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Is Studying Abroad Right For You?

Have you ever wondered if studying abroad is right for you or a relative? 

Foreign learning comes with a whole host of benefits. From the different climates that other countries offer, to practical new life skills such as improving your Hebrew, or getting better at cooking traditional food, there are plenty of reasons to do it. Studying abroad does, however, come with some important challenges and questions, and it’s vital that you address these before you make the big move.

Consider what you want to learn

Different countries/regions offer different areas of focus when it comes to what subjects they prioritize, so it’s wise to do your research first to make sure that you find the right school. In some East Asian countries, for example, a strong emphasis is placed on subjects like science and engineering. If a humanities degrees is your desired area of specialty, it could be challenging to find the right fit there.

The structure of universities can also differ around the world. Here in the US, it’s very common for colleges to be campus-based, whereas some European universities prefer to integrate their universities into the city or town in which they’re located.

Check entry and visa requirements

Moving to a new country, even as a student, can pose a huge range of administrative headaches. Many students who move overseas need a special visa that can take months to secure. Some countries also have additional requirements above and beyond visas and passports.

Many Jewish students want to study in Israel and will need to undergo an entrance test. The psychometric course at HighQ is a great way to study for this. Whatever the requirements are in your country of study, it’s important to make sure that you do your research and know about them so that you can prepare in advance.

Think about coping mechanisms

Even if you’re really excited to get started with your year or degree abroad, it’s likely that there will still be some unexpected moments of struggle. You may be affected by culture shock, which is the mind’s way of reacting to a sudden change.

Feeling a little homesick during important family-oriented periods such as Hanukkah or High Holidays is a given. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have some strategies lined up. Arranging a weekly call back home on Friday afternoons to family and friends is an easy way to overcome the distance. If possible, organize a family vacation to your new study country before the move, so they will understand how and where you’re living abroad.

No matter where you’re heading for your studies, it’s likely that you’ll deal with these issues at some point. While it may seem like a lot to anticipate, it’s nothing that a little research won’t solve. By looking up the relevant requirements and deadlines well in advance, you’ll be able to make sure that your study abroad trip goes smoothly.

Fake Service Animals Causing Extreme Chaos

Are emotional service animals a legitimate need or a rapidly-growing scam? Like anything else, the answer depends on whom you ask. I am a huge pet lover, with dogs, cats, fish, and a hermit crab sharing my home. I don’t bring them to most public places, however, because I don’t want to annoy others and I also see no point. Movie theatres, restaurants, and shopping malls are not designed to accept animals. When it comes to travel, the situation can become downright circus-like.

There have been numerous odd instances where someone tried to board a plane with a peacock, or a pig, or a turkey, etc. Call me crazy, but the thought of flying cross-country next to an ear-piercing gobbler that isn’t bathroom-trained is my idea of hell!

According to new rules issued by American Airlines, most people agree with me. If your animal is an insect, ferret, hedgehog, goat, spider or chicken, they will no longer allow them as a traveling companion. Strangely, miniature horses are still welcome.

To me, there is a huge difference between a service animal and a support animal. The former would be a seeing-eye dog to help the blind, whereas the latter could be a boa constrictor that soothes an anxiety disorder. It’s just not the same. 

Every reasonable effort should be made to assist the disabled—wheelchair ramps, braille, or motor scooters in grocery stores are all good examples. But when it comes to emotional issues, it’s very hard to prove that bringing your llama to Walmart will actually improve your symptoms. 

Anyone who has a serious emotional problem deserves to be recognized and if their needs don’t infringe on the group as a whole, of course we should do it. The question is where to draw the line. I have the utmost sympathy and compassion for anyone with PTSD, major depression, or panic attacks. But please don’t ruin my dinner out or my trip with barking, urinating, and/or aggressive animals that don’t want to be there anyway. 

There is a time and a place for everything. Let’s use our common sense to determine what that rightfully would be. A baby Chihuahua tucked into a bag isn’t going to bother anyone; an enormous, screeching zoo creature surely will. 

Feeling So Blessed

What an amazing celebration it’s been. Not only is it Mother’s Day, it’s also Jerusalem Day—two events that mean the world to me.

I’ve been spoiled non stop since I woke up—pancake breakfast in bed, homemade cards, purple tulips. After that, we enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner consisting of steak, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. Dessert was a giant chocolate chip cookie. 

And my big surprise? It’s a gift certificate, good for 6 sessions, at a local pottery painting studio! (How cool is that?) When I was in my teens and 20’s, I did a lot of artwork. As I’ve gotten older, it’s dwindled, but that hobby filled me with joy and it’s something I want to take up again. 

In addition to my own personal blessings, the greatest joy for me is to see Israel and America, standing strong together, with the Embassy about to open. This has been longed for by Jews around the world, a wish, hope, and prayer that has been delayed so often, it seemed like it would never happen. But the Good Lord, in His time, has finally made the dream into a reality, showing once again that anything is possible with enough faith and fight.

This Embassy is the most important thing. Why? Because it guarantees that the Capital is much less likely to be divided, nor will Israel be chopped into Two States. 

Israel and America mean freedom—for men, women, and children who love the Lord, love liberty, and want to preserve both. I pray that these great nations with always be best friends and 500 years from now, these celebrations will continue. 

Burnt Cookies, Exploding Coffee Maker & an Overflowing Sink

You know those moments when everything seems to go wrong simultaneously? Yep, me too! 😉

It started with a craving. I had the ingredients on hand and some free time, so I decided to make cookies. No big deal there; I’ve done it a million times. Into the oven they went, and that’s when it became interesting.

The phone rang. Then the door bell rang. Then the cat threw up. As I went from task to task, I started to smell burning. Either I didn’t set a timer or I didn’t hear it because of the commotion, but the cookies were definitely overbaked. Oh, and I scorched my hand through a pot holder grabbing them.

I prefer chewy over crispy, but a crunchy treat is ok for me if it’s dunked into coffee. Still frazzled, I didn’t shut it completely and before I knew it, the machine is hissing and steaming and the lid pops up, spewing hot grounds down its sides and onto the counter. 

By the time that’s cleaned, I had a mountain of dishes waiting. I turned on the sink, letting the hot water pressure soften some baked-on gunk, and then more distractions led to further disaster. I literally walked out of the kitchen for 5 minutes to put some laundry away and returned to find water dripping down and soaking the floor. (Lest you think I’m a total half-wit, the drain plug was not in and a plate was covering it unintentionally.)

Evidently, I am highly distractible, can’t multi-task, or just really unlucky. (Mix of everything, perhaps?) Guess it was just one of those days…