what the f*** am i doing this summer by Ankita D. '23
still don't know if i'm going abroad or not lol
job-wise, this has been an absolute rollercoaster of a year so far. I’m EXHAUSTED.
I was supposed to do a program where MIT students travel to Israel every year to teach coding and entrepreneurship to Palestinian and Israeli students and MISTI Israel last summer. it obviously didn’t happen because of COVID, but since I’d been looking forward to doing these programs since high school, i set my hopes on doing it in 2021. my acceptance transferred over a year, which made for an excellent contingency plan.
in my sophomore fall semester, I haphazardly applied to dozens of companies. I got numerous rejections…roles for students in my major don’t typically go to sophomores. at a certain point, I gave up and committed to finding an internship with an Israeli startup through MISTI—it seemed like a great option since I 1. wanted experience at a startup and 2. think Israel’s start up scene is sick.
around February, I interviewed for a microscopy company and was offered an internship. the more I learned about the company and role, the less excited I was about it, but I was so tired of not knowing what my plans are that I stuck with it.
in April, I got an email from the MISTI coordinator about the feasibility of traveling to Israel. it said that we should expect to start our internships remotely and possibly travel to the region on June 15th. since Israel’s CDC COVID Risk Level was at 4 (very high) and the State Department travel warning was at level 3, the prospect of travel looked pretty bad. however, the email also said that there was a high likelihood that both levels fall to 2 by May 15th, so we might be able to travel in June.
the coordinator said we would hear back about the travel situation by May 15th, and would then know whether we do our internships remotely or travel to the region and do them in person.
I was fully vaccinated prior to receiving this email, so I was hopeful about travel. i knew Israel’s vaccinations were proceeding quickly, so I figured that things would calm down by mid-May.
at the end of April, I had my training weekend for MEET. I was excited to meet all the other instructors and begin the planning process for the summer. the program seemed dope, and the more I heard about it, the more anticipation I had for the summer. the dates for the program were June 27 to July 16, with an additional training week. also, the first week was slated to be virtual. I’d leave the States on June 15th, do the training week in-person, and possibly be able to travel a bit during the virtual week, which I was SUPER hyped for.
in the first week of May, the company I had an internship with informed me via a very brief email that they were…no longer taking me on as an intern?? I was confused and panicked—I was so certain that my plans were finalized!! I got in touch with the MISTI coordinator and she set me up with another company within a day or two. the interview went great and I was offered a job. it happened to be an infinitely more interesting company and an infinitely more relevant role, so I was ecstatic. fate??
also in early May, the Israel-Palestine conflict escalated. we got an email on May 12th saying that if the tension subsided in the near future, we could still potentially travel to the region. no one could predict how long the situation would last, though. thus, the initial deadline of May 15th had to be pushed back to June 9th.
at this point, I lost all hope of travel, and just wanted a peaceful resolution as soon as possible. the ceasefire came in the third week of May, which spurred MISTI coordinators to reach out on May 26th asking us to bring our passport, passport photos, our visa application forms, and a copy of our vaccination cards to MIT campus the next day. I had to print all the documents, rush to CVS for passport photos, and figure out how to get my passport, which was in New Hampshire, to the coordinator’s house in Watertown. I was lucky since I was in the area and could bring all the materials in easily, but other participants who lived across the country had to rush ship their materials to the coordinators within three days. mailing my passport sounded scary, so I wasn’t envious of them…
on June 2nd, I had my first some hours of Hebrew are mandatory for traveling to the region I love learning languages, so it was cool to participate, but it seemed strange given that I wasn’t sure if I was going to Israel or not.
a few days later, we got an email asking us to attend a MISTI Israel training session, schedule a serology and PCR test (within 72 hours of June 15th, the date we’d be flying out), complete some health/safety quizzes, and ensure that our cell phones are so we can use an Israeli sim card I rushed to do all of these things, which was kind of tedious.
finally, June 9th arrived!! I waited all day for the travel decision, but found out at 10 pm that it would be pushed to the next day. on the 10th, I learned that MEET instructors wouldn’t be able to depart on the 15th, but we might be able to eventually…! the coordinators said the State Department warning is still at level 3, but that they’re hopeful that we will still be able to participate in MEET.
great. more uncertainty!
so…that’s the journey thus far. I’m confused about how I’ll be able to participate in MEET if I’m seven hours behind Israel, or if the level will change before July 18th, which is when the program ends, or if I’ll be able to go to Tel Aviv for my internship. I’m vibing with my work right now and am definitely okay with being in Boston for the summer, but it’s kind of hilarious that I don’t know what I’m doing yet and can’t do anything about it.
fingers crossed for plans being finalized…!!!
- a program where MIT students travel to Israel every year to teach coding and entrepreneurship to Palestinian and Israeli students back to text ↑
- some hours of Hebrew are mandatory for traveling to the region back to text ↑
- so we can use an Israeli sim card back to text ↑