I’m beginning to feel like I didn’t make studying abroad out to be a big enough deal in my head. I’ve been to Israel every year for the past six years, for some period of time between 10 days and three months (not to mention three less memorable trips when I was significantly younger). In fact, since I graduated high school in February 2007, I’ve spent about two months total at home in Maryland and almost five months in Israel, on four separate trips.
In high school I imagined studying abroad to be some outrageous journey. The sounds of indecipherable tongues would dictate my mysterious adventures. I’d feel lost and confused but it would all be for the better.
When I made the decision to study in Jerusalem I accepted that my experience would be anything but that. I decided that I couldn’t “study abroad” without the “study.” Jerusalem was the place I wanted to live and learn. I saw myself, and still do see myself, returning here when I graduate from Northwestern to work in the regional media, an opportunity I’ll hopefully begin later this semester. I envisioned my semester abroad to be the test drive for my future.
Mistakenly, I don’t think I ever imagined this semester to be any exciting experience in itself. Landing in Tel Aviv didn’t feel any different than the last time I was here, five months ago. I’m essentially as self-sufficient here as I am in America.
It all hit me today when my class got back our midterm exams. I got an A, as I had on every other evaluation thus far in the class.
Around me, my peers were cheering and congratulating each other on Cs. “Man, if I’d done any better I’d be taking the whole class out for drinks!” said a classmate who occasionally shows up, and at earliest 30 minutes late.
I’d never felt so ridiculous for studying. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t pulling any all-nighters preparing for this exam. But I felt like I’d done everything wrong up until this point. The Wednesday night before our exam had been the Jerusalem Beer Fest, some sort of all-you-can-sample fair of imported and domestic beers. If you’re picking up on the ambiguity of my knowledge it’s probably because I wasn’t even considering going to get wasted the night before a midterm, as a good portion of my classmates had.
So what am I thinking now? I’ve been here for just about two weeks, but it’s already time for a fresh start. So, I’ll probably never be the student that goes to Beer Fest the night before an exam. But it would definitely not hurt if I tried to have more fun and let myself have some ridiculous this-will-never-get-back-to-the-States experiences.