University of Haifa International School Student Blog
Hi everyone! My name is Thejasa Jayachandran (better known as TJ), and I am a sun-dependent Miamian studying Political Science and Muslim Societies at Boston University. I chose to study abroad here in Haifa for two reasons. One, the classes offered at the University of Haifa are a perfect blend of Political Science, International Relations, and Middle Eastern Studies. Second, after Boston’s last winter, I needed to escape to a warm climate like the Mediterranean.
Here in Haifa, I completed the intensive Ulpan (Hebrew course) in February, and am now taking almost all International Relation s type courses. I am enrolled in Islamic Fundamentalism in the Arab World, Contemporary Arab Thought and Culture, Arms Control in the Nuclear Realm, and the Peace and Conflict Honors Seminar: War and Peace in the 21st Century. Along with these courses, I intern with Isha L’Isha (Haifa Feminist Center) twice a week, where I research on gender equality in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Apart from my classes and internship, I spend my time eating, going out, and travelling with the amazing group of international students. Just last weekend, the International School organized a trip to the Negev Desert, and Eliat. Having never been in a desert before, hiking through the Negev was a surreal experience. In Miami, I am use to hot weather, but usually accompanied by humidity, tropical plants, and greenery as far as the eye can see. Instead, the Negev featured sand, shrubs, and centuries-old ruins, which for my untested eyes was delightfully awe-inspiring. Funnily enough, as I was having this going-to-Disneyworld-for-the-first-time moment, my Texan friend was feeling right at home with the sandstone rocks, and desert blooms.
The hikes were long, but completely worth every second with its stretches of canyon, mountains, and ocean views. The only mishap was when I ripped my shorts as I was trying to climb down some jagged stones. Thankfully, a friend let me borrow her jacket so I would not have to answer awkward questions from everyone on the hike. The second day of our trip featured a small hike in the mountains by Eliat. On a side note, it is insane that it takes only about five hours to drive the entire length of Israel, while it takes about twelve hours for me to drive out of my state! That five hour drive was completely worth it because Eliat is this beautiful pocket hidden between the mountains of Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Better yet, the water was actually warm enough to swim in even though we are technically in Israel’s “winter.” A bunch of us went snorkeling and got to see the stunning coral reefs and fishes. If my Texan friend felt at home in the desert, I would say I definitely felt at home on the beach!
I will definitely return to Eliat, just like I will be returning to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Nazareth. Maybe next time in Eliat, I will cross off scuba diving, and bungee jumping from my bucket list. I think one of my favorite things about studying here is that no city is too far away for a nice weekend of adventuring.