100 Alumni We Love - Alyssa Schwartz

Reflections on my time at HU

By Alyssa Schwartz, Toronto

I went on the March of the Living when I was 15 and immersing myself more deeply in Israeli life during my education was something I immediately knew I had to do. I was ready to pack up and go during high school but my parents made me wait until university. I’m glad I did, as waiting until I was a little older gave me the freedom and independence to seek out more experiences than I would have had under the strict supervision of a high school program.

My year at Hebrew U (1996-1997) completely changed my career path and sent me in a direction I don’t know I ever would have found otherwise. The many organized weekend trips and excursions, from Shabbat in Tzfat to hiking all over the country, and proximity to travel destinations both in Israel and beyond for informal trips with my new friends whet my appetite for adventure.

It taught me to use travel as a tool for uncovering people’s stories and understanding the world around me. After my year at Hebrew U, I wasn’t ready to leave Jerusalem and ended up staying on for an extra semester, with internships at the Jerusalem Post and Government Press Office (facilitated through Hebrew U contacts). I’m now a travel writer for outlets such as The Globe and Mail and Food & Wine – a dream career I don’t think I ever would have pursued if not for my year at Hebrew U.