The following interview of Elana Blinder was conducted by Elan Karoll.

Elan: What were your expectations going into the trip?

Elana: I was really excited to grow as person and to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After high school I didn’t have a direction. The plan was that taking a year off to be in Israel would help me figure out who I was and what I want to do with my life.

Did it help you figure out your life?

Yes. When I was studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem I took my first psychology class and I fell in love with the subject. My second semester I taught English to high schools students with special needs in Kfar Hasidim, a underprivileged youth village outside of Haifa. This inspired me to want to work with people who suffer form mental illness. Also, living in Israel for a year made me want to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

What was your day-to-day like living in Israel?

My weekdays started by catching the 19 Aleph bus to Hebrew U on Mount Scopus. The campus was beautiful – it overlooks the Mount of Olives. The classes I took were Hebrew, the Israel-Arab Conflict, Evolutional Psychology, a class on Hassidim and Mysticism. In the afternoon I would go on a run in the hills of Jerusalem then go to the shuk (market) for dinner. I ate as many dates as I could, and hung out with friends! On the weekends we went to Tel Aviv to go out and explore the night life. On Sunday we returned to Jerusalem on the 408 bus.

Which Israeli city is your favorite?

Jerusalem. Jerusalem is too real to be true. You walk down stones that have been there for thousands of years. You smell the aroma of the shuk (market), you hear the laughter of children playing and the Muslim call to worship, and you feel the rush of Jews hurrying to prayer services. Jerusalem is a beautiful city, surreal city.

Do you have a favorite Jerusalem restaurant?

Hasalatia is amazing, everyone needs to go there! It is a create-your-own-salad cafe filled with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, chick peas, beets and much more fresh vegetables just off of Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem.

Do you recommend studying abroad in Israel to other students?

Yes! Studying in Israel is life-changing, bubble-bursting experience! Studying abroad allows you to experience a culture outside of American society. You become more globally-minded and more educated about the world. It gives you a new mindset when you return to America and come to campus.

Read more study abroad stories here!