Year Course The Unexpected Journey

By Year Course in Israel

Rhianna Bongart
Year Course 2018-2019

Joining FZY in 2016, Year Course was a name thrown around a few times over our four-week trip to Israel, but quite frankly, it didn’t mean anything to me. The idea of taking a year out before I went to University was never something I had planned on, nor thought about before, but during my continued involvement in FZY, it became something I considered more and more. Since my first visit to Israel, my love for this amazing place has only grown stronger and stronger. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone to hear about my plans to move to Israel soon after I graduated University. It was always the plan to finish up a-levels, get a degree, then come here, I mean, what other way was there to do it? That was the thing everyone did, school, university, then onto the big wide world. The dreaded conversation starter of ‘Hi Mum and Dad, I don’t want to go to University next year!’ was how my year course journey initially began.

This year has been an absolute rollercoaster. I’m sure I can speak on behalf of most people, if not everyone, to say I didn’t entirely know what I was getting myself into the day I arrived in Israel. How does one actually prepare to go away from the comfort of home for 9 months? It isn’t an amount of time you can easily measure. How on earth did I pack-up my entire life into two suitcases? Personally it was one of the hardest things to do. Why didn’t my Mum let me bring the same shoes in 3 different colours? I’m sure I would have worn them all…at least once anyway! And most importantly, who are these people I’m literally going to be living on top of for the next 9 months?

One thing that was a struggle was keeping updated on everything back home, everyone’s started at University, got a whole new group of friends, more gossip than a text can hold, but when is there time to sit have these conversations with 15 people that I took for granted every day? Thankfully, time difference was on my side, but these aren’t the usually holiday catch up calls where you made one friend by the pool. These are catch ups with 20 new names thrown into every conversation, my best friend still gets confused between who’s Sydney and who’s Shayli, me trying to explain the floor plan of Beit Hillel, and why on earth it sounds like there’s a riot outside, which to be fair, there usually was in my apartment, thank you Tut Front! This mad-house we call Year Course became our reality, became our lives, and honestly, I don’t know how on earth it has gone so fast.

My personal Year Course journey taught me a lot about myself. It taught me that following the generic path that suits most people isn’t necessarily what I wanted to follow, that I wanted something different and there was no reason to do something just to please others.

Spending this year with such a diverse group of people really has taught me a lot of things, one awfully important one being that maybe my standards of cleaning are slightly, ever so slightly, too high. Everyone had something to offer, every single person brought something to the table that made this group of people who we are, and I honestly couldn’t be more thankful for that.

My personal Year Course journey taught me a lot about myself. It taught me that following the generic path that suits most people isn’t necessarily what I wanted to follow, that I wanted something different and there was no reason to do something just to please others. A month into Year Course I started looking around at different options, things I could do and paths I could take, if I did take the step to make aliyah. Every single person had a different opinion, and every single person had valid points about why their programme would suit me best. Constantly replaying in my head was the conversation I had with my Dad before I left London, him saying ‘I worry about sending you if you aren’t going to come home’ and me replying with, ‘What do you mean?! I have a place at University, of course I’m coming back’… oops, sorry Dad! Thankfully, I had the biggest support team here, from conversations with Joel about programmes, and with Amit and Ilana about jobs in the army, and the tzofim who were more excited than I was about the prospect, I made the decision that next year I won’t be attending University and I will be making aliyah.

Following that decision came a few weeks of really hard phone calls, telling my nearest and dearest that I’d be back for a few months and then I’m off to join a foreign army and live in a country a 5 hour flight away, and thank goodness I had people around me to hold my hand, and cry with me, there were a lot of tears. Since then, everything I have done has shown me that I have made the correct decision. It is also so comforting for my parents to know that if anything were to happen here, I have a support system just as big as I do at home, ready to help if I need anything. Think about it, Ilana and I already have friday night dinner plans, Amit will definitely miss taking me to the doctor for my continuous ear problems that I’m sure will continue, and Elior already offered to do my washing if I’m in Jerusalem- I’m completely sorted!

Sometimes differing from the norm is needed, it works for some, it doesn’t work for others. Without Year Course, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to change my plans, I wouldn’t have a new group of friends, and I certainly wouldn’t have all the memories from this year. So here’s a thank you, to all of you here today, for making my Year Course journey what it has been. I can’t wait to see what amazing things everyone will achieve in the future, and remember, you’ll always have a home in Israel.

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