“Yep,” I smile and look down at my fidgeting hands. “I came here because my parents have friends here, but when I arrived, I didn’t know anyone in the whole country.”
I am leaving tomorrow, and looking back on it, I did not think I was going to make it this long. When I first arrived, I called my parents and begged to come home. I was honestly terrified. When I walked down the streets, I thought “am I going to get stabbed?” and as I feel asleep and heard airplanes passing by, I thought “Are they going to drop a bomb?” Hebrew letters looked cold, hard, and unforgiving and the language left me isolated. Not having anyone I could talk to was really hard, because as my friends know, I need to talk.
This is easily forgotten, though, because after some time these feelings fade and are replaced by the excitement of the adventure. So when I think about my trip to Israel, I will think about all the amazing moments and forget how scared I initially felt.
This post is for the wanderlusting Westonian planning their own Senior Project. Get as far away from your safety net as you can, fall head first into the world, and allow it to catch you. Trust me–it’s so worth it. But here are some things I used to stay balanced in the free fall.
Music and a book: when I was alone, music was with me. When I needed to escape, I had the land of my book.
Whatsapp: although it is important to disconnect, sometimes it really helped reaching out to a friend or family member who cheered me up and gave me the confidence boost to go out and make new friends.
Breathing: falling asleep, driving to a new place, meeting someone new, taking a deep breath calmed me down.
Openness: this may seem obvious, but there are different social norms and way of doing things here. I had to get really relaxed about plans and trust everything was just going to work out-which it has.
Journal: I just write down everything I do and every thought I have. It helps me clear my head so each day I have a fresh set of eyes and an empty mind.
Stretch: not only does it release muscle tightness, it releases mind tightness. I felt much better after five minutes of stretching as if anxiety was held in my back or quads.
Confidence: this is the hardest, but I just keep telling myself that no one cares and if I embarrass myself I will never see them again. I have yet to feel embarrassed. Saying what I think, trying something new, meeting a stranger, this is what has made the trip interesting even though it was the hardest to do.
Westtown: finally, I have kept Westtown with me. When I explain Quakerism and my school to everyone I meet, I am reminded about why I am here in the first place. Westtown trained me for four years for the world–giving me the ability to find peace in silence, community amongst strangers, and strength in myself.
2 thoughts on “So you came to Israel alone?”
I’m inspired! Being alone is difficult, especially in our world today. Especially in a country that is politically charged and spirituality vibrant. I’m so glad you’ve found the tools to help you make it through a day. This knowledge will serve you well as you head off to meet your future. Once I found comfort in being alone, I realized how important this was, because it taught me how to create boundaries with people and experiences who don’t nourish my soul. As you know, the world can be complex and challenging, so the gifts of being resilient and patience, and of finding peace in silence, community amongst strangers, and strength within (love this!) will just allow you to expand and extend your brilliant self. Well done, Hannah! I’m so proud of who you are becoming. I cannot wait to see how you make our world a better place.
Cheers to possibility!
Hannah, I followed your posts. Wonderful writing, photos, messages. It sounds like you had a life changing trip.
I’d love to hear how re-entry goes.