Admittedly, the seminary experience is often coined, "the bubble." And for good reason, too.
The average Anglo seminary girl barely gets a chance to experience Israel as more than a home-base for her "awesome" year with Anglo peers, teachers, and relatives. It generally takes an extraordinarily ambitious girl to make the year one filled with genuine Israeli experiences and interactions.
This year at MMY, we were privileged to have those interactions built into our program! In Tochnit Shiluv - Bet Midrash, a program run by our very own Morah Ora Derovan, self-selected MMY girls were paired up with Israeli bnot sherut from all over Israel. Every Sunday night, each chavruta/chabura would learn the night's topic in the bet midrash, carrying intriguing debates and comments back to Morah Ora's corresponding shiur. All conversations took place in Hebrew, of course. We all found that our Hebrew improved immensely as a result, though needless to say, this also yielded some funny language barrier moments. (Perhaps the program's funniest moment was our discovery - very late in the year - that most of the bnot sherut are in fact fluent English speakers. )
But the program's advantages were not limited to language and learning. Most participants walked out proud of the new bonds they had made with girls from totally different worlds. The intellectual, bet midrash chemistry was naturally there, but, as became evident on the amazing Shabbaton we had in Mitzpeh Netofa, the capacity for deeper, "real life" friendships was there too. Over the course of the program, The chavrutot became close friends, and the group dynamic was one of comfort and fun. Suddenly, the Israel-Anglo gap didn't seem so large anymore.
Needless to say, Tochnit Shiluv - Bet Midrash was a highlight of my MMY year.