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University of Haifa International School Student Blog

Adar’s Final Post

End of Spring 2013I won’t say that it’s hard to believe we’re leaving. I knew it was coming. I’ve had my last lectures, and now it’s just finals and papers to look forward to in class. The Madrichim’s slideshow last week reminded me of all of the treks around the country we’ve gone on in the past couple of months, and some adventures in between. Things are wrapping up.I think what’s harder to believe is that we were here in the first place. That I got to spend four months living in a country that has so much to offer; that’s so different from what I’m used to. Where I don’t understand half of the conversations going on around me because they’re in a different language. Where everything from the political system to the social issues to the temperaments of drivers to the way people go shopping to what kind of soap people use is different. And yet, living in Haifa for a third of a year has been strangely familiar. I’m comfortable here, or I got comfortable here fairly quickly. Perhaps it’s my Jewish background, or my familiarity with Hebrew (which definitely helped). But I think what’s more than that is the specific environment I was put in.

The international school at the University of Haifa somehow attracted some of the most dynamic, diverse, open-minded and kindhearted people I’ve met to its program. The friends I made at school are my second family. People that I’ve met here are so genuinely excited to go out, explore, see the country, learn from others, and challenge themselves that I had very little choice in whether or not I was going to have a worthwhile experience here. I was, full stop.

During this semester, I’ve gotten very well acquainted with all sorts of communities I knew little about before. I got to experience the warmth and friendliness of Mediterraneans, the tenacity and self-reliance of Israelis, and the dynamics of the Middle East in general. On breaks I am lucky enough to have travelled to Turkey, Bulgaria and Jordan. I swam in the Dead Sea, rode a camel, hiked mountains, toured historical places, sat through services in a mosque, a cathedral, and a synagogue. I volunteered every week at a holocaust survivor’s community center in Haifa and got to hear some incredible life stories. I ate borekas until I was sick and learned how to make falafel by hand. My Heblish has gotten col-cach metzuyan. I completely wore all of my shoes down to their soles and got sunburned more times than I care to admit.

An incredibly meaningful part of this semester for me personally was the fact that I spent much more time with my grandmother than I ever had before. I took the train to her apartment in Tel Aviv every week or two, and really got to know her for myself. I’ve learned so much from her, and solidified a relationship that’s just ours – one I’ll keep with me for a long time

One of the main challenges of studying abroad comes from the fact that you have a limited amount of time. You have a plane ticket back to the states just after the program ends. It means you fill your weeks with things that you might not do if you thought you could put it off – day trips to different cities, four hour dinners, long walks through the national park, live music at the port, all-you-can-eat hummus in Horev center. It also means you have to say goodbye.

This is our last week in Haifa. Less, even. Yesterday was the last time I’d see my adoptive student, Ran. Tonight is my last long dinner with all of my friends. The day after tomorrow I leave the dorms, packed and ready to go.

So what am I leaving behind? Probably a little rug I got in Dalia, I don’t have room for it in my suitcase. But I’d like to think that instead of leaving this incredible semester behind, I’m actually taking it with me. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how, but I know that the past four months have changed me.

A week from now, I’ll probably be sitting at my parent’s house, going through my pictures with my dad over a cup of tea. But I know that I’m a different version of Adar coming back than the one who left the same house on January 27th, 2013. More open-minded, more well travelled, more adventurous, more social, and more knowledgeable. When I start school again in the fall, and for the rest of college, I’ll have my semester in Haifa to thank, at least in part, for the way I think and act.

B’ahava, with love,
Adar Schneider
The George Washington University ‘15

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Marketing Director for the University of Haifa International School. Offering students from over 40 countries around the world an academic summer,semester or yearlong opportunity in Haifa!

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