By Tova Kamioner, current Shana BaAretz student
Very few things are worth waking up before 7:30 in the morning. Thankfully the Tiyul Shnati, Nishmat's yearly trip with the whole Midrasha, proved itself fully worth my initial grogginess; the trip was comprised of tons of "only in Israel" moments. Early Thursday morning, we drove south and embarked on a hike, complete with amazing views of the vast desert, inter-program bonding, and mountain scaling.
After the hike, we drove to the youth village of Nitzana, ate dinner, then walked to a nearby cave with homemade lanterns and sang. That night, we slept in huge tents on mattresses provided by the youth village, which would have been more like a huge slumber party if we hadn't all crashed immediately.
And it's a good thing we did. The next morning, we woke up while it was still dark outside and set out to another hike in the desert. We started with a killer uphill and ended off with a refreshing swim in a spring. Afterwards, we returned to the youth village, settled into rooms, and prepared for shabbos.
Friday night was jam-packed with a meaningful davening, great food and zmirot, fascinating shiurim, and a multi-lingual Tu B'Shvat seder organized by the Israeli girls. Shabbos day was more relaxed, filled with more shiurim, davening, food, and a tour of the nearby city of Nitzana. We ended off shabbos with a beautiful havdalah, then loaded the buses to go back home.
Of all the great parts of this weekend, I mostly appreciated the opportunity to be together as the whole Midrasha. Despite various cultural and language differences, this weekend proved we're all bonded by our love for Torah, the land of Israel, and (as the silent ride back to school indicated) much-needed sleep.