Last semester I had a lot of explaining to do as to why I was MIA for a year.
When tallying up the year I graduated from high school and what year of college I was in, my lab partner announced, “But you’re in your first year of college! What did you do last year?”
I explained that I took a year off to go to Israel to study Hebrew studies. He was amazed. So were my other two lab partners. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. Another classmate wanted to know why I would delay my college education for a whole year, and this was coming from a girl doing the four year plan for an associates in liberal arts! She asked me if I could speak a whole different language, which I pretty much can. (My Hebrew’s not great, but I understand enough to be able to talk about my classmates in front of them).
A friend of mine took college classes the summer before going to Israel. a guy in her class asked her what she was doing the coming year and she told him she was going to study abroad. He turned to the guy behind him (who was frum) and said, “Dude, that chick is really smart, she’s going to study abroad!”
To which the frum fellow replied, “It’s called seminary, and they all do it!”