Hollywood depicts the study-abroad experience as either a starting point for a great romance or an international road trip.
But just as most people’s college experience bears little resemblance to movies made about campus life, college students enrolled in a study-abroad experience in Israel are more likely to use their time in a more serious and focused fashion.
International students studying at the University of Haifa. Photo by Keren Or
Justin Levinson from Woodland Hills was drawn to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s (BGU) Medical School for International Health because of the curriculum’s precise ties to his long-term career goals.
"Interviewing Ethiopian and Russian immigrant patients in the morning, followed with evening clinical visits to the Bedouin villages, is an experience in medicine that very few get," Levinson said. "Leaving the comforts of home and trying to make it on your own in a very different environment is a huge personal test. And it makes you realize how much you take for granted in the States, and how much the rest of the world has to offer."
David Siegel, Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, explained that "Israel is a global superpower when it comes to [developing technologies] such as water recycling, drip irrigation, desert agriculture, international medicine, environmental science and other things that will inform what careers will be in demand on a global scale."
He points to a 2011 Institute of International Education report, which shows that Israel is now ranked 17th among study-abroad destinations, and the number of American students studying in Israel is up 61 percent from the previous year. Furthermore, the California State University system’s reinstatement of its study abroad program in Israel is just the start of something very big. This year, USC sent a delegation of 100 people and seven deans to sign partner agreements with Israeli schools. UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, meanwhile, returned from Israel with six confirmed study-abroad agreements and another pending.