- Aniketh Girish
The last few months were something special - something different. It was an emotional rollercoaster, brought me down, tore me apart. In spite of them, there was the experience of my lifetime, best moments of my life ever and this post is all about it. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to spend a month in an international university and thereby I spend almost 1 month as an International summer exchange student at Ben Gurion University, Israel.
“Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.”
In a nutshell, Each second I spend added to my life learning. It was rigorous - exciting - scary and just a perfect medium to introspect the actual me and who I am and how I react to things out of my comfort zone.
By inspecting the life of foreigners and moreover we as a third person in an entirely different situation, I think I reached to an understanding and could be said as the best takeaways for me from the entire trip would be: Life is short. Enjoy the most out of it. Never left out something or procrastinate because we cannot assure yourself about what will happen tomorrow. Do what you need to do, say what you wish to say, right away. Because you should never regret it later. Because we always see the situation that we are in at the point of time while we are blindsided to see the bigger picture. The other best learning I would say is that how to stand for yourself and stay put on your decisions. Something else that which keeps ringing inside my head is that never let others opinion and destroys your inner peace. Everyone might have heard this. Even I did too. But this was different. I experienced it. I believe it's hardcoded into me.
I started off this fantastic adventurous journey at the start of July (1st of July) and I am writing this down when it's time to wrap up the entire trip and while just hours before I boarding the return flight to India(IND). Well, you know, I got lazy and stopped it in the middle and right now I am completing this post in my hostel room at Amritapuri. Thanks to a friend of mine, Amrit Sreekumar who hosted me for the night before and dropped me off till the airport in Kochi. I think I should start from there as the initial/starting point of this entire journey. The flight journey was quite nice. Firstly good experience with Air India and a book in hand to help me strike out boredom.
I landed in Israel by 2nd of July midnight probably and went straight to the accommodation that was arranged for us by BGU. Rather than saying that they arranged an accommodation for us wouldn't do justice for exactly what they did for us in co-operation with the Ben Gurion Campus tower. The welcoming was so sweet and enriching. Who does like to see a welcoming sweet note at your doorstep when you enter the place that you are going to live in for the rest of the month? :D
Let me start off by talking about the whole BGU and Beer Sheva experience. The course - most of it engaged with classes in Machine learning, Security and a great exposure towards leveraging Machine Learning to bring down Cyber Security threats that prevail in the society. This week mostly included roaming around the whole Beer Sheva, our Ben Gurion University and the place where we were accommodated. Beer Sheva is beautiful, BGU is just amazing - vibrant students culture and amazing university architecture. There was a building just left for students to conduct their programs as they wish for and engage in social activities. They screen different movies in different weeks and they have theatres inside the university itself for that. Moreover, during the FIFA football world cup fever, they screened the game in the student's centre. And to enjoy the game we had unlimited beer, popcorn, coke and much more. (PS: You have to pay though :P). One thing that is evidently notable is that they love their country and they portray it everywhere. You could find Israel flags all around the place, in apartments - in houses - in cars etc. Further, The sunset over there is just love <3. You can find those beautiful pictures that I captured during the entire trip here and I have attached a few pictures of the sunset above.
During the first week at Israel, we were lucky enough to witness the socio-cultural fest that happened in the old city of Beer Sheva. Good amount of fantastic street food, Pub and clubs open all night, gathering arranged at a central location with music and dance - just the perfect way to spend your weekends :)
One thing that I loved about Israel was that everything that happened around there was well organised and the traffic policy that they followed was terrific. Pedestrians come first always and that is the best thing to be followed by a human being on the road. "Inside of us - it truly did make us feel that we own the street bruh :P"
This is where the fantastic people I met would come into the picture. Dana, Rotem, Amit, our professor Dr Nir Nissim and much. Few of the very best people whom I have met in my whole life. The enthusiasm with which they work and develop this upbringing of an international summer program is tremendous. The counsellors were a great support for every little detail we had. The people we meet. Other than that, my colleagues were great. Different - the mixture of people around the globe. China, India, Russia and Greece. Further talking about Israeli's in general - most of them are really healthy and stays fit unlike in India :P. Maybe because their appetite is incredibly huge as compared. Next thing would be that - because they are this fit, most of them are quite big as compared to the physique Indian, especially south Indians carry. Talking about Indians, they love India and Indians a lot. They take vacations for like 2-6 months and travel all around India. Most of the Israeli's whom I met and engaged in a conversation outside from BGU had visited India and talking to me had made me miss our country :P. Sweet thing to hear :D.
We roamed around in different places in Israel such as the Old City of Beer Sheva, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Ashdod and much more. Few as a part of the field trips will the others to just enjoy the place - get along with the whole community and experience the country. Few of my bucket list didn't work out to be successful because of our tight schedule such as Haifa, scuba diving etc. I wish to go back soon and get that done as well ;). Another thing that I missed is to enjoy the nightlife of Tel Aviv - the party land. The night we choose to stay in Tel Aviv was the worst day anyone could have chosen because it was a public holiday :(. Even though a club was open late night, we were denied to enter :( - long story. (Long story short - age limit was of 24 :P). But still, we roamed around Tel Aviv the whole night until 3 AM. Ahh, the place we crashed for the night is called Roger hostels and it is just a great place to spend a night. We get to mingle with different people staying in your dorm and learn from the experience. Of all the places where we went to the Ashdod and Jerusalem was the best of all. It was just beautiful and lovely. You will never realise how fast time went away. The beaches are just beautiful, alluring, pleasing and what not. The turquoise water and the vibrant people around the place are just put me in an aww <3. The memories weived out there is incredibly a lot - writing down each line brings other memory into my head.
Ever heard of falafel and Hummus? That is the best and the authentic food that is served at Israel. It was good at first. But eating it continuously for weeks started to put an hatred in me for this. Almost all the time, my mouth craved for Indian food. It was probably the daily meal. Either falafel, schnitzel or the halo(aalo :P) paratha from the Indian restaurant I found out near the university called little India. At the end of 1 month - I just got sick of it. I was craving to have some good proper Indian food that was scarcely available and even if we found a place to eat Indian food it's too costly for an Indian ;).
Well, other than the meal other things we're sorted B). Well, in the morning, either cornflakes or bread with coffee. Then, at night, either I would cook rice (which is the only thing that I knew to cook properly and the resource that actually helped). Maggie noodles, soups, biscuits added up to this by the way ;). And this was just perfect. For a month though ;). I really started to appreciate our mess food which seems totally impossible to think of when you stay at your hostel. In the end, when I got so desperate to have a different dish, I even started to experiment with different varieties of things using rice. That made all the difference :P
One of the best thing that happened during the entire stay at Israel together with the whole summer program team was the potluck! It was just awesome. We had to cook some food and all of us in the program would share it with each other. Just had an amazing time with all of the colleagues in the program sharing food, memories and on top of it all - love! <3
Reaching the end of this post, the heartbreaking event would be the return back to India. I literally didn't want to come back. I got accustomed to how Israeli's lived and enjoyed their livelihood or moreover, I didn't want to end my full of bursting surprising journey to end. I would miss the place - the entire country. The peeps out there. The whole OSP team. I never expected to create this whole of the best experience in my life ever with millions of memories made in just 1 month. When I landed in Israel, I saw a quote in the airport somewhere saying that 'Once you visit Israel, you stay an Israel forever!' well, me being an Indian right now, I'm a small Israeli at heart ;). Wrapping this post up - I wish to see Israel once again and hope to spend another fantastic summer there!
To an awesome life ahead!