University of Haifa International School Student Blog
Hey readers! I realized that most of my blog posts are about the grand excursions I go on in Israel and elsewhere, and not about the little, day to day things. So I wanted to give you guys an idea of what a typical day here is like for me and maybe a bit of info on my classes. I’m taking four classes: Arab-Israeli Relations, Jewish Spiritual Practices, Contemporary Arab Thought and Culture, and Bible: Soul’s Journey to Completion. I’m taking three of my courses at the seminar level (4 credits), and one at the regular level (3 credits). The only difference academically between the two is that you are required to write a longer paper for the seminar level. I figured that I may as well get as many credits as possible while I’m here! You can also audit classes – so they don’t count for anything and you don’t really do the work, but you still learn and enjoy the course. I don’t have any class on Thursdays and Fridays, which is really convenient because it allows me more time to travel and experience Israel while I’m here. Also, the earliest course (of all of them) begins at 12 – it’s great to be able to sleep in!
Currently, my two favorite courses are Jewish Spiritual Practices and Contemporary Arab Thought and Culture. I’m not Jewish, and had no background in any sort of Jewish mysticism of Kabbalistic teachings. The practices we learn about are absolutely fascinating and, in my opinion, would be beneficial to many people regardless of religious background. Upon taking Contemporary Arab Thought and Culture, I realized how little I knew about the Arab people and world. Though I try not to stereotype, I definitely had presuppositions about Arab culture – probably just a result of being American. I’ve already learned so much in the class than I ever expected. For example, I incorrectly believed that most Muslims were Arab. Actually, only 20% of the Muslim world identifies as Arab. I hope I can continue learning and bring some of that knowledge with me back to the U.S., in an effort to educate others.
Usually, I wake up around 10 am. Sometimes, if I don’t shower the night before, I’ll wake up at 9:30 to turn the hot water on and then go back to sleep until 10. Next, I make myself breakfast. More often than not, it consists of a fried egg on a piece of toast topped with Siracha. At my college in the U.S., I was on the meal plan for all my meals. Since my apartment here has a hot plate, I’ve been experimenting more with cooking. I’ve even made some Israeli dishes from scratch, like falafel, Israeli salad, hummus, and shakshuka. It’s been really fun because I can experiment and look forward to my meals, exploring a new side of myself I hadn’t really encountered back home. After breakfast, I’ll leave for class. If I’m running late, you’ll usually catch me fast-walking while bits of egg fly everywhere haha. The walk from my apartment-style dorm to class usually takes about five minutes which is really convenient. Classes are more or less three hours long, with a short break. Even though this seems like a long time, each class only meets once a week. Furthermore, many professors end class early depending on how much material we cover. I come from a small liberal arts school, so I’m used to pretty small classes. I was pleased when I saw this was also the case at University of Haifa. In fact, my Jewish Spiritual Practices class only has seven other people!
After class, I usually take a short nap and then wake up to make dinner and chat with one of my six roommates. Then I move on to my homework, which is really manageable. Definitely less homework than I can expect from college at home, which I appreciate in an abroad program. After I’m done with my work, I often head up to the Moadon, or clubhouse. The Moadon is a shared space within the dorm area where students can hangout, have a beer, do work, or catch up with their friends. I’ll see if anyone has plans to do anything that night, or just hangout with friends for awhile. Upon arriving in Israel, most of the students made a Whatsapp group chat, making it really easy to message and figure out if people want to hangout, travel, etc. This definitely takes away the stress making new friends and getting people’s contact information. Essentially, my day-to-day life here has fallen into a nice routine, and though I love adventuring, it’s always comforting knowing what I’ll come home to.