Winter break in Tel Aviv

By Sami

This year I got to spend my week-long winter break in my grandparents’ vacant apartment in Tel Aviv. With very few expectations and very many Corona-related restrictions, four friends and I arrived in the apartment on Thursday night, and after resetting our screwed-up sleep cycles we decided to make the most of our vacation and explore the city. We scootered from one side of the city to the other along the picturesque beach at sundown, saw our first Christmas tree of the year in Jaffa, joined our Tel Avivian friends from the program to explore the famous Rothschild Boulevard and Neve Tzedek artist neighborhood, and swam in the freezing Mediterranean Sea. With a little over two days left in our vacation, my friends were all packed up to return to Jerusalem, but I decided to stay behind for the rest of the break. My roommate exclaimed with a worried expression, “You’re going to be all alone for two days,” and I responded enthusiastically with a grin and excited eyes, “I’m going to be all alone for two days!”

These last few months in Jerusalem have been packed with so many memorable and fun experiences, but spending almost every hour of the day with friends who live with me got overwhelming at times. What I needed most of all during this short winter break was some quality time to myself. Although I wasn’t able to explore Tel Aviv fully during my two solo days because of the lockdown, I still had a bike and an apartment to myself. On the first night I watched just about every Disney Pixar Short ever made, ate lots of popcorn, and grilled a fish for the first time.  The next day I went for a long bike ride (we’re allowed to leave a one-kilometer radius only for exercise) along the beach and through Hayarkon park (like the Central Park of Tel Aviv). Spending time alone, without so many distractions, gave me the clarity of mind I needed to fully appreciate all of the amazing things that have happened to me this year. Additionally, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more adult than those few days where I was living alone, making all my meals, and doing whatever I felt like doing with no one else to tell me otherwise.