University of Haifa International School Student Blog
I’ll do my best to update everyone on what’s been going on. The semester has begun and it’s now in full swing. The class list is pretty extensive so that’s been helpful and all of the classes that are relevant to my major all sound really exciting! I am enrolled in Contemporary Israel, Islamic Fundamentalism in the Arab World, Arab-Israeli Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies: Diplomacy and Negotiation: Conflict Resolution in the Middle East, and I was lucky to be able to audit (take a class for no credit, but getting to listen in and participate in class discussion) a course in the Master’s Program at the university. It’s true what they say about Israel, everything is negotiable, you just need to haggle. The classes haven’t really had much in assignments yet, but that will absolutely come with time. We finally went to Jerusalem! It was absolutely surreal and remarkable all at the same time. If you’ve read anything about the conflict in Israel right now, you must be aware that Jerusalem is a point of great contention and I can see why. The security when we got to the Al-Aqsa mosque and Western Wall was pretty serious, but when you’re walking around the rest of the city the level of mixture is absolutely mesmerizing. You can walk down one street and see people of all walks of life in one small block. It is immediately apparent why discussions of Jerusalem being a shared capital are complicated, it’s not like you can draw any sort of line (even a jagged one) and have a split of people. They are intimately intertwined. This is obviously from an outside perspective, but what I saw was still captivating. We also got to see the Church of Holy Sepulchre which I hope to return to for Easter Mass coming up in April. The artwork inside and the feeling of walking around history for me was just indescribable. In addition to the traveling, I’ve also been keeping up with my readings for class. This next point might only be my experience, but I know for some people it might be a big deal. I don’t have to purchase any text books for my classes. All of the readings are made available by the professors in PDF format. I know for a majority of people that is welcome news because we all suffer the necessity of purchasing vastly overpriced text book and it was welcome to me as well from a purely economical perspective. However, from knowing myself and how I like to learn this has been an absolute learning curve because I prefer to read books. Physical books. I know there are many people, even in my family, that have a much simpler time reading on a computer or tablet screen for its convenience or other reasons. I’ve gotten used to it, but that was a big surprise for me because I was not used to it previously. The classes have all been interesting and the diverse opinions brought from different people from around the world have definitely been very eye opening. I have met people from Israel (obviously) the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, China, Ethiopia, South Africa, Guatemala, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and other countries I cannot remember. All of the things that Study Abroad coordinators tell you about getting a diverse perspective from all the people you meet are true. You won’t like everything you hear, but that is the fun in debating and trying to see how other people work. I’ll admit, I’m an optimist in a field of study where realists tend to dominate the conversation. I like that though because I think I, along with the people I’m debating, get to learn more about the other perspective. I absolutely love that! We’ll see how the next few weeks of the semester go. I’ll talk to everyone soon!