Falafel or Paella: Studying Abroad in Tel Aviv vs. Barcelona

<div class="masa-blog-title">Falafel or Paella: Studying Abroad in Tel Aviv vs. Barcelona</div>

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):



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.

source: israel21c.com


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.


Cleveland Jewish News: Financial assistance available for gap years

Cleveland Jewish News: Financial assistance available for gap years

August 5, 2016

By Carlo Wolff


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.”

What about Shabbat? 8 Ways to 'Live it Up' on Saturdays in Jerusalem

<div class="masa-blog-title">What about Shabbat? 8 Ways to 'Live it Up' on Saturdays in Jerusalem </div>

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:




Bet Haqawe





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.


Jerusalem tells London what's up when it comes to Studying Abroad

Jerusalem vs. London: Trade gray skies for blue skies next semester

<div class="masa-blog-title">Jerusalem vs. London: Trade gray skies for blue skies next semester</div>

By: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov


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.


3 College Experiences You Can Only Have at The Technion

<div class="masa-blog-title">3 College Experiences You Can Only Have at The Technion</div>

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, and
student 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: 


Fun Fact: Did you know that Technion is tied with MIT for winning the 8th most Nobel Prizes since 2000. Who wouldn’t want to be a Technion alumnus?


This one time on my Masa Israel program…

<div class="masa-blog-title">This one time on my Masa Israel program…</div>

Video: Cash Cab episode recently  re-aired on Mako


Sometimes living in Israel I encounter things that really jog my memory. Every colorful scene, aromatic walk through the streets, or even just surfing my social media feeds (Thank you #ThrowBackThursday!) reminds me of a good time from my Masa Israel experience. 


That is what happened this morning. I opened my Facebook feed to see a suggested video from Mako, a popular Israeli television station. The video was an episode of Cash Cab—in this game show meets transportation service participants have the chance to win money by answering trivia questions on the ride to their destination. I love to test my trivia knowledge, so I pressed play only to see four familiar faces. There they were -- David (Los Angeles), Thalia (Argentina), Dov (France), and Grant (Texas) — friends of mine from my time as a Masa participant on Destination Israel’s Tel Aviv Internship Experience.




In the episode they tell the cab driver to take them to beachside club, Clara, and that was the ticket to this trip down memory lane. Clara? Yea, I remember that night! Our whole program was there for a party. When you’re on the program these people become your family so going out to something together was a common occurrence. We were all waiting in line for various groups of us to arrive (you can’t fit 30 people in one cab) when the four of them walk up with huge smiles on their faces, yelling and laughing with excitement.


“What’s up guys? What took you so long?”


“We just won 4,500 shekel! We were on Israeli Cash Cab!”


Needless to say, this was a good omen for the night. We had a great time dancing the night away with the sea breeze keeping things cool; a nice break from working hard at our internships. And of course, we made memories to last us a lifetime.


Written by Amy Albertson


5 Reasons Studying Abroad in Jerusalem Trumps Rome

<div class="masa-blog-title">5 Reasons Studying Abroad in Jerusalem Trumps Rome</div>

If you want to study abroad amongst ancient ruins and gorgeous people Rome might come to mind, but have you considered Jerusalem?

There’s no other place in the world where in the same day you can jog down 5,000 year-old-streets, sip cold brew on a rooftop, and awe at beautiful people, all while studying amongst the some of the brightest minds the world has to offer.

Here are 5 Reasons Studying Abroad in Jerusalem Trumps Rome:


The History

Rome is home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage sites but Jerusalem is home to 5,000 years of West meets East plus World Heritage Sites. You’ll experience not only churches but also mosques and temples that date back to ancient times. 


The People

There’s no doubt that Romans are some of the most unique people in the world, whose hearts are bursting with a rich history, but would you rather have the chance to live with one cultural group or like a million. Wherever you walk in Jerusalem you’ll run into people from Armenia, Morocco, Poland, Hungary, Russia, France, Persia, Yemen and many, many more. 


source: Time of Israel

The Food

If you’re the foodie type then you’ve probably already researched the top foods to eat in both cities. You’ve come across the renowned Jewish artichoke that can be found in Rome’s old Jewish ghetto. Yes, this tasty fried artichoke is nothing but mouthwatering deliciousness. But why eat a Jerusalem artichoke in Rome when you can eat them in Jerusalem.

We suggest trying the artichokes at:




The Nightlife

Although the party scene might not be the first thing you think of when you hear the word Jerusalem, we beg you to differ. When the sunsets in the Holy City the vibe changes. Cafes turn into nightclubs and young people left and right are out and about. Rumor even has it one of the best bartenders in the world is now residing in Jerusalem,Kfir Bahar, the mad cocktail designer of The Great Gatsby Cocktail Room.


The Language

If you’ve done your research on Jerusalem then it’s no surprise to you that you don’t need to know Hebrew in order to have a great experience. English is the 3rd unofficial language of Israel and can be found on everything from street signs to menus. You will also find that nearly all of the population is fluent.


Written by: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov


Why the Jerusalemite Hipsters and Food are just better than Prague

<div class="masa-blog-title">Why the Jerusalemite Hipsters and Food are just better than Prague</div>

The Hipsters

Ahh, because if it isn’t Hipster, it isn’t cool. Little be known to the world that the hub of Hipsters is not only Prague but Jerusalem too. Winding down the old stone streets of Jerusalem, you’ll find young Israeli’s lighting their hand-rolled cigarettes and sipping local beer. Trendy new restaurants pop up every other day and the fashion sense is well outside of cultural mainstreams.



The Attire

If you’re looking to study abroad in Prague, you’ll have to get your outfits on point. Dresses and heels are the norm but do not vibe well with the old cobblestone streets. Who needs high heels anyways? If you study abroad in Jerusalem, the fashion sense is stylish and chill. Throw your Birkenstocks on in the summer and your leather boots on in the winter, and hit the streets.



The Beer

We all know that in Prague beer is cheaper than water, but what if you could be part of an up and coming craft beer scene? Israel is becoming known as the Brewish State, get it? For the past several years craft beer bars have been popping up left and right on the streets of Jerusalem. Pictured below: Jerusalem Beer Bazar


So you tell us what’s cooler. Be part of something already happening or making something happening?



The People (Other than the Hipsters)

Your semester abroad has to be something to remember, from the food to the people. The word on the street is that Czech’s are quiet and reserved. Come to Jerusalem and you’ll soon find yourself having dinner with the man’s family you just bought a tomato from in the shuk or better yet meeting new, local friends on your first day.



The Food


The average person studies abroad in their junior year, so by the time you pick your city you’ve already been all too familiar with the freshman 15. WARNING: The Czech cuisine is full of meat and potatoes making it very heavy. Come to Jerusalem and reap the benefits of the ever-so-healthy Mediterranean diet.



Written by: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov



6 Reasons Why Studying Abroad in Tel Aviv Beats Florence

<div class="masa-blog-title">6 Reasons Why Studying Abroad in Tel Aviv Beats Florence</div>

It might sound attractive to turn those late night pizza cravings into reality by studying abroad in Florence, but wait, there’s a better option. Every late night craving you’ve ever had can become a reality if you study abroad in Tel Aviv.

Here are 6 Reasons Why Studying Abroad in Tel Aviv Beats Florence:

The People
In Florence the only people you’ll ever meet are Italians, but if you come to Tel Aviv you’ll meet people from around the globe. Its city known around the world for being multi-cultural and with a population made up of 18-34-year-olds you’ll fit right into the mix.



The Language
Learning a new language can be rewarding—but tough. Good thing English is the 3rd unofficial language of Israel. Nearly every restaurant, bar, and street sign are written in English. #NeverGetLost


The Beaches
Florence is home to maybe one or two miles beaches, but 
why settle for two when you can live in Tel Aviv and have 8 miles of beaches.


The Nightlife

No doubt Florence has some of the best nightlife in Europe, but Tel Aviv is known for being the South Beach of the Middle East, dubbed the city that never sleeps, and was even named one of the 28 places to visit before you die. Say hello to partying around the clock.


source: Business Insider

The Food
What do you get when you mix culture after culture together? You get the tastiest food scene that exists on the planet. No matter if it’s 3:00 PM or 3:00 AM you can find anything from pizza to shawarma, to hummus, to sushi.




The History

You may be thinking Tel Aviv is nothing but a party, but you’ve thought wrong. On any given day you can walk the old port city of Jaffa and shop in hundred-year-old markets or see where the first Jewish immigrants laid eyes on the Promised Land.



Written by: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov