University of Haifa International School Student Blog
Hey everyone on and off campus! It is me again, with a brand new interview with Giulia. We did it via Facebook, since I left after July Ulpan and Giulia arrived for the August Ulpan. Although my time in Israel has ended, I still feel very attached to the country and people. I hope this interview will be of some help for those deciding to do an Ulpan! My answer – hell yes! Do it!
1. Hey Giulia! Since I have known you a bit from before the July Ulpan – from UHIS Facebook page, could you introduce yourself? Where are you from and what brings you here to Haifa?
I’m Giulia Polvara, I’m 20 years old and I come from Lake Como, Italy. This is probably the 10th time I’ve been asked why I’ve decided to come to Haifa, since I’m not Jewish nor have an Israeli background. The main answer is for personal interest, as I already study languages back home, but mostly because since the first time I came to visit Israel, I felt a special fascination for this country, its culture, its people and the way they are attached to their land.
2. How did you decide to take August Ulpan and not July Ulpan?
I chose the August Ulpan merely for logistical reasons; I had exams until the middle of July. And I also thought that two months of intensive Ulpan might have been a rather traumatic approach to the language 🙂 Next summer I’ll probably choose to do two months anyways.
3. We have been friends on Facebook from the very beginning. I also know you befriended other people before meeting them face to face. Where our experiences shared on FB of any help for you when preparing for the trip?
I just hope I didn’t make someone freak out! But it was definitely useful, especially to figure out the way from the airport to the university, considering that otherwise I would have had to figure it out all on my own. Also it was way easier to arrive here knowing that I had already talked to some of the people from the July Ulpan. Advice for the future ulpan students: you should all befriend Ibrahim before hand; he’s now considered the go-to man on campus 🙂
4. What could you tell about your trip? Could you enlighten us on the route you took from your home town to Hof HaCarmel? (plane, bus/train,sherut?) What about security checks? Went easily?
It was quite easy for me to get to Israel, considering the 11-hour-long flights some of the guys from America had to go through. I left Milan Malpensa airport at midday, after doing all the security checks that a person can manage without going insane. After 4 hours on the plane, I finally landed at Ben Gurion Airport. I had the immense luck of finding a sherut to Haifa Uni without any problems. The trip on the sherut was also a great chance to meet the first people who were going to be doing the Ulpan with me. The driver asked us 80 shekels each, and compared to the price of the train, it’s pretty much the same, considering that if you take the train, you’ll have to catch a taxi anyway from Hof Ha Carmel to the university. The only difference is that the sherut takes you straight to the uni. And trust me, when you have a humongous piece of luggage, that can come in handy.
5. Why Hebrew?
I thought of learning Hebrew as the best way to get to know the Jewish as well as the Israeli culture. There are some aspects of a culture that you cannot understand unless you know the local language; it completely changes your outlook, at least in my opinion.
It’s always like that with languages, that’s way I’m so fascinated by them.
6. It has already been more than a week that you are here, right? How do you enjoy classes? How do you find Loft 124? Do you like it?
I’ve been here for 10 days already. I cannot believe how quickly time is passing by! The more I stay here the more I enjoy classes. I’m starting to see the first results of this Ulpan. Now when I’m out in Haifa I can actually recognize some of the words that I see! Our teacher, Sara Lee, is amazing. Her teaching method is so effective that after about 3-4 days of classes we all knew the alphabet and could read or make elementary dialogues. Yes, elementary, but still we could talk!
Ok, Loft 124. As I’m typing right now I have a catastrophic headache due to Loft 124. We went there last night, as every Thursday night, and it’s the best place to relax and have fun after a week of classes. Last week we also went to Ultrasound, but I have to say that I like Loft better. Less crowded, smaller, which is a good thing if you don’t want to lose your friends every time you turn around, and it’s also easier to meet other people from the Ulpan/university that do you know.
7. Where do you do your homework?
During the first days I tried to do my homework in the moadon, as I didn’t want to be locked inside my room all afternoon, but apparently that’s not the way it’s meant to be. The thing is, even a fly distracts me, so the moadon isn’t the most suitable place for concentrating. At least for me…but if you’re frustrated for not understanding one single word out of your homework, if you go there you’ll usually find somebody from the levels above happy to help you. And that can avoid you the unpleasant experience of being told by your Hebrew teacher : “I love you, but you do your homework.”
8. Are the minimarket benches a meeting point for you as well?
Yes of course they are! I’m pretty sure nothing much has changed from the July Ulpan. The only different thing, from what I’ve been told, is that the people from the previous Ulpan were more willing to spend time together in the moadon and to go out whenever they had a chance. SIGH.
9. Could you tell something more about your classes? Was it a cultural shock? 🙂
No cultural shock at all! It’s actually very fascinating to be in a class where almost each student comes from a different country, and have their own cultural background to share with the others. Although, we’re all the same in one aspect: no knowledge whatsoever of Hebrew. Lucky we got an extremely patient teacher, who made us feel like we were back in kindergarten…she basically has a song for every single aspect of the Hebrew grammar. Numbers, greetings, alphabet, you name it! So, no shock at all, traumatic at times, when you had to wake up at 8.30 after a wild night, but other than that, absolutely worth the money we paid to be here.
Thank you for your answers…Enjoy the rest!