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July 19, 2019

University as a Puzzle

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The primary question I am continually asking myself at school is, “which challenges do I wish to take on today?” Do I want to grind through applications for summer internships, re-plan my course list for the fifth time, or just create a roadmap for my last two years at university? 

At a competitive university, every minute of every day counts, and if you seem to fall behind in any aspect, such as grades, extracurriculars and clubs, summer internships, or even in mental health, you can be almost positive there will be someone more qualified to take your place - a scary thought. Incorporating everything is analogous to a puzzle, where all of the pieces must fit.  

I was struck with a dilemma. I’ve wanted to travel abroad; I’ve dreamt of spending a semester in Europe, where traveling and exploring the world was the primary motive (classes are an afterthought.) The problem, however, was that the traditional abroad program takes up an entire semester, and with the technical classes I was planning to take at University, it simply wasn’t possible to take an entire semester off without having to graduate late, or make major changes to my roadmap. 

The iX program came to me through word of mouth - a recommendation from one of my peers. A six-week program that features a Data Science course, a relevant internship, and the opportunity to travel and have fun? I was skeptical. I had never heard of a program like this, but it seemed like the puzzle piece I was looking for, the one that completed my college experience. This was my chance to travel, without hindering the advancement of my academic or professional careers.

What I didn’t realize is that iXperience wasn’t just an opportunity to travel, it was a program that would push me leagues further than any of my past experience - all from spending six weeks in one the most technologically advanced cities. 

The intensity of the program presents itself in two forms. The course itself is difficult by means of studying advanced topics in an abbreviated time frame, and the internship presented me with a multitude of other challenges. I began to ask, how can I create value for myself, through both deliverables and solutions for the company I was assigned to? This high level of intensity was balanced through supportive forces from the iX staff. The teachers, TAs and and other staff members provided direction - not only in the classroom and workplace, but professionally, through resume workshops, networking events, and general professional development. 

So far, from the aspects I have mentioned before, iX has allowed me to stay ahead on grades and coursework, participate in extracurricular events, and work through a proper summer internship.

The final question, and arguably the most important, is that of mental health, and general enjoyment. I entered Tel Aviv extremely jet-lagged, nervous, and anxious as to what to expect in this foreign city. Through the support of my diverse group of classmates, professors, iX staff, and the wonderful hosts of the nightly pub-crawl, I flew back to the United States ready to seize college with a new level of confidence. And I enjoyed the entire experience. 

iXperience was the final puzzle piece - the piece titled ‘abroad’ that I thought I would never find.

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