Ask me where I've been: Israel
|Hobbies||playing violin and reading|
|Program/Study Site||University of Haifa: Haifa, Israel|
Why did you choose Israel?I always wanted to live in Israel for a long period of time and become immersed in Israeli culture. Junior year was a perfect opportunity to live in Israel while studying Jewish and Israeli history, which is my area of focus.
What courses did you enroll in while abroad?I took two month-long intensive Hebrew classes before the beginning of each semester. Before my first semester began, I participated on a study tour, which was an intensive month-long history class of Israel. The time was split between lectures and trips around Israel to visit the sites that we learned about. During the semesters, I continued studying Hebrew and took courses about Israeli history, politics and culture.
What was your living situation?I lived in an apartment-style dorm with 5 Israeli roommates. We each had our own room and bathroom and we shared a kitchen. I am really glad that I got the opportunity to live with Israelis. They helped me practice my Hebrew and I have become good friends with some of them.
What did you do for fun?The Social Activities Coordinators program is excellent and often organizes events, such as karaoke night or Israeli cooking night, for the international school students to participate in. Haifa has a beautiful beach and hosts many cultural activities such as a film festival, concerts, and public celebrations for holidays. On the weekends, I often traveled to other places in Israel to visit my family or other people that have welcomed me into their homes. Israelis are very hospitable, and I have been welcomed into people's homes even if they did not know me beforehand.
The most challenging aspects of your experience:
When I first came to Israel, I did not know much Hebrew. I remember being very overwhelmed that I could not understand what was going on around me. Thanks to the language courses, my Hebrew has been improving and that is less a problem (although of course I am still learning!). Adjusting to Israeli culture was harder than I thought. Though I am Jewish, there are many differences between growing up in America and Israel, so I did not feel an immediate connection to Israelis that I was expecting. However, the more time I spend in Israel, the more I feel connected to Israel and Israelis.
Final comments or suggestions for future participants:
This has been the hardest and most amazing year at the same time. I have learned so much about the history of Israel and contemporary Israel. Additionally, I have learned a lot about myself and my love for Israel. I strongly recommend this program for anyone who wants to have an extremely rewarding experience in Israel.
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