Shoshanna Armstrong does college a little bit differently from most students her age. When she first started her college experience, Armstrong enrolled at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, California.
At 21-years-old, she decided to pack her bags and embark on a journey to Israel. Now, a year later, she is still in Israel and plans to enroll for the fall semester at the Shenkar School of Engineering in Ramat Gan.
Exploring and creating are the two most important things to Armstrong, which ultimately led her to move to Israel. She channeled her creative energy and became a community artist with a background in textiles.
Emilie Romero: What are some major differences you have noticed living in both the United States and Israel?
Shoshanna Armstrong: The people here are a lot different than in the United States. They spend a lot of their time with family and friends. It’s a very connected place to live because everyone is always outside on walks, the streets are busy and people constantly have smiles on their faces, despite what negative things may be happening around them. It’s very inspiring.
There is still an overwhelming sense of love that fills these people, even with the battles currently surrounding them. The fact that they still get together to celebrate the holidays and continue to live happily despite the hard conditions and times they’re going through is something that a lot of people should recognize and practice in their own lives.
ER: What is the school system in Israel like, and what inspired you to move to Israel to continue your college career?
SA: The educational system here is a bit different as well in comparison to the U.S. It’s a lot more advanced, and they have classes 6 days a week. There’s also a surprising amount of transfer students from the U.S. and other places around the world.
I decided to move because I wanted to see the world in a different perspective. I was born and raised in America, so I really wanted to have a unique experience for my college years. As an artist, I think it’s important for me to grow and see the world in order to continue inspiring myself.
That’s why I made the decision to take a gap year and work on the project I’m currently involved in, but I’ll be returning to school this coming fall semester. However, I will be attending the Shenkar School of Engineering here in Israel.
ER: What has living in Israel taught you about the world?
SA: Moving to Israel has inspired me so much because everyone is constantly together here. I’m involved in a community project crocheting rugs and baskets with asylum-seeking refugees from Subsaharan Africa. It’s been a very rewarding experience that has helped to open my eyes to the world and to work with very inspiring people.
There’s a great amount of hope that lies within Israel as a country, especially due to their circumstances being under war. To be my age and to have the opportunity to be a community artist who works with asylum-seeking refugees has really motivated me to continue pursuing art and to help those around me.
ER: What is living in Israel like?
SA: Living in Israel can get expensive, and because I’m here supporting my self financially, I have had to get a job. I have gotten into gastronomy, which is the study of food, preparing raw vegan, organic cuisine and elixirs.
Israel has given me the opportunity to focus on more worldly matters away from any social media distractions. I feel like a true renaissance woman here.
ER: How would you describe yourself as an artist, and what are some of your future plans?
SA: I don’t think I can identify myself as one thing. I see myself as an artist, a gardener, a cook, a designer [and] a healer.
At 22, my future plans are so far and few between, to be honest. I value the importance of a degree, and so I’ll be continuing my education, working toward a textile degree at the Shenkar School of Engineering. I think having that degree will provide me with more opportunities to continue my art while helping with the needs of the community.
I love to be with the community, listening, feeling, seeing — I want to create, to wonder for a brief or extended moment, and that’s why the decision to move to Israel was so important to me. It was scary at first, being young and entering a whole new country with a totally different culture, but if anything, I am so grateful for the experiences and the memories I am making.