Study Abroad | Masa Israel

Study Abroad

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.

 

11 PEOPLE YOU MUST MEET WHILE STUDYING ABROAD IN ISRAEL">11 PEOPLE YOU MUST MEET WHILE STUDYING ABROAD IN ISRAEL

Posted June 15th, 2016

 

By Andria Kaplan Aylyarov 

 

Studying abroad is a magical time. It’s a wonderful opportunity to expose yourself to new cultures, languages and most of all meet new people. Whether you’re venturing on this semester abroad with a gang from your home university or flying solo put meeting these 11 people at the top of your to-do list. It’ll make your Israel experience well worth it.

 

 

1. The Kibbutznik

 

 

A kibbutz is a place you heard your parents or grandparents speak about; it was the “birthright” experience of the 1960’s. The people living on the kibbutz, known as the kibbutznik shaped your parent’s vision of Israel. Meet someone who lives on or is from a kibbutz and learn about the kibbutz life and its contribution to Israel. (source: youtube.com/etian666)

 

2. The Falafel or Pizza Guy (a.k.a. your go-to food person)

 

You’re going to be out late while studying abroad and the best way to end your night is a greasy piece of pizza or a cheap falafel. Find your go-to food guy and make friends so he knows your order as soon as he sees you. If you’re in Tel Aviv I recommend the pizza shop on King George and HaMaccabi (1212 Rehov HaMaccabi ).

 

3. People from around the world

 

Israel is an extremely diverse country that welcomes students, travelers. and tourists from every corner of the world. Be sure to meet someone from an exotic country like Brazil, South Africa or Ethiopia!

 

4. The Cofix or Aroma Barista

 

Israelis drink a lot of coffee, and since you’re in Israel why not act Israeli and befriend your local Cofix or Aroma barista so you won’t have to wait in line. You’ll be lucky if you live next to a Cofix bar and the barista is a bartender at night!

 

5. A Super Intellectual Professor

 

Most of the professors in Israel are the world’s leading innovators in their specific field. Be a good student on your semester abroad and take the time to learn how their minds work. It will shock you how much your brain will expand from these conversations!

 

6. The Startup Guy or Girl

 

There’s a good chance that in the Startup Nation you’ll frequently meet entrepreneurs. It’s like every person on the street in Israel has a startup. Meet them and see if you can crack the code of how Israeli startups are so darn successful.

 

7. Olim Chadashim

 

An olim chadash is someone who has moved from their native country to Israel, otherwise known as making aliyah. Learn about how others from different parts of the world come to Israel to seek employment opportunities and benefit from Israel’s growing economy.

 

8. The Local

 

You need to have that special person to give you the not-so-secret, top secret advice on restaurants, bars and things to do that aren’t going to pop up in a Google search. You’ll meet them in class or they’ll live next to you in your dorm. Look to them for everyday advice.

 

9. Your Crush

 

The boys and girls of Israel are amongst the most beautiful in the world. It’s without a doubt that’ll you have a tincy wincy crush on at least one person while studying abroad – it’s okay. A little crush never hurt (and you never know, that person could end up being your crush for a lifetime).

 

10. The History Buff

 

There is about an 80% chance you won’t be paying attention to the organized tours through your study abroad program, which is why you need to befriend the history buff. They know all the history of Israel and will tell it to you in a way you’ll understand.

 

11. Your Best Friend

 

The best thing about studying abroad is growing as a person and discovering who you are with people you care about. You will need a shoulder to cry on when you are homesick or frustrated by new customs. That shoulder you will lean on is your new best friend abroad.

 

You’ll spend weekends exploring and before you even leave Israel you will already have plans to meet when you’re stateside. No one but this person will understand the experiences you’ve had and how life changing spending a semester in Israel really was. You’ll be friends with this person until you are old and gray and most importantly you will constantly relive the incredible times you shared in Israel.

 

 

 

Andria Kaplan Aylyarov is a Masa Israel & Career Israel 18 Alumna. Andria works as the content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.

 

"WHAT ABOUT SHABBAT?" 8 WAYS TO ‘LIVE IT UP’ ON SATURDAYS IN JERUSALEM">"WHAT ABOUT SHABBAT?" 8 WAYS TO ‘LIVE IT UP’ ON SATURDAYS IN JERUSALEM

Posted May 25th, 2016

 

By: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov

 

 

The common thought is that a cloud of stillness hangs over Jerusalem from Friday night until Saturday night but if you dig deep you’ll see pockets of the city remain vibrant.

 

Here are 8 ways to ‘Live it Up’ on Saturday in Jerusalem:

 

1. CAFES

Wake up and grab brunch. You know you want too! These cafes are surely open and waiting for you to arrive with sunglasses on and bedhead. Here are a few suggestions:

Menza

Bet Haqawe

Adom

 

2. TAKE A WALK

Burn off your brunch by taking a stroll in these fabulous parks and ancient paths:

The Ramparts Walk and get a high perspective of the ancient walls.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

Train Track Park

 

3. GO ON A FREE TOUR

Take the opportunity to learn the secret of your new home from a local. The Jerusalem municipality offers great free walking tours of numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods.

 

4. GRAB A DRINK

Drink at the Link. Visit the bar that’s in a 100-year-old building with an extensive beer and wine list. You’ll be able to enjoy a green landscape and great company.

 

If you prefer the hipster route then boogie down to old records at HaTaklit. The vibe is good and the drinks and better. It’s also uber affordable.

 

5. SEE A CONCERT

Ruach Chadasha offers free concert most Saturdays of the month for young adults that are free or by donation. The website is in Hebrew but you can translate it or message them for info.

 

6. GET DESSERT

Visit the Ein Karem neighborhood and grab treats from Sweet N’Karem chocolate shop. There are also artisan workshops and historic churches nearby!

 

7. VISIT THE ZOO

Grab your friends and see what Noah’s Ark was really about. Take a day trip to the Biblical Zoo.

 

8. GET NERDY

Embrace the past and present by touring the Israel Museum and Rockefeller Archeological Museum. If you’re into science the head over to the Bloomfield Science Museum.

 

 

 

Andria is a Masa Israel Alumna and content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

FALAFEL OR PAELLA: STUDYING ABROAD IN TEL AVIV VS. BARCELONA">FALAFEL OR PAELLA: STUDYING ABROAD IN TEL AVIV VS. BARCELONA

Posted May 20th, 2016

 

By: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov

 

 

You’ve been counting down the years until it was time to study abroad, and the time is now. You’ve narrowed it down to Barcelona and Tel Aviv – both jam packed with beaches, vibrant cultures and some of the world’s best nightlife.

 

Whatever city you decide to go with you’ll be adapting to a new way of life, with each country offering different vibes.

 

If you find it hard to choose which city is perfect for you, here are some things to consider (we’re obviously here to push you to eat so much falafel you can’t breathe and chill on the beach as much as possible):

 

Nightlife

Everyone knows studying abroad isn’t all studying; it’s your chance to let your hair down and really live. Tel Aviv and Barcelona are both home to world famous clubs and DJs.

 

In Barcelona, you have a plethora of districts to go out, filled with your traditional clubs to wine bars to cafes. However, ladies, you better buy comfortable shoes because with a population of 2 million people you’ll be waiting in long lines and having to pay big covers to get in on the fun.

 

Tel Aviv out runs Barcelona’s nightlife by far and is situated right on the beach. Forgottaxiing from district to district or waiting in lines, no matter what neighborhood you’re in in Tel Aviv, the nightlife jumps out at you – it’s in the streets – on the beaches – and right at your front door. Such clubs as Clara, Kuli Alma, Solo and The Block will rock your night and don’t come with expensive covers and long lines.

 

Be sure to stop by any neighborhood Cofix because at night it switches from 5 shekel coffee to 5 shekel drinks!

 

Beaches

Because there’s a good chance your university in the U.S. is not close to a beach, you’ve picked two cities right on the beach – and no one can blame you. Barcelona and Tel Aviv continuously make The Top Beaches in the World lists year after year.

 

Barcelona is a city located on a beautiful beach that’s full of restaurants, yachts, and activities. The beach in Barcelona, although full of vibrancy is only a mile long and gets quite packed during the busy season. If you’re looking to study to at the University of Barcelona you’re a 45-minute walk to the sun and sand or a 4-hour walk if you’re looking to study at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. You’ll need to get a bus pass to get tan at these schools.

 

Tel Aviv, on the other hand, boasts 8 glorious miles of beaches and from the Tel Aviv University campus, you’re a 20-minute stroll to Tel Baruch Beach. The beaches in Tel Aviv, although also packed, are full of cafes, sunbathers, Matkot players, surfers and outdoor workout facilities; so whatever your beach style may be, from just laying out to throwing a football there’s a beach for you.

 

Cuisine

Eating and traveling go hand-in-hand and since you’re looking to study abroad you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do both. In Barcelona, you’ll have your fix of Paella, various seafood dishes and will be eating tons of small plates call Tapas. You’ll notice that most restaurants have a cured, full-sized pig hanging in the window that is also available for dinner.

 

If rice, sausage, and dried meats are your things then Barcelona is a fit, but if you’re looking to make your friends drool over your Instagram for the next 5 months then get to Tel Aviv.

 

Offering far more than milk and honey, Tel Aviv known as the cultural bubble of Israel has burst onto the world’s food scene as one of the finest culinary destinations. No matter if it’s 3:00 PM or 3:00 AM you’ll be smothered with old-school classics such as falafel, shawarma, hummus or bourekas. Not in the mood to fill your belly with hummus? Then it won’t be a problem to find pizza, sushi, nachos or McDonald’s.

 

Another great plus to Tel Aviv is that this cultural bubble (known as habu’ah in Hebrew) is filled with people from all over. You could literally, eat food from a different part of the world every day, since people from Yemen, Ethiopia, Russia, Italy, Morroco, Iraq, Iran, Argentina, and Brazil (to name a few) have been moving to Israel continually since the founding in 1948.

 

History

In between your classes and social life, you must make room to experience the history of where you are. Luckily enough, Tel Aviv and Barcelona were both paid a visit by Napoleon and are huge hubs of history.

 

Barcelona, a city founded by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians and once ruled by the Romans has a lot to offer. Its streets are filled with medieval buildings and old stone churches. You’ll discover the architecture of Gaudi and stroll in century-old parks like Montjuic and Placa de Catalunya. The history in Barcelona is separate from day-to-day life, the Jewish quarter is slightly hidden and you’ll have to work to really experience the history.

 

Tel Aviv is located in a country whose history goes back thousands and thousands of years. Israel contains the most sacred sites in the world to the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and you won’t have to take a tour to experience it. In Tel Aviv seeing the history is as easy as walking. Pick any street to stroll down and you’ll see the Bauhaus architecture in which the city is known for and if you really want to see Gaudi there’s a taste of that too. Head to HaYarkon Street and feast your eyes upon the “Crazy House,” created by Leon Geneva, which clearly has an influence from Gaudi.

 

If you want to experience the ancient history of Israel and the world head to Jaffa and see the ancient sea ports or take the bus 1 hour to Jerusalem and walk around the Old City. If that isn’t enough, take a day trip to the Dead Sea and float on. Thankfully, with great public transportation, you’ll have an excuse to see and do everything.

 

Cultures & Customs

The Spanish and Israeli cultures share a lot of similarities. Both cultures have strong family ties and have a slightly more relaxed way of living.

 

The overall culture in Barcelona is hedonistic. When they say fiesta, they mean fiesta. During holidays and soccer games its common the entire city will celebrate until dawn. Opposite of the fiesta, a common custom in Barcelona is the siesta. Approaching 2:00 PM you’ll notice shops and businesses closing down for the siesta, in Spanish that means naptime. When summer is approaching in Barcelona it may even feel like a city-wide siesta as locals flock to other destinations for vacation.

 

Even more opposite of the siesta, Tel Avivians never, ever sleep. You will notice that the city is not only relaxed but awake and lively at all times. On Saturdays, as the rest of Israel rests in Observance of Shabbat, Tel Aviv becomes alive. Beaches, bars, and cafes are packed with the young, wild and free looking to celebrate life.

 

Language

Whether you’re fluent in Spanish or Hebrew or neither each university in Tel Aviv and Barcelona has programs to study in English. Barcelona is a touristy city so you will find road signs and menus in English. However, it’s often heard that most Spaniards do not speak English and it’s recommended to learn a few Spanish phrases before your trip.

 

In Israel, English is the 3rd unofficial national language after Hebrew and Arabic. Every sign in Israel is written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English which allows your navigation skills to flourish. Most cafes, restaurants and bars all have the option of English menus. If you’re seeking directions or want to know how much something costs – just ask. Israelis start studying English in the third grade and use it frequently throughout their life.

 

Convinced eating your body weight in hummus and falafel is the #bestideaever? Obviously.

 

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Andria Kaplan Aylyarov is a Masa Israel Alumna and content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.

 

HUMMUS TASTES GOOD ON EVERYTHING, VEGEMITE TASTES GOOD ON NOTHING: STUDY ABROAD IN TEL AVIV">HUMMUS TASTES GOOD ON EVERYTHING, VEGEMITE TASTES GOOD ON NOTHING: STUDY ABROAD IN TEL AVIV

Posted May 15th, 2016

 

By Andria Kaplan Aylyarov

 

 

You were always the friend with the big ideas who dared to be adventurous. Now, it’s your junior year and time to embrace your inner Indiana Jones and go abroad.

 

Whether you’d prefer the saltiness of Vegemite or the rich, bold flavors of hummus, check out our comparison of studying abroad in Sydney verse Tel Aviv.

 

The Food

Speaking of food, Sydney and Tel Aviv have fantastic culinary scenes, but depending on your taste one may sound more scrumptious than the other. Instead of putting peanut butter on your PB&J’s you’ll have to take a like to Vegemite, the salty, yeast like spread that Australians live on from the age of two.

 

If you’d prefer to lean away from high levels of sodium, then you would probably rather sit and dip freshly baked bread into hummus, your new favorite condiment. Walk into any café in Tel Aviv for some of Israel’s famous chickpea spread or find hidden spots like Hummus Magen David that is tucked away in Shuk HaCarmel.

 

Or, are you more of a meat eater? The locals in Australia will amaze you as they throw one of these on the barbie:

 

Ouch. Who would want to eat one of those cute little guys, not you! In Israel, you won’t be afraid to excite your taste buds with a little shawarma action. You’ll find these mouthwatering meat filled pitas on every corner. I’d suggest checking out Dabush.

 

Down with the veg scene? Check out this vegan shawarma:

 

 

The Beaches

There’s no better way to spend a semester abroad than on a beach. Tel Aviv and Sydney both have more beaches than one can imagine. The beaches in Tel Aviv rank again and again amongst the most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

Sydney, located in New South Wales is home to less and fewer beaches that rank, unlike its northern neighborhood of Queensland whose beaches frequently rank but are not situated in big cities.

 

Bring it back to Tel Aviv, home to 8 miles of beach, all accessible right from your university. If you want to lay out with a beer, learn how to surf or chill Oceanside all weekend you won’t have to go far. Plus, within one block you’re right back into the city life.

 

Diversity & Culture

Nearly 32% of Australians were born overseas (that is if you count being born in England overseas). Let’s not forget how Australia was formed; Captain Cook discovered the Eastern part of Australia in 1770 and the British began sending their prisoners to live in the land down under. Israel, on the other hand, is home to lots of foreign born people making it a real multicultural epicenter. It’s not uncommon to hear Russian, French, Arabic or Spanish begin spoken. Tel Aviv is the melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and food in the Middle East. Also comparable to Sydney is the LBGTQ scene in Tel Aviv. In 2011, Tel Aviv was named the best gay travel destinations from a worldwide survey hosted GayCities.com and American Airlines. The Ministry of Tourism is so awesome that it even backed the Tel Aviv Gay Vibes campaign.

 

The Adventure

If you rock your Tevas year round and own numerous Patagonia swag then, of course, you’re looking at both Australia and Israel for their outdoor features. Do your research though and save up since Australia is an enormous country. To see all of it, you’ll need to travel extensive distances to get from the city to the bush, to the outback to the Great Barrier Reef. Israel takes little change and time to discover all of its wonders. In 8 hours you can drive from north to south and experience the forests of the Galilee or the seas of Eilat.

 

The Opera Houses

Okay, there is no way to compare the aesthetics of Tel Aviv’s Opera House with Sydney’s, except that tickets to Tel Aviv’s Opera House are 50% cheaper. Plus, who goes abroad to hang out at an Opera House anyway?

 

Let Israel knock your socks off next semester.

 

P.S. Don’t Forget About the Language

 

It’s rather obvious that Australia’s official language is English. Israel has several official languages, like Hebrew and Arabic. English is the unofficial third language. So if you are nervous about communicating, don’t be, everyone speaks English and bars and cafes have menus in multiple languages.

 

 

 

Andria Kaplan Aylyarov is a Masa Israel Alumna and content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.

 

Career Israel: Daniel Vapne Profile ">Career Israel: Daniel Vapne Profile

Posted May 13th, 2016

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JON SENDER: THOUGHTS AS STUDY ABROAD ENDS">JON SENDER: THOUGHTS AS STUDY ABROAD ENDS

Posted May 10th, 2016

 

Written and published by Jon Sender , Hebrew University Study Abroad Alumnus '16, on his personal blog on July 5, 2016, three days before flying home from Israel.

 

 

On the shelf above my desk is a box of Q-tips I bought during my first week in Israel. Six months ago I looked at the quantity printed, 200, and thought to myself, that's roughly the number of days I'll be away. So by the time I'm getting ready to come back home, that box would be almost empty. With a little help from the days which I took two showers instead of one, that box is now indeed almost empty, having marked the passage of time on this monumental journey.

 

This past week has felt most bizarre, perhaps even more so than when I was first adjusting to life abroad. I can point to two major comparisons I've noticed.

 

First, both then and now everyone was in finals mode, but only now does that affect me as well. There seems to be this enormous pressure that I can't compare to the one at home. Everyone has no fewer than six or seven exams, plus up to two retakes for each—I still can't believe that's how the system works here—that will occur between now and August. Most of them will count for no less than 100% of the final grade. My suite mates are studying endlessly, taking breaks only to eat and sleep, and claiming they have no time to do laundry, go food shopping, or help me clean the perpetual mess we live in. Though I will soon be gone and miss everyone dearly, no one has time even to meet me for dinner, and I, too, am hard-pressed as I study for my own exams and prepare to displace my life yet again into a suitcase.

 

Second, when I arrived I felt like I knew where I was going, but not where I was. Now it's the opposite. While I have a pretty clear picture of where I am in the present moment, I have very little clue where I'm headed. Quite literally I'm going home, but figuratively I couldn't tell you. I'll be in a place where everything was once familiar, but will now seem a little off-kilter, I'm sure. I'm very conscious of the fact that while I've been away growing as a person, life at home [Cleveland, Ohio] has continued and kept moving forward. I expect that while everyone will behave the same, different people will be dating, and my city will feel different as a whole now that it has won a championship, undergone major renovations, and prepared to host the RNC. I anticipate I'll undergo an initial culture shock when I first return, and then another when I head back to school. I'll probably have to throw out a few new habits like yelling at people who cut me in line at the grocery store, and pick up a few old ones like greeting with a simple handshake rather than a hug and a kiss. I might hate America for a bit and unnecessarily romanticize Israel, even though right now, especially with July 4th having passed; I miss my country and am tired of the one I'm in.

 

More importantly, then I'll have to ponder the two big questions which will undoubtedly take time to mull over:

 

(1) What did the trip mean? And (2) What happens now?

 

I won't be able to look at the full picture until I'm off Israeli soil for quite some time because objectively understanding something necessitates that you remove yourself from it. But here's a start at tackling those two major queries while I'm still inside the adventure:

 

I find it interesting how on this trip, there have been many moments when I felt myself remembering things from the past, moments that had nothing to do with what was going on in the present, like first moving into my dorm at Case, or singing with Dhamakapella. I'd find myself listening to old songs I love but haven't played in years, and remembering people I once felt close to but haven't seen in a long time. The only explanation I can come up with is that just as these things are part of my identity, this trip has become part of it as well, reminding me of who I am and leading me to question who I want to be.

 

When you travel, it doesn't take long to learn you can't do everything. From far away it looks like it should be easy, but once you arrive you discover that certain buses only run at certain times, or that visas are only available in Tel Aviv. These past couples of weeks I've spent much energy working through my bucket list—including visiting The Technion in Haifa, attending a wrap-up event of an entrepreneur club I've joined, and going to Petra in Jordan—but also realizing that some other items would be unmanageable. When Tal invited me to visit his home, I was already too pressed with an exam looming ahead and needed to decline. This reinforces my belief that if you want or need to do something, you have to take the first available opportunity. But at the same time, by the end, you learn to accept that what you accomplished is what you accomplished, and any time spent regretting is a waste.

 

Trying to plan anything with Israelis, even a few days ahead is impossible. They prefer to go with the flow and act last-minute by nature, which is nothing but a headache for someone like me, who works off calendars and to-do lists. Whenever I waited for others, the plans always fell through, and whenever I went on my own, I missed out on a last-minute party or trip to the market. The few times when I managed to take a last-minute offer, I always had an incredible time. From this, I've learned that proper coordination is a fine balance that requires always having a backup but being ready to drop it in favor or something that pops up unexpectedly.

 

Living on my own for six months has given me a taste of the real world, and it seems odd to think I'll be retreating from it for a year until I finish my degree. Laundry hasn't been new, but grocery shopping, planning long weekends, and especially scheduling an ultrasound in a foreign country (with a foreign medical system, I might add) have all been major tests of my ability to make decisions, rate priorities, and decide what is best for me at the given moment. Let me tell you, living abroad with a hernia has been less than ideal, but if I can manage that, then I'm certain I can take care of myself absolutely anywhere.

 

Sometimes to be informed you really have to take a step back and ask yourself, what the hell is going on here? I've been living in the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for half a year, and only now do I have a better grasp of it. Over dinner with relatives Ted and Raisie, we discussed how much of the world prays for peace without realizing that peace is not in the best interest of all parties involved, and therefore sadly does not make logical sense. On another note, I went to Jordan not only to see Petra, where they filmed Raiders of the Lost Ark but also to spend a day in an Arab country and see how it compares, after having been in Israel for so long. Aside from anything political, at first glance the country seemed less put-together, with shoddier infrastructure, displeasing aesthetics of buildings and bathrooms, and poorly paved roads. I'm left to wonder if that's a reflection of Israeli versus Arab values, or whether I wasn't in the country long enough to get a good sampling.

 

While now knowing Israel is not the right place for me to live, I'm left to wonder, what is the best way for me to support the country from abroad? By vacationing here during the summer? By incorporating "what's best for Israel" into my vote in November? By keeping up my Hebrew, now that I've passed out of it at a university level? I simply don't know…none of them are exactly spot-on. But I realize I should do something, nonetheless.

 

I came here with three goals, and have accomplished them all:

1. This has been a trip about Hebrew fluency, which I have achieved.

2. This has been a trip about Israeli entrepreneurship, which I better understand.

3. This has been a trip about Israeli culture, which I cannot relate to.

 

Additionally, I'm leaving with three main takeaways:

1. Always be thinking of your next trip. The average Israeli has seen all of Europe, plus America, India, Thailand, and South America. I promise myself, ironically, not to return to Israel until I've seen more of the world.

2. Be a good host, because people deserve it. You shouldn't have to invite over strangers as the Israelis do, but offering the cable guy a glass of water would be nice.

3. Do not wait, take the opportunity and run. Israelis achieve so much because they listen to what Nike says: "Just do it." I have concluded it's better to act than to mull something over for too long.

 

What's next? Over here I have an exam, goodbye party, packing day, a final car ride with Tal and Yotam, and a long flight back to reality. At home, ahead of me lies minor surgery, making money again, preparing for the fall semester and searching for the starting point of my career. I'll probably even begin planning my next trip for next summer, after graduation.

 

This won't be the absolute last post, but it is most certainly the last one I write from Israel. Thank you to everyone who's had the patience to keep up with me. I hope you've enjoyed and perhaps gotten some perspective.

 

It's been a good trip, but it's time to come home. Catch you on the mainland.

 

What Mothers are saying about Masa Israel">What Mothers are saying about Masa Israel

Posted May 5th, 2016

In the USA, Mother's Day is a special holiday meant to celebrate your mother and shower her with compliments and gifts. Sometimes, a great gift can consist of you going on a long term program in Israel. In honor of Mother’s Day, our gift is to highlight how much impact a Masa Israel participant gives to their parent and the Jewish people. 

 

By Nancy Iankowitz

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother's Day from Masa Israel! 

 

To learn more about Masa Israel programs, click here. 

 

5 REASONS TO STUDY AND INTERN ABROAD">5 REASONS TO STUDY AND INTERN ABROAD

Posted May 5th, 2016

 

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

 

 

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