Cultural Experience | Tel Aviv

How One Appetite for Wanderlust has been Satisfied in Israel

“You’re not Jewish? Why are you in Israel?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question, I would have acquired enough money at this point to travel the whole world.

I usually tell people that it is because I have been in Fiddler on the Roof four times and instead of being in it a fifth time, I just came to the country to live the musical out.

But if someone is genuinely curious as to why I, a non-Jew, decided to move half-way across the world for three years, I tell them this;

I have learned more from traveling than I have ever learned in a classroom. When I first travelled to India in 2008, I knew I would do whatever I could to spend the rest of my life traveling. So when I was looking for a university to finish my degree at, I knew it had to be an International school. How many times in our lives do we get to pick up and move to a new country, free of attachment? This itching wanderlust that every 20-year-old feels was brewing inside me. Along with the itching wanderlust every 20 year old feels, is the desire to figure yourself out and be part of something. All I had to do was decide on a country…..

Of course, this craving and satisfaction for wanderlust can apply to hundreds of countries throughout the world, but I chose ISRAEL. And my appetite has been satisfied, the least to say.

So why Israel and what does it have to offer that I cannot find anywhere else?

Have you turned on the news lately?? Why would I want to sit back and watch it all happen on a 12-inch screen when I can be right in the middle of it? In 2012, I was here for Operation Pillar of Defense, which was essentially a 9-day battle between the IDF and Hamas. If waking up and running to a bomb shelter doesn’t change your perspective on life, I don’t know what will. (Yes…. It’s much scarier than it sounds.)

Israel is the home of the three most prominent monotheistic religions in the world, not just Judaism. So what better place to explore the spiritual, questioning self, than in the Holy Land?? That’s exactly the something I am trying to figure out and I came to Israel hoping to dive more into this curiosity. Thus far, I have received more than I could have ever prepared for. I have had beautiful and amazing encounters with Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. All have shown me an incredible amount of hospitality, warmth and community that I have never experienced in the States. Whether you believe their teachings or not, being able to observe and participate in these three diverse and humbling cultures is enlightening.

israel dinner

A roof top dinner with a local Muslim family

 Hummus… Need I say more?

Before ever coming to Israel, I heard Jerusalem was beautiful and I wanted to see it myself. My expectations were dramatically exceeded. Walking the streets of Jerusalem is like walking into a history book. The smell of Israeli spices immediately draws you in, as you walk past breathtaking walls of white stone that have been in place since the Ottoman Empire. If I am looking for an adventure, I just spend a day in the Old City, because it is inevitable to find a secret passage that leads you to a deserted rooftop or a Bedouins shop for a cup of tea. And as a female, I can say that there is nothing better than the shopping found in Jerusalem.

I spent 2 years in NYC so I love the city life. But I also was born in raised in California. Israel is perfect for me, because I have found a combination of my two favorite places in the world in the city of TEL-AVIV! Tel-Aviv is essentially Venice Beach meets Manhattan. I wake up in the morning, eat at a cute and local café, walk the busy streets with a cup of Aroma (Israel’s version of Starbucks), and then take a quick swim in the Mediterranean, in the middle of November. THAT is something I cannot find anywhere else. With a city like this at my doorstep, there’s no way I can get homesick.

As someone who loves to nap and relax like it’s my job, I knew I had to find something more than just a siesta in Spain. I have found something better in the wonderful land of Israel; the Sabbath. Imagine one day a week where almost the entire country shuts down. I get to live in a place where napping, rest and delicious home cooked meals are given a whole day to itself. This weekly stress-free day has had more positive repercussions than I could possibly imagine and is one of the things I will miss most when I leave.

spices, coffee and tea images in Israel

Needless to say, Israel has so much to offer. I came here with the reasons that made me want to come here and have been given more than I could have ever imagined. My international program and university is awesome, but there is so much more that the country has to offer than just it’s incredible education. I am so excited I have decided to finish my degree in one of the greatest countries in the world. I have chosen to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible, exploring the country and all it has to offer. Israel offers me new cultural experiences, spiritual exploration, historic adventures, a beach city that never sleeps, political insight, the chance to relax and the opportunity of a lifetime.

So does that answer why I came to Israel?

israel senery

Victoria Sorrells

Bar Ilan University | 1 story

Victoria Sorrells, originally from OC, California, has been to over 30 countries and is currently residing in Tel Aviv, Israel. She is finishing up her degree in Communications and Political Science at Bar Ilan University. She loves adventuring in the Middle East, writing stories and songs, eastern philosophy, airplanes, Steve Martin and living life as a Gentile among Jews!

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