I may have found a quality, and affordable, alternative Israel program, in the event that I do not get accepted to the Fellowship program. By 'alternative' I mean 'acceptable option', as opposed to 'outside of traditional or established institutions'. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The only problem I can find with this alternative program (aside from not being a Dorot fellowship) is that I'd be living in Arad for three months.
I was in Arad, albeit briefly, during my birthright trip. We spent one night in Arad, but only so that we were near enough to Masada to do the sunrise climb. My impression of Arad has been negatively impacted by two circumstances:
1) Those fiends made me wake up at 4:30am.
2) Two girls in my group left the hotel late at night, and made friends with some shady guys on the street. They then brought their new friends back to their hotel room. Here's where the stories began to diverge. In version A, the girls decided it was time for the Shady Dudes to leave. In version B, a nice guy in our group decided it was inappropriate for the Shady Dudes to be there. Either way, the Shady Dudes refused to go away. When Nice Guy tried to make them leave, one of the Shady Dudes pulled out a knife and stabbed him. Nice Guy was rushed to the hospital with a punctured lung, and was never seen by Bus #2 ever again.
So does anyone have any positive stories about Arad? Some kind of testimonial that people there don't wake up obscenely early and get stabbed on a routine basis?