As you may know, we have or have had, as in the past, our spring break. For Brandeis is a weird timing, we have a spring break in February and then another one in April.

Like I told you the last time, I was planning on going to Israel and I am back safe and content about a life-changing experience. The trip to the far away land helped me figure out some stuff I needed to figure out. Among such “stuff” I decided that I was being completely childish on the issue to transfer. I cannot transfer, despite Brandeis having its few problems, you will find flaws at any school you attend to, even Ivy Leagues for that matter. I think the importance is to look at the bright side, and that is what I decided to do. For me, Brandeis has challenged me academically and emotionally. I have grown in so many ways, I have made valuable connections, I have changed the way I view the world, and I have precious memories that I cannot let go so easily.

The trip was a volunteer trip at an army base (Israel Defense Forces) through Sar-El. The first weekend, we were in Jerusalem and the second weekend we were in Tel Aviv. I got to learn more about Judaism and the history of how the State of Israel came to be, which it has not even been about 100 years since it occurred. Nevertheless, the country has progressed incredibly, it takes your breath away. I feel I left having done a good job, while also, having had space and time to see the actual Israel and make new friends. We drove through Haifa as well and went very far into the North, near the border between Israel and Lebanon for our volunteer service. But we also go to dine in different places, got to visit the Temple Mount, the beach, a museum, shop, etc.

The trip changed my perspective and it inspired me to want to travel even more, see the world like many people dream of doing. One of the decisions for staying at Brandeis is because I’ll get the opportunity to go abroad next year, which I am currently going through the whole process of applying. So if everything goes well, next year I will fly to Barcelona, Spain. Although, it is not the only reason, it is the people, mainly, the support I have found here, I do not think I could have found it anywhere else. If I try to transfer, I would be looking for something that I did not need to, like a bald guy without any hair looking to purchase a brush.

In addition, after coming from Israel, it was very difficult for me to overcome the jet lag. I would go to bed early at night and wake up also very early in the morning. I have almost been unable to stabilize it, but I am almost there. There was also a ton of work to do and so it has been two difficult and hectic weeks because of midterms and because I am also sick as hell. This marks the third time I get a cold during this spring semester, which means that if you do not get enough sleep, most likely you will end up like me.

Furthermore, I am also paranoid about internships. It is a stressful time I cannot lie, but hopefully all this work will pay off. I have been sending tons of cover letters and résumés everywhere in hope of an answer, kind of fruitless at the moment, yet I know I cannot surrender. There will be a place for me somewhere I know. I am glad I was able to go through immigration and customs without any problem, it signifies that it was meant for me to return, for me to continue doing what I am doing and finish it.

This week I am escaping school to see my parents and give them the presents I brought them from Israel—also if you ever go there, it’s beautiful, but preposterous expensive. Be ready to spend some good money. Nine shekels for a shot of espresso, 140 shekels for a notebook, 700 shekels for two bracelets (not even gold)… However, if you have the chance to travel during your college years, I want to encourage you to do it. Seeing the world and investing in experiences is the best way to spend your money. You do not need to buy anything materialistic, just go on a trip, see the world, and it is ten times worth your money, after all, we only live once.

And remember, you will go through phases, like I did, in which I wanted to transfer. In my case, it was not the school itself, but me. I was the problem. What changed my mind was going on this trip, meeting new people, and being able to realize how much I have gained from the institution I attend to. Transfer is an option, but it will not be the option for everyone. Make sure to be secure of such decision because you will only realize of what you left behind once you’re gone. I got to measure this before it was too late. Weight your pros and cons. I did that and I decided to stay at the place where the creators of Friends went to college.

Best luck,

Santiago Montoya