Second semester of my junior year I decided to study abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel. The two biggest reasons that actually drove me to  travel over 5,000 miles away from home for four months were that I wanted to feel closer to my Jewish roots and of course, the food.

Tel Aviv is known for not only the best Israeli food you can get, but just amazing food all around. So I want to share the one food experience in Tel Aviv I'll never forget.

The first week that I spent in Tel Aviv I wanted to make sure that I was giving myself a real and  authentic Israeli experience because I had never been to Israel before and I wanted to see what my new city had to offer. The second day I was there, after I was done setting up my new apartment, I decided to venture out into the city with my roommates.

Keep in mind that not only were we a little stressed as we had just moved to a new country but, we were beyond jet lagged so we decided to give up our beds for just a couple of hours was a big feat.

First, we decided to visit one of Tel Aviv's famous breakfast places, Benedict's. Here I enjoyed my first shakshouka in Israel and shared Kinder pancakes with my friends. Benedict's is still one of my favorite places to go to for breakfast and it is safe to say that I drag my friends there more than I should.

However, my breakfast that day is not what I want this article to focus on because something much better happened after we visited the beach and had some much needed coffee at Aroma. Think of Aroma as the much better Israeli equivalent to Starbucks.

Our next stop that day was Shuk HaCarmel or the Carmel Market. The Middle-East is known for these shuks or marketplaces as they seem to have anything and everything you could ever want and it is even easy to bargain!

I was honestly quite speechless and in awe when we approached the entrance to the shuk. It seemed as though there was action everywhere you turned.

I was surrounded by tables filled with jewelry, mountains of spices, barrels of candy, baked good piled on top of each other, and of course carts selling Israeli street food. The air was filled with so many different smells that it was hard to decide where to start my food journey. There was so much that I wanted to see and experience. 

There was just so much that I wanted to see and experience.  

I started walking through the shuk taking in all of my new surroundings. Everyone seemed to be shouting at me and wanting me to come look at and potentially buy some of their goods. I peered at a few tables of goods, not even sure if I should commit to something or if there would be something better later on.

As I was experiencing the shuk for the first time, one of my friends approached me and told me she was hungry. I was hungry too but just a bit distracted by my surroundings.

So, we decided to do what I suggest everyone do when they visit the shuk for the first time, try some Israeli street food. Street food can mean a variety of different things in Israel, but generally it is a pita filled with falafel, shawarma, or schnitzel and topped with hummus, tahini, salad, and sometimes french fries. I decided to get shawarma.

Standing in the middle of the shuk, holding my pita filled to the brim with chicken and various toppings was the happiest I had been since my study abroad experience started.

For the first time, I was not stressed or thinking about home. I was completely in the moment with the sounds of the shuk surrounding me.