University of Haifa International School Student Blog
Hi! If you’re reading this blog it means that you are possibly looking into studying at the University of Haifa, curious about attending a university in Israel, or just curious in general. I hope to explain, from my perspective at least, what it is like to attend the university. My name is Pedro Sebastian Naveiras (most people call me Pedro) and I am from Bakersfield, California. I was born and raised there. In high school I was in Forensics (Speech and Debate), played football, wrestled, and worked for an after school program. After graduation, I began attending California State University, Bakersfield with the intent to go to law school. I am a double major in Philosophy and Political Science. I used to work at an after school program for a middle school where I was the Lead Tutor of the program. I left that job after working there since 2009 in high school, just last year to intern in a local government officials office. The reason being is that I would one day wish to serve my fellow citizens and country in politics and I felt it was good to get experience in the field. I realize that politics is not really a career choice that is easy to get into, so I want to go to law school where I hope to study Civil Rights Law and in order to preserve, protect, and expand the rights of people. I have always had a very big inclination towards helping people and justice, integrity, and equality and I believe that that career path would be a good fit for me. Enough about me, you want to hear about Haifa! As the blog continues, I’ll include more information about Haifa, my studies here and at home, and anything that I think is worth mentioning.
Before I get into what happened once I had arrived in Haifa, I want to briefly explain why I came to Haifa and why I chose Israel. I am studying Political Science and my concentration is in International Relations and I felt that studying international conflict in Israel would give me a more nuanced understanding of what I wanted to study. Also, because I am Catholic I thought it would be a great opportunity to see the Holy Land. I also liked the idea of a change of pace.
I arrived in Israel on Sunday, January 25, 2015. I got here at around eight in the evening. I knew I had already missed the university tour that had happened earlier in the day, but I was fortunate that I did not miss the final activity for the evening, it was the night out in Haifa to accustom the new students to the city of Haifa, our home for the next several months. We went to a bar/restaurant called Sleek in the city, but I don’t drink and I wanted to explore the actual city during my first night. I was lucky to befriend a group of five Hungarian students that were only here for the Ulpan. We started walking around the city in search of the Baha’i Gardens. The Baha’i Gardens are a beautiful 19 tiered garden that go all the way up the slope of Mount Carmel that looks incredible during the day and night. We were walking around with a GPS on someone’s phone (which we all know are notoriously inaccurate when you need them) to guide us, but the signal did not seem to work so we had trouble finding it. Luckily, we found two women that were kind enough to give us directions. After that we were even more fortunate, the same women told us it was too long of a walk and gave us a ride. We all squeezed to the back of the very small car and they dropped us off at the bottom of the Baha’i Gardens for an incredible view. I thought that was enough fun for one night, and we took the bus back to the university, and I was very much ready to go to sleep. That did not happen for several hours, but I was happy anyways. When I first got to my dorm I found it entirely empty and just left my things in my room, when I returned all my roommates were there and it was nice getting to meet them. I have three Israeli roommates, two Arab roommates, and I round out the group as the one American. We stayed up for several hours getting to know one another and talking about Israeli and American politics. It was a great night! The next day was the Hebrew placement exam that everyone had to take in order to see what our level of understanding Hebrew was. I am lucky that I grew up speaking two different languages (English and Spanish) because I like being able to understand more people and being able to communicate with a larger group of people. Being bilingual has helped me personally and professionally, that’s why I believed everyone that told me, “Once you know two languages, learning another is easier.” They were wrong. Learning a language is a challenge no matter which one it is, that being said it was not a challenge that I was unprepared for. I came to the Ulpan with no prior knowledge of Hebrew. The most I knew was “Shalom!” I was lucky to have a very patient and helpful professor for the Ulpan. I now have a better understanding of Hebrew and that has helped me immensely. I am by no means fluent, but I speak enough to get by. Anyways, I’ve got to get back to studying for Hebrew class. I’ll talk to you again soon.