Miriam Damti - My international exchange student experience in Canada

I’m Miriam, a 23-year-old driven and passionate individual graduating with my master’s degree in Jewish Education. I am taking part in the International Masters Degree – blended program at the Melton Centre, Hebrew University.

I’ve been granted the opportunity to take part in the international student exchange program in Canada as part of my degree. I’ve discovered that I’m the first student in this particular degree to embark upon this journey of the international exchange student program, and I’m delighted to share my experience with all of you.

Choosing to study abroad was one of the biggest decisions of my life, and I’m beyond grateful and appreciative that I could do so. To this day, I’m incredibly thankful for taking this opportunity and embracing it to the fullest in a plethora of fields, both in terms of my studies and even further in the scope of life.

What may have seemed to be a dream became a real-life reality. I remember getting to the airport excited to discover what the future holds. I came to this experience with a spontaneous approach and eager to learn, not knowing that this exchange semester would soon be part of my identity. I was beyond words when I first entered York University in Canada and took my first classes.

This outstanding experience has led me to meet incredible people from all over the world, travel, and being able to reach out to the Jewish communities in Toronto and beyond, who soon became my closest friends.

Miriam Danti and friends in Toronto

Living in a different country, learning its core values, norms, and ultimately its current culture, has taught me so much about myself as an individual, gaining that independence and aiming for the top. Furthermore, it has shaped my identity, especially my Jewish identity and Jewish sense of being. Thus, I find this experience to have had an invaluable contribution to my self-development.

I’ve gained a plethora of knowledge in the field of education, and Jewish education in particular, both from the classes I took and even more so from the encounters I had with others during this incredible period, especially from the amazing Jewish community from whom I learned so much.

This journey has evoked in me the will to seek other international opportunities, embracing the present and seizing the day but simultaneously aiming for the future. So, ask yourself, am I willing to live by the vision of the future and not by the memories of the past? If the answer is yes, you are willing to take the risk. With no doubt in my mind, I say go for it! Go for what you aspire to be and what you wish to become; in any given situation, if you are willing to take the chance, you can get an experience you wouldn’t otherwise. Regardless of obstacles you may face, whether it’s a feeling or a technical challenge, you must remain in your best possible state and get to an understanding that you are experiencing and earning something new, whether it’s a skill or a friend, you can get out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to obtain self-development.

Gaining friends worldwide has broadened my view of how generous and kind people can be. One of my greatest memories was the amazing Chabad community from Toronto and the United States that hosted me and my friends with great generosity and kindness in ways that I’ve yet to experience, accepting all people regardless of their level of observance.

Frankly speaking, I tend to keep kosher and other traditions of Judaism. With that, I have many friends from all streams, and that is the beauty of an experience like this: You have many chances to meet all the people with whom you can interact.

You may wonder if it was challenging regarding observance; well, I found it relatively easy in countries where Jewish communities are present in a vast manner. Most places had kosher food, and the holiday experiences were one of the best. For example, in Sukkoth, we were invited for a traditional Sukkah Hop where you go from sukkah to sukkah with the entire community, and in each one, you have different types of food; the Jewish communities generously gave this whole event; I was beyond words and extremely happy to be part of it.

This whole journey was incredible. Even when I came back home, I had an emotional experience. I hugged my mom the hug of a lifetime, and I visited my family and friends. I felt so happy. Up until now, I’m so happy with my whole experience.

On that note, I would like to thank all who have been helpful in this journey, from the Hebrew University staff to the Jewish communities in Toronto. Thank you for helping me throughout my amazing and unforgettable journey.

To learn more about Hebrew University: MA in Jewish Education visit the website here.