Months ago I announced that I was going to Israel for a study abroad….since then there has been a question of if we would be able to go or not. So we quietly kept providing the documents requested from our professor and preparing as best we could for the amazing opportunity that it would be but with the ever present fear of having to cancel at the same time. We all had to provide a copy of our vaccination card showing that we have received the Covid vaccine to the state tourism department along with an application to enter the country. Israel started allowing American visitors back in May, but the procedures to do that seemed to change here and there. Wanting to make sure that we would have everything we needed, our professor stayed in constant contact with the state department there but waited for us to complete the application process to enter just in case another change was made.
Part of our pre-departure requirements was to read up on the history of Israel, to which we read ‘Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn’ by Daniel Gordis. I would absolutely recommend this book for any traveler to Israel. It is a fascinating look at history and culture and politics that have shaped and continue to shape the country (disclaimer if you read it…it is incredibly interesting but definitely not a happy read so be aware of your emotional sensibilities).
A few weeks ago we had our group orientation meeting with notes about what to pack and what to expect, we completed our applications to enter the country, but with the repeated warning of ‘but we might have to cancel’. Things were looking pretty dire about the likelihood of the trip happening. But today I got the word that the flights have been booked and we are going! We leave on Tuesday, only 5 days from now, and they just barely got our flights arranged this morning. Talk about some excellent last minute planning! From the sound of it we all will need to have a series of Covid tests done- one within 72 hours of leaving, one when we land in Tel Aviv, and one more before we can leave our hotel. Israel apparently is one of the world’s leading countries in dealing with Covid and with so many unknowns as the world starts to open up again it makes sense that there are added measures in place for travelers. And so I’m happy to report that in 5 short days I will be making my way to the Holy Land for my first venture to the Middle East!!!