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Study Abroad

Liran Avisar Ben Horin">Liran Avisar Ben Horin

CEO (Jerusalem)
Weight: 
-100

Originally from Migdal HaEmek in the North of Israel, Liran Avisar Ben-Horin joined Masa Israel Journey as CEO in 2013, where she manages the joint project of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel that provides young adults immersive, life-changing internships, service-learning opportunities, and study abroad programs in Israel.
 

Prior to her appointment as CEO, Liran served as Chief of Staff of the Director General of Israel’s Prime Minister’s reforms. From 2004 until 2010, Liran worked in the Office, leading a number of governmental and civic Movement, and then as Director of the North American Aliyah Department for The Jewish Agency for Israel. She began her career as a legal assistant to former Israeli Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz. Liran completed her service in the Israel Defense Forces as a Company Commander for the women’s field units officers’ course, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. She holds a BA in Business Administration from Tel Aviv University, an LL.B with Honors from the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University and an LL.M from New York University. Liran is an almuna of the prestgious Maoz Fellows program for social change-makers.


Liran resides in Tel Aviv with her husband, Itay, and her daughter, Eshkol. In her spare time, Liran studies Judaism at Kolot, a pluralistic Beit Midrash.

 

masa@masaisrael.org

5 Reasons to Study and Intern Abroad">5 Reasons to Study and Intern Abroad

Posted January 10th, 2017

 

The experience you get when you live, learn and work in a foreign country gives your career and life endless opportunities. Here are five reasons to study and intern abroad next semester.

 

When you spend a semester both studying and interning you can apply the knowledge from class immediately to the work environment which, makes your newly attained skills come to life.  You'll understand it's okay to make mistakes and fail and that this semester abroad is the perfect opportunity to do so.

 

 

Unlike in your home country, where you understand the social and cultural norms, when you’re abroad, the context is changed, and your skill set naturally expands. From this point, you better know how to listen to others, understand how to adapt yourself to any situation and communicate across multiple cultural barriers. It's at this moment that you automatically challenge yourself and your senses become sharper than ever.

 

 

When you intern and study abroad you can have a transformative experience in your choice of career fields and get a taste of different jobs and work environments. It’s entirely okay to say you don’t like one path and then seamlessly switch to another,  before it’s too late. So, whether you want to go to med school or work for a tech startup, you’ll get a dose of the real thing here in Israel. 

 

 

Whether you’re in class or at your internship, you have the chance to develop your international network. Your coworkers, classmates, and professors serve as a new platform for connecting you with professional opportunities, resources and personal development in the present and the future.

 

 

Oh, the real world. Soon enough the four glorious years of college will have to come to an end, and there’s no way to better prepare yourself than by spending a semester in a beautiful country where you’ll live, work and study on your own. It is here where you get to experience real independence. You’ll finish the semester wishing you didn’t have to leave and go back to your dorm. Graduation never looked better.

 

Written By Ruti Alfandry, Masa Israel's Director of Academic Programs 


 

A Sufganiya a Day Keeps the Doctor Away">A Sufganiya a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Posted December 25th, 2016
 
Hanukah is right around the corner and Israel is definitely getting ready for this crazy, cheerful, and festive holiday! Wherever you are, nearly any shop you enter, you will always find these mouth-watering and famous doughnuts for this upcoming celebration! I really just want to warn all of you that you won’t be eating one or two souvganiot, but more like eight or ten! This is the tradition in Israel. If I remember properly, I ate about two a day for a full week—and yes, my stomach was basically made out of flour, butter, sugar and tasty strawberry jam. If you are a fan of jelly, don’t expect for the souvganiot to have a lot of it. That’s just how they’re made. Don’t worry though; they are still finger-licking sweets. It’s crazy to see how generous Israelis are as they hand them out, and they just can’t wait for you to eat it and get another one. And trust me; you will definitely come back for another one. 
 
 
Are you living with your parents? Roommates? Boyfriend or girlfriend? Whoever it is, be sure to bring souvganiot back home, it will make everyone’s day a little better. 
 
 
Living in Herzliya for the past year, I had the chance to taste the different souvganiot each stores gave out (yes I wasn’t lying about having two souvganiot a day). Whether powdered with sugar, chocolate or sprinkles, I was so amazed to see the variety of everywhere I went. The bakery that really stood out for me is one called ‘’Maafim Hamishpaha’’ meaning “the Family’s Bakery” in Hebrew. They have had their business for over 40 years now and are still doing excellent in terms of selling succulent pastries. The bakery, which also sells croissants, chocolates, pastries and amazing drinks, have the most delicious souvganiot for Hanukah. You’ll be able to smell them simply passing by. The moment you bite into one you will feel the tenderness of the dough and taste the sugary and honeyed flavor; it is SO good! The family definitely has magic tricks when it comes to their amazing recipes.  If you think you can discover their secret, I invite you to head over there yourself and have one or two souvganiot. That will definitely light up your entire week of Hanukah. Hag Sameach everyone! 
 
Written by Sharon Brand, Communications Student at IDC Herzliya
Read more about her Journey at her blog, brandtravels.com.
 

The Top 8 Must-Do Hikes In Israel">The Top 8 Must-Do Hikes In Israel

Posted October 4th, 2016

 

When you think of Israel, many people only think of the beaches or religion, but seem to forget the diverse landscape. This tiny country offers more than many other countries in the world, and one thing that Israel has are amazing hikes!


Israel is truly a hiker’s paradise, from waterfalls and lush green mountains, to caves and salt mountains, and even canyons in the desert. What more can you ask for? Here are some of the top hikes you can do in Israel. 


1. Nahal Jilabun

 

Photo credit: http://timeout.co.il/


Located in the Golan Heights (North), this is Israel’s second largest waterfall. This is one of the most beautiful hikes in Israel since it highlights the Jilabun waterfall and pools. It will take about 3 hours to complete with moderate effort, but is well worth it at the end. The best part, you can swim in the water right under the waterfall and even get a glimpse of the rainbow that reflects from the sun!

 

 


2. Nahal Amud

 


Located near Tzfat, this scenic hiking trail will keep you wanting more.  It means “Pillar River” because the stream along the trail flows into the Sea of Galilee. It’s only 3 miles and at the end of the journey, many go into the pools!

 

3. Wadi Kelt

 

Photo Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Palestine,_Wadi_Qelt,_(Landscape_with_St._George's_Monastery)(10).jpg


One of the most popular destinations for tourists, this canyon trail, is often visited not only for the historic Greek monastery but also believe it or not, the natural pools. The best times to visit are on the weekends when everyone is together, and there is more life and other hikers on the trail.

 

4. Mount Sodom

 

Photo Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8a/Sodom_Salt_Cave_031712.JPG/220px-Sodom_Salt_Cave_031712.JPG


Located in the Dead Sea area, this mountain is literally made out of salt. It has some amazing caves and views! You will be impressed at the many rock formations that look like they are out of this world. This 5-mile stretch can take up most of your day as you will be gazing at one of the rarest rock formations in the world.

 

5. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

 

 


Also located in the Dead Sea area, this famous water hike is by far the most popular hike in Israel. Get away from the heat of the Dead Sea and jump into a waterfall that will blow your mind. After about an hour of hiking, which is fairly easy, you will get to the famous Wadi David waterfall which is breathtaking and refreshing.


6.  Nahal Og

 

Photo credit: http://www.israel21c.org/


This hike walks you through many white chalk canyons that look straight out of a movie. The walk is very easy as most of the way its flat. On the other hand, there is one challenge, the almost vertical descend. Not to worry, there are rungs in place to climb down and very sturdy in case you are wondering about safety. This trail is best started during the mid-day and should end before sunset as you can see the colors of the sky and contrast of the white canyons.

 

7. Nesher Park

 

Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Nesher,_Park_Nesher,_Wadi_Katia_079.JPG
Located in Haifa, this is a hidden treasure that many have no idea exists. This park includes two steel bridges that hang above the ground with magnificent panoramic views. You can come here all year round and experience this awesome location!


8. Amram’s Pillars/The Black Canyon

 

Photo by Brian Blum


This hike is located in the south area of Israel in the Eilat Mountains.  This challenging path can be long but definitely worth the trek. You can see amazing rock formations and canyons you filled with black granite rock and limestone.

 

 

To learn more about Masa Israel and the programs we offer, click here. 

 

5 Things to Know Before Teaching English in Israel">5 Things to Know Before Teaching English in Israel

Posted September 5th, 2016

1. Prepare to Pursue your Passions Speaking of passions, MITF is your chance to pursue (or even find) them! Yes, you’ll be teaching during the week, and you’ll be busy at school. But the day only spans from 8 am-2 pm in most cases. This means every day you can do something to fill your time outside of the classroom. Do you! Make some extra shekels by tutoring your neighbors in English, train for the Tel Aviv marathon, study Ulpan, start a blog, venture out of your city, or find a volunteer opportunity. I worked in one of Petah Tikva’s community gardens and joined the municipality’s Department of Environmental Education team. If you’re coming from University or a rigorous work environment, this ITF year is the biggest blessing you can give yourself… the time to focus on the things that effortlessly make you happy and what drives your passion.

 

2. Be Aggressive Moving to a new country is hard. It’s not only the verbal language that’s foreign; it’s the nonverbal—hand gestures and sounds are just as much a part of the Hebrew language as words. Miscommunications are inevitable, and the Israeli school system is guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Stereotypes are dangerous, and there’s always an exception to the rule, but for the most part, Israelis want things done their way. They tend to raise their voices, but it’s not because they’re yelling at you. They’re just excited and genuinely want to help you. When English isn’t the most efficient medium of communication (with teachers or students), you need to assume a different kind of leadership and find your voice in a creative way. Play the game Israeli style. Assert yourself and don’t be afraid to fight for what you want with persistence and by standing your ground, in the nicest way possible of course, and you’ll earn the respect you deserve.

 

3. בלגן: Balagan When translated, the word “balagan” comes to mean: mess, disorder, confusion, problems, difficulties. Mesh all of those together and you get the true meaning. Cut and paste this concept into an Israeli school and we’ve got a picture of utter chaos compared to what you’re probably used to. There are no lines when walking from class to class, sometimes not even a cafeteria, no hands are raised (just fingers), schedules are often meaningless, and all the teachers are called “the teacher” or by their first name. Discipline is not in these children’s vocabulary yet. And magically enough, the system works. However, it is your job to stay sane and adapt your teaching style to this new environment you’re in—step outside your comfort zone and create an English game, teach through pop culture, etc. Oh, and you’re about to become your school’s newest celebrity. Expect to be followed by mobs of screaming children, dying to ask if you’re friends with Justin Bieber or if you live in New York City or how much your Pandora bracelet costs. These kids will probably give you headaches, but they’ll also give you hugs and worship the ground you walk on.

 

4. Hebrew is on You! Okay, so you’re moving to Israel for a whole ten months and will be fully integrating into Israeli culture. You’re obviously going to come home fluent, right? Wrong. Your job is to be an English teacher, which means, no Hebrew in the classroom. You’ll have some Ulpan (Hebrew classes) to brush up your skills no matter what level you’re on, but it’s your job to maintain it. 99.9% of your Hebrew education is outside of Ulpan. Force yourself to communicate in Hebrew as much as possible—learn your vocabulary at the shuk, the mall, the bars, pretty much anywhere. Find a nice Israeli who wants to be your friend and practice your Hebrew on them and they’ll practice their English on you. There’s no osmosis that will magically make you fluent. Seek out opportunities and commit to the language if learning Hebrew is something you’re passionate about!    

 

5. You’ll Fall in Love and Never Want to Leave Not only is this country going to be your new home, but you’re also going to have new friends, new family, a new community, and a new outlook on life. Even if you’re not coming from an educational background as a teacher, you’ll fall in love with your job and the energy was emanating from your students. Staff will be fighting over you to spend a Shabbat with their families, you’ll even get used to the Nescafé in the teacher’s room (which Israelis think replaces a real cup of coffee…it doesn’t). You’ll fall in love with your MITF cohort because they’ll have just been through this whole journey with you and will be the only ones who truly understand how you’re feeling.

Source: Instagram.com/julied_519

 

Granted there are bound to be ups and downs, good days when you’ve successfully managed a conversation in Hebrew, and you feel like you can conquer the world, bad days when your bus is 20 minutes late, sad days when you’re missing home and the luxuries of dryers, peaceful days when you’re sitting on the beach watching the sunset with your year-long tan, and exciting days when you wake up and one in every 10 days is a holiday… The list goes on and on, but the most important thing you need to know before you become a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow is that the experience is what you choose to make of it, and the possibilities are all at your fingertips. You just need the chutzpah to grab them.  

 

Written by Allison Paisner, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow Alumna 

 

The 8 Must Follow Instagram Profiles from Israel">The 8 Must Follow Instagram Profiles from Israel

Posted August 22nd, 2016

Doing a Masa Israel program is more than just going back after birthright, it’s actually experiencing the REAL Israel. It’s an actual journey! You will make friends from literally all over the world, see and feel things that are not found anywhere else, and you will want to keep coming back for more. 

 

So enough of us trying to convince you to live your life or even get experience for your career, this time we will let our participants show you what this “journey” is all about. Follow these Instagram accounts to get the real deal from food to places you never even knew existed! 

 

1. @whatwouldjulieorder

 

Participant: Julie Deutsch
Program: Career Israel

 

2. @kirilltrukhin

 


Participant: Kirill Trukhin
Program: Masa Tlalim

 

3. @tatianaitskova

 


Participant: Tatiana Itskova
Program: Betar Mabat

 

4. @davidjozef

 


Participant: David Jozef
Program: Top Israel Interns


5. @roo222

 


Participant: Rachel Schwartz
Program: Career Israel


6. @syrbrs

 


Participant: Ben Slutzky
Program: Israel By Design


7. @stasykh

 


Participant: Anastasiia Khodyrieva
Program: PMP Nativ Technion


8. @vainer91

 


Participant: Ariel Vainer
Program: Lej Leja
 

 

To learn more about Masa Israel and the programs we offer, click here.

 

Top 16 Masa Israel Moments of 2016">Top 16 Masa Israel Moments of 2016

Posted August 5th, 2016

 

Each year we find ourselves turning the pages of the calendar more quickly, and what packed pages they are. Here at Masa Israel we have had yet another amazing year of programming and events, both in Israel and across the globe. Now in our 13th year, we’ve surpassed 120,000 alumni, and have begun a number of great new initiatives.

 

Take a brief look at the Top 16 Masa Moments of 2016:

 

1. Make Your Journey Matter Gap Fair


On February 21st we hosted a back-to-campus fair for our Gap Year participants bringing representatives from Israel Advocacy and Jewish campus organizations to show participants the many opportunities available to them when they return from their year in Israel.

 

2. Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon with #TeamMasa


On 26 February over 100 Masa participants, alumni, organizers, and staff participated in the annual Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon as part of the first ever #Team Masa. 
 

3. Masa L’Maaseh  


In March, 40 of our Yeshiva students went on the first Masa L’Maaseh, a four day journey , cosponsored by Yeshiva University and WZO, to explore Israel's ever-changing landscape as they visited places and met people that are driving a positive change in Israeli society, while enjoying an exciting group experience with participants from many different Jewish Studies programs. 
 

4. Yom Hazikaron Ceremony at Latrun


This May 5,000 participants and Masa partners mourned Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror together at our impactful Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) Ceremony at Latrun, the largest English language ceremony in Israel.
 

5. Ventures in the Capitol: JLM Young Professional Night


May 30th over 200 post-college & academic participants gathered at JVP Media Quarter in Jerusalem for a night of professional development sessions with top Israeli professionals, followed by a networking cocktail hour with top Israeli companies.
 

6. Culture Shuk


With a dozen performers, authors and artists, from legendary author Amos Oz, to Ethiopian hip hop sensation Café Shahor Hazak, 1,000 participants took an inside look at Israeli Culture. 
 

7. Global Program Fairs


From Brazil to Berlin, the UK to Ukraine, our global team of Regional Masa Representatives have spoken to tens of thousands of potential participants at their events and fairs throughout the world.
 

8. MasaID


In partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Masa takes thousands of Russian-speaking participants on 5 day journeys to explore Israel and Jewish peoplehood and identity through experiencing land, history, and people.
 

9. Masa Desert Project


This summer part of our Masa Ambassador’s team set up shop in popular Taglit spots Kfar Hanokdim and Han Hashayarot to share with over 750 Taglit-Birthright groups how they can get back to Israel.
 

10. The Matzpen Program


Focusing on building capacity in the field, our educational department implemented a series of day-long seminars for our program organizers. The curriculum focuses on pedagogical principles, skill building, current trends and issues in the field of education, and best practices for identity building in emerging adults.
 

11. My Masa Mega Event


Over 3,000 Masa participants gathered in Jerusalem for our annual My Masa event to kick-off our 2016-2017 year of programs. Word on the street is that this was one of the best events yet!
 

12. MITF Levinsky Teaching Certificate Program


With a class of 18, this October marked the beginning of our new English Teaching Certificate Program for MITF participants in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education and Levinsky College.
 

13. Partnership with The Forward


People are talking about Masa and The Forward decided they want to as well. This year we officially began a partnership with their new lifestyle section, Scribe. Check out 2 articles by Masa participants here and here.
 

14. JFNA General Assembly


Our alumni delegation networked with GA goers, and helped spread the word about Masa at our awesome expo booth. We also held an inspiring meeting with Natan Sharansky and a very well-attended (and fun!) joint VIP reception with Onward Israel. 
 

15. Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit & Tracks


This November our Masa-GLI Leadership Accelerator put on another successful Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit, in Jerusalem, with generous support from the Wilf Family Foundation. We are particularly proud of the growth of the exposure tracks which allow participants to take their training into the field. Here are this year's tracks: 

  • FSU Participants Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship, with support by the Genesis Philanthropy Group
  • Hillel Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship 
  • JFNA Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • WUPJ / HUC-JIR Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • Israel Dialog Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • WeWork Masa-GLI Business & Innovation Leadership Fellowship
  • Masa Influencers

 

16. North America Career Development Delegation


This November our Director of Business Development International, Adi Barel, and Director iof business Development North America, Adi Hila, hosted career development professionals from North American Universities for a week in Israel, taking them to visit various professional development programs, and immerse themselves in the Israeli start-up ecosystem.

 

Written by Amy Albertson, Creative Content Manager, Masa Israel Journey
 

 

Carol Kaplan: One Girl, One Desert, One Journey">Carol Kaplan: One Girl, One Desert, One Journey

Posted July 30th, 2016

Carol Kaplan, Permaculture Design Course Certificate at Kibbutz Lotan and the Shvil Israel with Walk About Love, Alumna ‘12

 

 

After spending a semester in Israel a few years ago, I have made the choice to attain my MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence under the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

 

Want to know how I got figured this all out? Check out my story or more of a journey below:

 

 

It all began at Kibbutz Maagan Michael, where I was fortunate enough to have a great taste of Kibbutz life… on the beach! My new life in Israel was simple; as a group, or newly founded family  we walked to the dining hall, אוכל חדר in Hebrew (pronounced hadar ohel) barefoot, enjoyed a heavy Israeli breakfast of cheeses, fresh salads, and warm bread, then rode bikes to Ulpan and later began to our separate work assignments.

 

Being the animal lover I am, I quickly requested to work in the cow shed, רֶפֶת in Hebrew (pronounced refet) and fell in love with newborn baby calves on my first day at work.

 

After herding the cows, I rode my bike to the sea, ים in Hebrew (pronounced yam), where the expert Kibbutzim surfers showed off their mad surf skills to us newbies. There, my thoughts dwelled on the simplicity of life in a small but beautiful Israeli community.

 

Upon completing Ulpan, I then traveled to Kibbutz Lotan, leaving behind the beach and transitioning to the beauty of the silent desert. It was here that I would begin my studies to obtain my Permaculture Design Course Certificate that I hoped to translate into my degree back at the University of Washington.

 

While living in a mud geodesic dome, I learned about sustainability and the possibility of not only growing organic food in the desert, but thriving in the desert sun. Of course, my favorite time of the week was harvest day, when my group and I would make full meals out of fresh vegetables we had just harvested. There’s nothing quite comparable to harvesting and cooking together after a long day’s work building mud structures!

 

After my time at Kibbutz Lotan, I then joined a group called Walk About Love, traveling, living and sleeping the Negev, all the way from Eilat to Jerusalem. It was myself and people from Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Americas and Israelis all coming together. Like our forefathers before us, we used rocks as a pillow, stared at the hot hot sun and cried with happiness upon reaching Jerusalem.

 

It was at the end of my journey, after such a diverse experience throughout the country, that I realized Israel and I are inextricably tied. It was not just a country I was exploring; it was MY country I was exploring, not out of curiosity but out of devotion.

 

For how could I help a country I had not touched with my own hands, walked with my own feet and viewed with my own eyes? I now feel truly ready and capable to learn about the creation of peace in a country so disheveled but at the same time vibrant and humane, which takes me back to the beginning of all of this and what’s landed me at Brandeis years later to get my MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence.

 

These last few years have been an amazing time of my life and without Israel I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am.

 

Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman">Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman

Posted July 17th, 2016

My experience at Tel Aviv University was incomparable to any other internship or abroad experience I had in the past. I spent seven months living in Tel Aviv, in which both the semester abroad and internship portion exposed me to new and exciting aspects of Israeli life, culture, society, and religion. 

 

I chose to study abroad in Tel Aviv for a specific reason. Ever since my first visit to Israel in 2011, I have been curious about the intricacies that plague Israel's political, social, and economic sectors. In 2011 when I traveled to Israel with a youth group, we were brought to Rothschild Boulevard to see the social justice protests taking place. For miles, we saw tents, makeshift houses, posters, and protesters. I recognized that Israel was not just a state that I was expected to love as a Jew, but rather had real issues affecting the livelihoods of its citizens, whether they were Jewish, Muslim, or anything else. As I study criminal justice and international affairs at the George Washington University in D.C., I am interested in learning about how different judicial and political systems affect civil societies advancements in modern culture. Therefore, studying abroad in the modern, flourishing city of Tel Aviv seemed like my best option.

 


After a five month semester at Tel Aviv University, I was able to take many classes in Israeli politics, Middle Eastern history, and Hebrew from a wide range of professors. My understanding of the paradoxical dynamics of Israeli society expanded more than I expected. Towards the end of the semester, I landed an internship at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; a think tank that produces policy-relevant research and recommendations on national security and foreign policy as it relates to Israel and Middle Eastern issues. I worked as a Research Assistant for the director of the center, Efraim Inbar. At my internship, I independently contributed to three separate projects regarding Australian-Israeli relations, Abu Mazen's current standing in the PA, and Israel's interest in the Chinese economy. I participated in international conferences, table talks, and strategic tours in the West Bank and on IDF bases. My experience with the Begin-Sadat Center was remarkable. Choosing to stay in Tel Aviv this summer and work for a company in a country that has so much to offer in my field of study was the best decision I could have made.

 

 


My seven months living in Tel Aviv surpassed any previous experience I ever had. Leaving America in January and knowing I would not be home until late July seemed like a long time to be away from friends and family, but looking at the big picture and seeing everything I gained from this experience, I could do it for another seven months. I recommend the semester and summer internship program to anyone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone just a little bit and trust the people of Israel to take them in, teach them, and help show them what they can accomplish in such a short period. I'm grateful and thankful for the friends I made, the professors who educated me, and my colleagues who taught me.

 

 

Written by Dana Sherman, Tel Aviv University Alumna '16

 


 

 

WALL TO WALL: STUDYING ABROAD IN BEIJING VS. JERUSALEM">WALL TO WALL: STUDYING ABROAD IN BEIJING VS. JERUSALEM

Posted June 26th, 2016

 

By Donny Fuchs, Yeshivat Nativ Aryeh '15 Alumnus

 

 

If you’re considering venturing to the Far East, like Beijing to study abroad, you should consider stopping halfway, in the Middle East and landing in Israel. You can be in the middle of all of the world’s cultures, where East meets West, in the city of Jerusalem.

 

 

The Weather

 

What’s that in the air – is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… it’s smog. Unfortunately, the Beijing air is saturated with this human kryptonite. Air pollution is a major issue in Beijing, so instead of feeling those golden rays of sun tickle your cheeks, you may be sensing a thick, heavyset fog.

 

In Israel, a world leader in renewable energy sources that nourishes the environment, you’ll be able to interact with the natural world around you – without any smoke or smog. This means that whether you’re visiting the holy sites, exploring the shuk at Machane Yehuda, shooting hoops in the park at Gan Sacher, or simply out on a night time stroll around the Old City of Jerusalem, you’ll be gazing upon the Holy Land in all of its true beauty.

 

The People

 

Beijing is truly an incredible place to visit, with so many historical sites, landmarks, and cultural excursion right at your fingertips. You can trek across many miles of the Great Wall of China, get lost in the Forbidden City, and be awed by the Temple of Heaven. You’ll meet a bunch of fascinating locals, too. Perhaps too many. Over 15 million countrymen call Beijing their home, so the only thing that may be stopping you from getting to your destination is the mass of humanity that inhabit the city.

 

Jerusalem has grown steadily ever since Israel was declared the Jewish State. Today, the country boasts a population of 8.5 million residents and almost 1 million of them call Jerusalem their home. Being the glorious destination that it is, people from various countries, ethnicities, and religions are attracted to the City of Gold and you’re very likely to meet them all over the place. From coffee houses to bars to the many special venues around Jerusalem to bumping into them on the street, you’ll be entranced by their stories and backgrounds.

 

The Transportation

 

Beijing heavily improved and extended their subway system in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in order to accommodate the masses that would stuff the city. That being said, the subway is a really great way to get around the city. But that’s about it. As a result of its immense population, the streets of Beijing are filled with countless cars and buses. So hold your horses- and keep holding them- because you may be stuck in traffic for a while. The saving grace for Beijing’s public transportation is that it’s inexpensive, about 30 US cents for one subway ride.

 

All destinations in Jerusalem are comfortably within reach with the network of transportation set up across the city that includes multiple bus lines, a spanking new light rail system that snakes through the heart of the city, or an eventful cab ride (that’s mo’nit in Hebrew) that you’ll remember for the rest of your life! Israeli bus drivers are masters at exchanging money with passengers and navigating through traffic at the same time, so watch and learn.

 

The History

 

Beijing is known as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. It has been dominant in Chinese history for centuries and it is difficult to find an iconic building that does not have some national historical significance and wonderful stories hidden within it. From the Great Wall of China, to Tiananmen Square, to the Forbidden City, Beijing has fostered countless royal dynasties throughout the years, like that of the Ming and Qing. Wars over control of the city were not uncommon, for this city carried much importance and significance for all of China’s countrymen.

 

Do you want a history lesson? Then simply step outside your front door in Jerusalem. With over thousands of years of history, this center hub of Israel has hosted many nations, empires, and cultures. Jerusalem was eyed by many kings, rulers, and leaders from foreign lands to make it their own. And it shows. Roman columns and pillars can be found scattered throughout the Old City of Jerusalem. Every layer of earth leads you to another ancient and enchanting period in world history.

 

The Food

 

You’re going to want to try the local food, which is known as Jing Cuisine. Popular dishes include Hot and Sour Soup, Moo Shu Pork, and Peking Duck. The locals love to snack on a little thing called Fuling Jiabing, a creation made from Fu ling, a fungus which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. By the time you leave, you’ll be catching flies with your chopsticks and have enough fortunes from fortune cookies to spew wisdom like Confucius.

 

In contrast to popular opinion, there are no rivers of hummus gushing through Israel. Hummus is simply a popular chick pea based spread to shmear in your falafel, shawarma, schnitzel baguette, or any other food fantasy you conjure up in your creative mind (don’t go too crazy there, bud).

 

However, if you traverse through the shuks that line a number of artery streets in Jerusalem, you’ll be pelted by smells, sights, and foods that will rock your taste buds! The aroma of fresh baked bread and pastries will maul you on every street corner, while the colors of the sweet, succulent fruits and vegetables sold in the popular shuk Mahane Yehuda will dazzle like fireworks. No fungus here; just fun.

 

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Studying abroad is not all about hitting the books. It’s about experiencing and immersing yourself into a brand new culture. Jerusalem offers an abundance of cultural experiences to any student, but even more to students of life itself. With its vibrant culture, exquisite foods, and historical value to all of mankind, there’s a reason why Jerusalem should be at the top of your study abroad list.