Few countries find themselves in the international spotlight more frequently than Israel. It is a land of immense beauty and religious significance, yet at the same time faces a continuous struggle with its claim to autonomy amidst a region fraught with conflict and cultural tension. As a result, it is a fascinating and deeply enriching place to travel for high school students. Students of all creeds and nationalities can benefit greatly from participating in highly educational high school programs in Israel.
Israel is actually an extremely small country, though quite densely populated, with nearly 9 million citizens. It is also a more diverse country than commonly thought, roughly 75 percent of the population is Jewish and 20 percent are Arab. While high school programs in Israel can be a deeply spiritual experience for those of the Jewish faith, the country also offers a little bit of something for everyone else too.
Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, is the largest city in the country with nearly 800,000 inhabitants. Central to the Christian, Judaic, and Islamic faiths, throughout history Jerusalem has been one of the most important and continuously contested cities on earth. Jerusalem is a pilgrimage site for millions of religiously devout peoples from all over the world, and as such can be an exceedingly fascinating place to travel to for high school programs in Israel.
For high school students who are interested in a more modern experience, Tel Aviv offers tremendous appeal of an entirely different sort. The Middle East’s third most influential economic node (after Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Tel Aviv is a thriving center for tech and finance, with a young and fun pulse to boot. Exciting nightlife, enriching arts and culture, cutting edge innovation, these are all elements that make Tel Aviv a great place for high school programs abroad.
High School Programs in Israel
There are many different types of high school programs in Israel to choose from. The most common are summer programs built around cultural and language immersion. Hebrew and Arabic are both spoken in Israel, and studying either language in country is a great opportunity to enhance your knowledge of either. Language immersion programs often allow students to travel around the country, experiencing different regions and giving students a chance to explore multiple facets of the country.
There are also high school programs in Israel that are centered specifically around studying Judaism and its religious teachings. These can be academic, summer camps, or cultural exploration oriented trips, and usually offer the opportunity for students to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, ranging from hiking and snorkeling to volunteering. High school students who observe the Jewish faith can learn a lot about the history and regional context of their religion by participating in a high school program in Israel.
For those who are extra serious about studying abroad and want a fully immersive experience should explore exchange programs, which give students the opportunity to enroll for a semester or full year at an international high school in Israel. Though it may be a daunting prospect, living abroad and connecting with international peers is a great way to expand your global horizons at a young age.
Scholarships & Costs
High school programs in Israel can be pricey, and because Israel enjoys the highest standard of living in the Middle East, it is a relatively expensive place to live as well. However, money shouldn’t prevent anyone from pursuing their dream of going abroad, so there are a variety of scholarship and fundraising opportunities that you can take advantage of to help you meet your financial needs!
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays are a popular housing option among high school programs in Israel, and are a fantastic way to immerse yourself more fully into Israeli culture. Dorms are sometimes offered to students at international or boarding schools as well. In either case, supervision will be consistent and Israel is a very safe country despite the region’s instability, so high school students will be taken care of.
Students from most countries outside of the Middle East and North Africa can enjoy visa free access to Israel, while those from neighboring nations will likely have to apply for an entry permit from the Israeli government. You can check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more specific information about Israel’s visa policy toward your home nation.
Benefits & Challenges
History, Old and New. Dating back all the way to before the crusades, it seems there has always been a power struggle over Jerusalem and the surrounding territory. Since the formation of Israel in the 20th century, the conflict and intrigue continue, making it an extremely interesting place for high school programs abroad.
Spiritual Growth. Even if you are not spiritual, there is something magnetic about the lay of the land in Israel, which has attracted religious pilgrims for many hundreds of years. Jerusalem is considered the Holiest City in most of Western religion, and traveling there is a truly powerful experience.
Networking Opportunities. On a more practical note, the people you meet during your high school program in Israel are likely to become great friends and valuable connections to maintain in the future. There’s no downside to expanding your global contacts even at a young age!