University of Haifa International School Student Blog
Hello friends, Shalom from Haifa, Israel. :]
So thankful for view that I have from my dorm room in Federman housing, its nothing short of a blessing. I’m currently on Mount Carmel and in my fourth month of study abroad. It took me the first two to actually fathom that I made it here. I sometimes think about my home college in San Francisco, its hidden benches under tall green trees, and how vastly different it is to see falafel and head scarfs being sold here instead of bongs and vegan burritos during the Wednesday quad gatherings.
I know that I had a place in San Francisco, as a Mexican-American and as a student. I struggled to find my place here for a while but thankfully I have in my art classes. Without this creative outlet I’d probably feel just as lost as I did when I landed. I came in thinking that my experience in such a famous and creative city like San Francisco would put me in a different mentality than everyone else. It has, but not in the way that I expected. I’m given translations from Hebrew to English by the awesome ladies I’ve met in class, showing me that the only difference I have with these students is where I happened to grow up. It’s relieving to see myself as part of the Art Department’s student body, a place that I was most comfortable in in San Francisco, and now in Haifa. It seems serves as our universal passion and language. I hesitate every time someone asks where I’m from because I’m never sure how well known my city is (San Diego), but the mention of California usually results in the same response: “Why would you leave California? That place is magical.” To me it’s just home, and although I miss it after being born and raised there, Israel has showed me and taught me too much and I little room for nostalgia.
There’s less uncertainty after being here since August, and therefore less anxiety. I can go on adventures on my own and feel less worried about the bad news that always highlights the negativity in this part of the world. I am privileged to see a side of Israel that isn’t dominated by the violence between small portions of the population. Making friends on sight and hearing their perspectives from diverse backgrounds gives an entirely different face to the conflict. It’s not just news headlines fueled by tension. This isn’t to discredit the issues still occurring, but to paint a personal picture of Israel that I’m continuing to study and add to. As of right now, I’m focused on my studies and taking in as much of the experience as I can on a daily basis by making conversations and keeping an open mind.