I had done so before (three times) and absolutely loved everything about it. I enjoy traveling in and of itself, but it becomes 20 times more enriching when it it through a program and learning about the place. Study abroad allows me to continue to grow as a global person.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?
Its ripple effect. It pushes you beyond your comfort zone and opens your eyes to the world, and inspires you to continue doing so.
Why did you choose The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for study abroad?
I was deeply invested in the region and the sociopolitical problem that is going on, and thus wanted to see what efforts were being taken in addressing said problems.
What made your experience abroad unique?
The complementary field excursions, such as embassy trips or meet and greets with ambassadors, such as the United Nations, UN Peacekeepers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Parliament, etc.
Is there anything you wish you would have known prior to your arrival?
That they speak Hebrew. I had no idea!
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
They were a text message away, so helpful and always available!
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
Woke up about 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and had class for a couple of hours, had the entire day free, or was at a class excursion somewhere of regional importance. It varied, which was what makes this program so unique; it never is mundane.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
Trying out new restaurants, traveling to nearby cities or countries, and going to museums and historical sites.
What surprised you most about Jerusalem?
How politicized it was; definitely the political tensions missing in Tel Aviv per se.
How was your accommodation? What did you like best about it?
It was really nice. It's like a four bedroom apartment with private bedrooms and two shared bathrooms, but one shower, a kitchen, living room, and dining room. The complex was well guarded with security at the entrances requiring identification for entrance. There was a bar, supermarket, and laundromat on site, which made it amazing (if we didn't feel like going out we could just head down to our bar literally right outside our building).
What was your favorite part about Israel?
The sites, the people, the food, the diversity, everything!
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Students must know how to be culturally sensitive.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to the Middle East?
Casual, conservative clothing for religious sites (i.e. long skirts for girls, tees, hats, cargo shorts for guys). It really is laid back and extremely hot in the summer, however really cold in the winter. A light sweater for the night is helpful as it does get chilly.
What was the hardest part about studying abroad?
Trying to do it all and see it all. There is never enough time. Also, the language barrier.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
There was a language barrier, however, English is continuously becoming more prevalent in other places of the world.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
Extended my time there...definitely!
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
I'm always yearning for the time I get to go back to all those places. I talk about it with my friends and encourage them to experience it for themselves.
Would you recommend The Hebrew University of Jerusalem to others? Why?
Yes, the professors were extremely knowledgable and nonpartisan. The staff was respectful and great. The learning environment was one of a kind. It included field trips and night outs with professors. It was amazing, really distinct, and dynamic.
If you could study abroad again, where would you go?
I would probably go somewhere in Southeast Asia, or maybe Tibet because of its distinct culture.
Selenne is currently double majoring in political science and philosophy. She has been to more than 30 countries, studied abroad four times, and worked in political campaigns as a regional outreach coordinator. Selenne has loved every bit of her undergraduate journey and, if given the chance, would do it all over again.