My semester at University of Haifa's overseas program was my first visit to Israel. As a psychology major at Vassar College, the University of Haifa was a good fit because of its Honors Psychology track.
I had no idea what to expect from Israel, but from the beginning, every day was incredible. The combination of perfect weather, easy public transportation, beautiful beaches, and warm people just clicked for me.
I arrived in Israel knowing only the Hebrew alphabet, but was proficient by the time I left. In the first month, my Hebrew Ulpan teacher taught us a ton and the Israelis I hung out with encouraged me to practice my Hebrew with them. Before my semester in Israel, I had always been a timid person but the Israelis I met welcomed me into their lives and encouraged me to push for what I wanted and not give up until I got it.
The overseas program itself was filled with students from elite colleges so the professors were able to teach on a high level. My psychology honors course had two German students and two American students and every week, the professor discussed the psychology issues of different Israeli phenomena, such as army service or the early kibbutzim’s children’s homes.
When not in class, there was always something to do and everything felt possible. One weekend, a few friends and I decided to hike around the Kinneret. Taking backpacks with some food, along with our sleeping bags, we trekked around forty miles. We went to sleep every night, aching, and felt a real sense of accomplishment by the end.