Jul 28, 2020  By Zoe Harrison  Category: Education,

COVID cuts short semester in Israel, but the memories will still last a lifetime

My experience with Alexander Muss High School in Israel was truly life changing. It all began one day at school in Vail when Anna Pope casually told me she would be leaving for the second semester and going to Israel. At first I thought she was crazy, but with some consideration I decided to go to the AMHSI website and complete an application and discuss it with my parents and the rabbi. We decided I would go.

Within the first couple of hours of traveling, arriving, and meeting my roommates, I had made some incredible friends. By only the second day, I had met some of the most amazing people ever. From there, my bonds with the people and Israel only grew stronger.thumbnail_8CC11891-57DF-40B5-AB0B-A40959694A53

I adapted to the dorm lifestyle pretty quickly and in about a week had grown to love it. I made memories that will last a lifetime, and I couldn’t wait to spend the next four months of my life in Israel.

Having this mentality made it that much worse when we were told we would be going home on the next possible flight due to the coronavirus outbreak only seven weeks into the trip. I was absolutely devastated and those next couple of days were a mess of tears, sadness, and goodbyes. When I arrived home it almost felt like the whole trip was just a dream, but I tightly held on to every memory I had.

When online school started up, I finally got to see the faces of all of my best friends again. The transition to virtual learning was very difficult after having been in Israel for seven weeks and I still wasn’t really settled at home. Although the change to online school took some getting used to, AMHSI made virtual learning a very beneficial experience. I was amazed at how they managed to make everything work so smoothly. Since we were back home all in different time zones, some of our teachers had to teach their classes at 1 a.m.

More on coronavirus and JNF
Touring Israel in depth north to south, from my couch
Virtual Shabbats during lockdown turn strangers into family

Even though I was sad I couldn’t physically be with everyone, it was a great way to make the best of the situation and I still learned quite a lot from online classes. Once this pandemic is over I will be hopping on the next plane to visit all of the people in the US who have changed my life for the better. I can’t even imagine how happy I would’ve been to get to spend another 11 weeks at AMHSI. I will always look back on this adventure in my life and I can’t wait to go back to Israel as soon as I possibly can.

Zoe Harrison is from Vail, Colo., and is a former student of Alexander Muss High School in Israel.