If you are interested in language learning and international politics, then Israel is a great place to study abroad. The University of Haifa has excellent language programs for learning Hebrew,... Aaron
Health & Safety
My time in Haifa
Submitted by Aaron - United States - | July 20, 2017
If you are interested in language learning and international politics, then Israel is a great place to study abroad. The University of Haifa has excellent language programs for learning Hebrew, Spoken Arabic, and Modern Standard Arabic. I had very little prior knowledge of Hebrew or Arabic, but I felt that when I left Israel, I left with an intermediate level of knowledge in both languages. But what really makes it worthwhile is that the language is very applicable in day-to-day life. If you do any traveling during your time there, you will easily find some places where people don't speak any English, making it essential to put your language learning to use (which is one of the best ways to learn). I also had Israeli roommates who were decent English speakers, but by no means were they experts. So I was able to but my language learning to use there as well.
If you are interested in international politics, then you will find Israel a great place to be, both academically and culturally. The classes I took were really interesting and greatly expanded my knowledge of politics in the Middle East. Depending on certain classes you take, some will have class trips that will take you to some very interesting and educational places. For example, on one class trip we went to the Golan Heights, where I was able to meet UN observers who were observing the Syrian Civil War. Though I should mention, on the rating of the program I did put an 8 out of 10. This is because me and a few other students I studied with did have trouble with one professor in one class. I feel this was a rare occurrence, as I didn't have a problem with any other class or professor I had. But if you go to a school where you know people who have gone to the University of Haifa before, you should definitely ask them about their experiences to help influence which classes you should take.
I found talking with Israelis and Arabs to be equally valuable to what I was learning in the classroom. You gain a lot of unique perspectives to the conflicts that happen in the region. During your time in Haifa you will also have the opportunity to make friends from all over the world. I met made friends from almost every continent, learning how to say hello in nearly ten different languages.
The geography is also very beautiful. The University of Haifa is on top of a mountain range overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, which is always a nice place to go on weekends. As part of the international program, you are able to go on two weekend trips throughout the semester, where you will get to go to some very cool places within Israel, and do things like camping and hiking. They go on different trips each semester, which fortunately for me I was able to spend two semesters in Israel, so I got to see a lot of the country. Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea, and Eilat in the southern part of the country were some of my favorite trips.
Lastly, I know that some people usually have questions about security. Throughout my time in Israel I generally felt pretty safe. The university is tight with security so I never felt in danger while I was on campus. We also had an armed guard with us on every class trip. If you do any traveling on your own, it's generally a good idea to have at least one other person with you, but other than that, if you are aware of the news and know what is happening and where, then you should be fine. Hope this review helps and that you enjoy you're time in Israel!