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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Chadash
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 tincywincy 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.
Copenhagen may be a top study abroad destination, but wouldn’t you rather spend your semester abroad immersed in a 5,000-year-old city accompanied by a gorgeous Mediterranean climate?
We thought so and here are 4 reasons why ancient streets are better than snow:
Copenhagen welcomes a great European culture which is worth seeing at some point in life. When you’re young and looking to have the best 5 months ever, you spend it amongst as many cultures as possible. There’s nowhere better to do this than in Jerusalem. The city streets are bursting with people from around the world, both locals and tourists. Don’t be surprised if one moment you’re talking to someone from France then the next someone from Yemen, this is an everyday occurrence here. The plus side, everyone your programs speaks English, even if they’re from other countries.
As if Danish will come in handy throughout your life, why not spend 5 months speaking the language you already know… English. Bet you didn’t know that English is the 3rd unofficial language of Israel. Plus, if you want to learn Hebrew, every study abroad program in Jerusalem offers language classes.
Yes, most countries in Europe are known for great party scenes. However, when you’re walking in Machne Yehuda (the Shuk) and the sun begins to set you won’t know what has hit you. All of a sudden fruit stands turn into wine bars and cheese stands turn into beer gardens and before you know it the entire shuk is a club. It’ll be a snapchat story like never before.
In Denmark, you may be miles from multiple seas at any given time, but only in Jerusalem can you be a hop, skip and a jump from floating in a sea, The Dead Sea. There’s no better way to fill your Instagram up than with pictures of yourself doused in mud while floating in an ancient sea. Plus, the sea and the mud are great spa treatments so you’ll go home with a just-got-back-from-studying-abroad-glow!
People-watching at one of the many upbeat cafes in Berlin sure does seem exciting. That scene, however, is absolutely nothing compared to what you can see walking through the shuk in Jerusalem. At any point during the day, or the night, the city’s heart is always beating.
Going out at night in Berlin is great and relatively inexpensive, but you can get the same thing and SO much more in Jerusalem. During the day the shuk is filled with markets, yet once the sun goes down they close up their shops and the entire street switches moods. You can turn down one side street and find a huge dance floor, turn another corner and smoke hookah, or find yourself in a hidden beer garden.
Although you will be able to find people in Berlin who speak a language other than German, it will not be nearly as convenient as it would be in Jerusalem. English is the 3rd unofficial language of Israel, so you won’t have to worry about learning Hebrew if you aren’t interested!
While Berlin may have its nice summer weather, winters in Berlin are brutal. Luckily, the weather in Israel is beautiful year round! When your schedule allows you some time to travel, you never have to worry about weather conditions getting in your way of having a great time. Just pack your bags and get going.
While Berlin’s unemployment rates are skyrocketing, businesses in Israel is bursting. Gaining skills and connections in Jerusalem will give you the experience you need to sprint up the career ladder. You’ll be 5 steps ahead of the game when you return home.
Berlin’s crowd is cool and hip but also known as being standoffish. Jerusalemites are 180 degrees in the opposite direction. These people LOVE everyone. In no time you’ll find yourself having big family dinners and local friends. Think of the city as one giant family.
Jerusalem is swarming with people from different cultures, which speak different languages, and have different stories. Spend your semester abroad in this ancient city and we promise you’ll so learn so much about yourself and the world.
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):
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Come to Israel and have a semester abroad like never before.
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.
Another possible source of money is Masa Israel, an Israeli program that can supplement other gap year resources. A high school student interested in a gap year can apply to Masa Israel for “financial aid above what the normal amount would be,” she said. “They definitely should apply to the program that they’re going on to see if there’s financial aid from the program.”
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.
Under the gray skies in the Queen’s land, you can sip tea and eat curry on your semester abroad.
You could even chase down Prince Harry.
If catching Prince Harry is too hard, you can chase others on horses.
Don’t fancy the above? Then it’s time to trade the traditional for the untraditional. Go somewhere that defies exciting. Spend your semester abroad in Jerusalem.
You’re probably thinking right now, “Why would I want to spend my semester abroad with rabbis and synagogues.” Fortunately, you’re in luck because Jerusalem offers much more.
You’ll experience music festivals in the craziest places, like in the Negev and on the shores of the Dead Sea.
You won’t have to be troubled by standing in a queue for the little things like coffees and takeaways. Because in Israel the persona of a *line* doesn’t exist.
Like waiting in line, when the Israeli’s want something, they go get it. It’s the same in the workplace, on the field or in school. You’ve probably heard of all this before since Israel is one of the world’s leading countries for tech and innovation.
On your semester abroad you’ll have the opportunity to be a part of all of this. Every class in Israel is known to take things above and beyond. Why take notes when you can do:
Don’t let us forget about the pub life you’ll experience in this Holy City. Jerusalem’s beer scene is off the map. You have the shuk that transforms from veggie and falafel stands to Beer Bazaar’s and live music before your very own eyes.
Let me guess, though, you want to study in London because you’ve been fascinated by castles since you were a kid. The only thing better than experiencing Windsor Castle would be experiencing the untouched wonders of Israel’s castles – which I’m assuming you had no idea existed.
Take a day trip to these:
Belvoir Fortress, located in the Northern Galilee
Apollonia, located in Arsuf, Israel
Atlit Castle and Castle Pilgrim, Haifa, Israel
Most importantly is the food. You cannot study abroad and not dine on delicious meals. You do could as the British do and eat curry or you can do as the Israeli’s do and munch on all-of-this:
When you’re ready to think outside of the box and make the most out of college, we’re here. Get in touch with Masa Israel today and get your life started.
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.
Experience the unique opportunity of studying abroad at The Technion where the limits of engineering are pushed to the edge. You’ll be challenged at one of the world’s most innovative universities and have an intensive course track tailored specifically for you.
The Technion is ranked 1st Worldwide for Innovation in a Challenging Environment and is the proud home to 18 departments, 60 advanced research centers and boasts a notable faculty of over 600.
Start your innovative immersion experience in Engineering and Science, Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Humanities at Technion International by checking out these three classes only offered here:
1. Social Ventures
Learn today’s business models, tools and theories to build and sustain social ventures. Through interactive lectures, web discussion, andstudent led presentations you’ll share ideas and inspire those around you.
2. Neubauer American Entrepreneurship, 3-Day-Startup
In the midst of your semester abroad get a real taste of startup life through this 3-Day-Startup course. You’ll go through the motion of starting a company to get acquainted with the ever-so-catchy Technion spirit.
3. History and Theory of Industrial Design 2: From WW11 to Contemporary
From the beginning of pop culture to the rise of the hi-tech industry and everything in between this course will teach you all aspects relevant to the development of industrial design and the role of the designer.
To get a dose of student life at Technion checks out this video: