- Listing Type: Gap Year Programs
- Destinations: Israel
- Program Delivery: Residential
- Credit Awarded: College
- Program Length: Academic Year, Semester
- Start Month: January, September
- Category: Jewish
- Selective: Yes
- Gender: Coed
- Ages: 18, 19+, 19
- Housing: Student Apartment
- Application Fee: $100
- Financial Aid: Grants/Scholarships, Payment Terms
- Minimum Cost: $10,000 - $20,000
Aardvark Israel was founded as a vehicle to maximize the number of young Jews coming to Israel for meaningful, life-changing experiences that strengthen their Jewish identity, commitment to Israel, and foster personal growth.
The Aardvark Israel Program offers Jewish students from around the world the opportunity to “MAKE ISRAEL YOURS,” by providing a tailor-made program so participants can build a customised experience in Israel. The beauty of Aardvark, and what sets it apart from other programs is the opportunity to Intern. Participants choose from a long list of unique internship opportunities at impressive companies and organizations. Participants also get to explore the hidden gems of Israel through weekly trips and excursions, earn a full year of university credit whilst studying fascinating topics including Hebrew, and enjoy independent living in furnished apartments in the centre of Tel Aviv and/or Jerusalem. The experienced staff and high ratio of staff to students allow Aardvark to cater to the different interests of its student population, who come from a wide range of countries and backgrounds.
Special Interest Add-Ons:
· The International Program – educational and tourist trips to Ethiopia, Italy, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic & China and Poland (to learn about the Holocaust)
· Nepal Cultural Exchange Program - volunteer program in Nepal
Big Idea Gap Year - Hi-Tech track - coding course and start ups
Year of Service - pure volunteer program
Marva – simulated army basic training
· Magen David Adom - volunteering with the Israeli Ambulance service
· Sea Sports
· Aardvark Extreme - exciting activities such as paragliding, horseback riding, tractoronim (ATVs), or mountain biking, just to name a few
· Selah - the Jewish Identity track for people looking to put an extra emphasis on Jewish Learning whilst in our program
I came on my Gap Year expecting to have travelled to five different countries by the end of the year, not to be stuck inside one, limited to a 100 metre radius around an apartment in Tel Aviv and taking online classes, but BOY, am I glad I did. From day one, the staff welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles. They were always there when we were homesick and knew when to check up on us even without being asked. They were there to give us that extra push and encourage us to go out and do things on our own and there to congratulate us on our personal achievements, however small or big they may be. I really appreciate that the Aardvark staff treated us like adults and gave us the space we needed to be able to learn what it means to become an adult and all of the responsibilities attached to our new title.
I am so fortunate to have been surrounded by young people from all corners of the earth. Who knew I would know people from over ten different countries by the end of the year? We tackled this year together. The highs, the lows, the lockdowns and brief periods of 'emancipation' connected us, by the end we were like one big family. We survived QUARANTINE IN FLORENTINE! However, that is not all. The incredible tiyulim (bus and hiking day trips) opened my eyes to how diverse, multifaceted and, as our tour guide, Daniel, told us; 'crazy' this country really is. Moreover, the volunteering and internship aspect of Aardvark showed us what a job in the real world is like. Through finding a volunteering position at the Israeli Guide Dog Association, I gained invaluable experience in the animal industry (which is the field I want to go into) and was able to give back to the Israeli community.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted the way my Gap Year panned out, however being on Aardvark enabled me to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way and grow within myself more than I could ever have imagined. I have learnt to stand up for what I believe in, to roll with the punches and adapt to change when plans didn't always go the way I was expecting. I have learnt to make the best out of each new challenge - there is always something you can do when you seem to be doing nothing. Aardvark gave me the tools and resources I needed to grow and develop, to become an independent person and understand how I define and want to live my adult life. These priceless lessons, learning curves and new qualities will stick with me forever into the future and I will always have Aardvark to thank for helping me on my journey. As I move on to the next phase of my life I know this year in Israel will always have a special place in my heart.