Students on our gap year programs will be immersed into Israeli society, living in comfortable apartments in desirable neighborhoods in each city.
In Tel Aviv: students live in the trendy Florentine neighborhood surrounded by young Israelis.
In Jerusalem: students live in downtown Jerusalem, a few minutes from the popular Shuk Machane Yehuda and Ben Yehuda street and just a 15 minute walk from the Old City .
By establishing relationships with your Israeli neighbors and the staff of your volunteer placement, you will become part of the surrounding community and grow to feel “at home” in each city.
You will receive a monthly local bus pass which will allow you to travel around the city in which you are living (Jerusalem or Tel Aviv) using the public bus system. This will enable you to get to and from your volunteer placements, classes and explore the city.
Aardvark students are housed with other program participants in single sex apartments. The number of people in each apartment ranges from four to six depending on the layout of the apartment. All of the apartments are fully furnished and equipped with kitchen appliances and utensils. Every apartment has WiFi. With the guidance of qualified counselors, you will learn to cook, clean, budget, do laundry, and live together with your roommates.
Understanding that this will be the first time many participants are living on their own, staff will work with the students in each apartment to ensure a positive group dynamic and the health and welfare of the participants.
Throughout the year, the counselors hold weekly apartment meetings to facilitate and solve any issues which may arise, and also pay friendly visits to the students’ apartments. As the year progresses, the students will be encouraged to be more independent in their problem-solving in order to foster growth and maturity.
We do not offer a meal plan. Participants will be living in fully furnished apartments including a kitchen with cooking equipment, utensils, and dishes. In order to best accommodate everyone’s eating habits, we removed the cost of food from tuition and allow each participant to be responsible for his/her food. Our staff will work with each apartment and help them learn to budget, go grocery shopping, and cook for themselves.
Big Idea has participants of all levels of observance. During the program, we will visit religious sites and explore the Jewish traditional holidays. Occasionally we will organize Shabbat dinners, but most of the time the participants will be free on Shabbat and Jewish holidays and can practice however they would like. Some participants choose to stay in and organize group Friday night dinners, some choose to go out, and some go away to a family in Israel. There are no organized prayer services but our staff will be happy to direct you to nearby synagogues.
The kitchen at our apartments is Kosher and we place participants that share the same level of observance in the apartments.
Israel has very good allergen labeling on food, and our staff can help you learn what to look for when checking labels. You will be preparing most of your own food, and when the food is provided by BIG IDEA we will for sure have options for everyone.
Basic medical insurance is provided by the program. Coverage includes doctor’s visits, medications, and emergency care for most new illnesses and incidents which may arise during the program. Pre-existing conditions are excluded, as well as other limitations applying, therefore students are encouraged to maintain their own private health insurance from their country of origin. Specific information detailing the medical insurance policy is made available to participants’ families once registered for the program. Upon arrival to Israel, students will be briefed about how to use the health services and which local English-speaking doctors and pharmacies are recommended.Urgent psychological care is also provided by the program for students in crisis. All psychological treatment is kept strictly confidential between the student and the therapist.
All participants have health insurance that covers doctor visits. In most cases, one of our staff members will be available to take you to an appointment if you get sick and make sure you get the care and medicine you need to get better.
The safety and security of our gap year participants is our top priority.
Our staff is available 24/7 for our participants and have experience with long term programs in Israel. We are in constant contact with the situation room administered by the Israeli Ministry of Education, Military, and Police who approve all aspects of our program.
The apartment building is equipped with shelters and our staff will instruct participants how to act in cases of emergency.
If there is any change in the security situation in Israel, participants and their families will be briefed.
BIG IDEA has a zero tolerance policy for drugs- this includes misuse of prescription drugs and any illegal drugs. Participants over 18 are legally allowed to drink in Israel. Drinking alcohol is not permitted during program time. We expect all participants to drink and act responsibly in their free time.