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Queens College student climbs to new heights in Israel

Studying abroad has become a rite of passage for many college students in recent years. Between discovering historical cities and tasting exotic cuisine, it can become an adventure of a lifetime.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Darrigo
Photo courtesy of Lisa Darrigo

QC student Lisa Darrigo is currently studying abroad in Israel for the entirety of the fall semester.

On Sept. 11 she hopped on a plane headed to Tel Aviv to begin a semester abroad. However, this would not be the first time. The junior environmental science major traveled to Israel for the first time in January on a Birthright trip.

“I don’t know why, but Israel rubbed me in all the right ways,” Darrigo said. “It became my mission to go back. I just didn’t think it’d happen so soon!”

Darrigo’s latest trip was part of the Ginsburg-Ingerman Oversees Program. Through the program, Darrigo and other students study at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel.

The international program allows her to take English-speaking classes on campus.

“The professors are awesome because they teach and share their own opinions a lot, so it’s cool to hear what they have to think about a lot of the politics over here and such,” Darrigo said.

Her studies also include a 3-hour, 4 days a week Hebrew class. This helps with the language barrier, which Darrigo said can be “quite a problem”. While native students seem friendly, she said she doesn’t always know what they are saying.

“Hebrew is so hard and communicating with people who work in public places can be quite the adventure,” Darrigo said.

However, her favorite part of the program so far is the multitude of people she gets to meet. Students come from Germany, Jamaica, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Italy, Romania, Czech Republic and Denmark, Darrigo said.

“I’ve been learning a lot of different languages… and not the good parts of them,” she said, referring to the naughtier words she’s come across in her travels.

Adjusting to Israeli culture was a challenge for Darrigo at first. One of the biggest culture shocks came from shopping in an Israeli supermarket, Darrigo said.

“All the prepared food and brands I know from America just don’t exist, or they’re double the price,” Darrigo said. “Food in general here has been quite a shock for me. I was never the best cook, but now I’ve been making shakshuka and cooking with more spices. I can’t wait to come home and cook!”

Darrigo has also delegated time for more adventurous activities. She hiked the Negev desert last month for two days and two nights. It was the coolest and craziest thing she’s done so far, Darrigo said.

“I walked 40 kilometers, 22 miles, with 50 pounds on my back. I slept under the stars in the middle of nowhere. It was an experience I will absolutely never forget. The pain, the elation, the laughs, the sights, the thoughts, the feelings… [it was] quite the plethora of emotions,” said Darrigo.

Like her fellow QC students, Darrigo recently finished her midterms, which proved to be just as stressful overseas.

Despite the semester coming to an end, she doesn’t want to focus on her return home just yet. There are still many adventures to be had.

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