Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Why choose Ben-Gurion University of the Negev?

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) remains true to its founding purpose by actively promoting high-technology, desert preservation, water resource management, alternative energy, international health services, and education in the Negev region, while also building bridges of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors through initiatives in science, research and development. As Israel's only non-commuter based campus, BGU has been consistently ranked the #1 university for student life by Israeli students. The university is located in Beer-Sheva, Israel's fourth largest city, and an ideal location to immerse in Israeli life and culture. A train station next to campus takes students to Tel Aviv in under an hour, and bus service provides transportation to Jerusalem and other cities in Israel. With approximately 2/3 of the student body involved in community engagement/volunteerism, there are many options for study abroad students to get involved outside the classroom.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Growing in the Desert

Israel is an uncommon choice for a study abroad program, especially opting for Beer Sheva as opposed to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. I am so glad I chose the Negev though, because I feel that I was able to see how normal suburban life is in another country, and the city's rather neutral political leanings provided a haven for those of us that felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the Israel-Palestine conflict at times. It was humbling to be so close to the desert landscapes that in one way or another inspired the three Abrahamic faiths, and also to be only an hour south of Jerusalem. The ease with which we could access some of the world's most important historical and religious sites still astounds me. I will say that academically, I was hoping that I would be able to participate in more rigorous environmental research; that was eventually available to me, but it started late into my program. The program is truly what you make of it, as you have a lot of freedom and the classes themselves are not demanding. I am really grateful to have been able to live in this space, even despite the frustrating times where we were caught in Jerusalem after Shabbat began and the last bus stopped for the weekend, and we had to spend money on a hostel. These are all adventures unique to Israel, and I left the Negev with a greater understanding of many things, myself included.

What would you improve about this program?
I was disappointed at the lack of environment-related courses available through the OSP program, and the fact that it took so long to place me in a research internship in the fall semester. If that could be done more quickly and efficiently when students start off, it would be helpful.
Response from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Vanesa, I'm glad to hear that, for the most part, you enjoyed your time on the OSP and in Beer-Sheva! We apologize about the lack of environmental classes during your semester with us. Unfortunately, as with most universities, ultimate course offerings are dependent upon student registration so if enough students don't register for a particular course, we can't open it. I also understand your frustration in the timing of your internship placement and we'll definitely use your feedback to try and expedite the process for future students.

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Yes, I recommend this program

BGU OSP Program

When I first decided that I wanted to study in Israel, I didn't do it because I had a university in mind. My university hosted a study abroad fair, where all the major contenders lined up - Hebrew University, Technion, Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan... but Ben-Gurion was absent.

Which in a way is a blessing in disguise, because it made me all the more determined to find out more about the illusive Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Having some family friends in Israel, I was told that Beer-Sheva, as a city, is not the most beautiful or glamorous of Israel. It turns out that this was true, but I enjoyed my time here immensely. As someone who has spent a lot of time in between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I found that it was a nice measure of 'normalcy'. This is to say that I didn't feel the religious tension one might feel in Jerusalem, and I also found it was more relaxed than Tel Aviv - both of these things were a huge bonus for me.

I absolutely loved doing the Ulpan here. Our professors were the best and it was a lot of fun learning Hebrew that we could use while we were there. I plan on coming back to do the higher level Ulpans as well.

There are many interesting courses to choose from, tons of trips that you should definitely take part in, all made possible by the amazing OSP staff. I made at least two life-long friends while abroad here, and I think it is a great program.

Knowing what I know now, and given the chance to go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing.

Yes, I recommend this program

A Great Summer Program to learn Machine Learnig, Cyber Security, BGU and Israel !

Israel is an amazing country. It creates U-Disk which people all over the world use every day. It established the first Firewall. It is the cultural center of Asia, Europe, and Africa. It exports agriculture products with land area 2/3 of Taiwan. (And 60% is covered by desert.) It is a great opportunity to explore Israel and especially get a deep understanding about Cyber Security. BGU is a great university located in the desert. There is a high-technology center near the university. In the 30-day program, we took courses on introduction of Cyber Security and how machine learning can be applied in Cyber Security. All the tutors are professional, patient and willing to help us. I got deep understanding and interested in such area. Also, I got great academic training here. ALso, there are two field tours during the program to help us to learn the latest problems rasing in the real world. And OSP Coordinator organized two tours (Masada and Jerusalem) to help us know the history and culture of Israel. Besides, there are many activities held twice a week, like pub night, concert night, dancing night and so on. All the staff are so nice and willing to help us get to know Israel and try their best to offer us comfortable and colorful life. Besides cyber security program, there are much more excellent programs for you to explore!!! I really enjoy my days in BGU. I really appreciate every people here. You give me the wonderful experience here.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe more field tour would be better. And hold the resource fair in the first week so that I can have time to visit every department of the university.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I Would Do It Again

This program gave you an insider's eye into the highly innovative business world we live in. I met some extremely successful entrepreneurs, VCs, and specialists. I enjoyed the beauty of this culture and all the knowledge they had to offer. I came to fall in love with another country through this experience!

The classes were very informational. I took one of favorite classes in my college career thus far, while participating in this program. You learn to be a leader in the circles you interact in.

Touring Google's campus in Tel Aviv, along with snorkeling in Eilat were some of the highlights of my trip!

What would you improve about this program?
Highlighting the different business, organizations, and people you will be visiting and meeting. Featuring the talent that you will come in contact with via this program.
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Students, Faculty & Staff

A very vibrant campus, hospitable faculty and staff, and a more local feel than a 'large' city like Tel Aviv. A wide variety of people to meet and places to see. Traveling is constantly encouraged, and their 'study abroad /foreign student' office is always helpful in giving tips, helping translate, or assisting in trip logistics (critical for those trips over Shabbos).

The local students are very active both in Beer Sheva and other cities, so there's always something to do if not 15 minutes away, an hour and change into Tel Aviv.

I can't leave 5 stars due to issues during my last month and half, which is a shame since everything was great for the first few months. The dorms are also lacking (and more expensive than) renting or rooming off campus. If you are quite social definitely look for somewhere to rent instead of dorming.

Aside from this, I believe most will love their experience as much as I did if not more so.

What would you improve about this program?
Assistance for finding off-campus housing.

More student independence.


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Karen Salama

Job Title
Director, Global Strategic Partnerships
A marketing and communications authority, Karen has over 15 years’ experience building in-house and global practices for both start-up ventures and Fortune 500 corporations, as well as managing, developing and implementing initiatives across multiple industries and disciplines. These include Entertainment, Retail, Technology, Global Affairs, Education, Not-for-Profit, Arts, Health Care, and Startup Ventures.
Karen Salama

What is your favorite travel memory?

Brazil when I was 5 years old. It was the first trip that I truly remembered. The people were incredibly warm and kind. The Copacabana beach (and hotel) was beautiful - the sand was unbearably hot. The stunning sunsets - blood orange in colour. To this day, I have never seen a sunset like that. Listening to Bossanova, taking the cable car tram to Sugarloaf Mountain, playing on the swings at the “Blue Park” and drinking mango juice…

Brazil and Brazilians will always have a soft spot in my heart.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Israeli academia and the mindset is uniquely different from any Israeli I have worked with previously (which has primarily been in the entrepreneurship/start-up world). I have learned a lot about patience, which has never been my strong suit. I have started to appreciate the Middle Eastern way of thinking, which is considerably different from the North American approach. Applying these cultural differences is essential in order to be successful when working globally.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

We have had a few wonderful stories and there isn’t one that stands out more than the others. The most important takeaway for me has been hearing how BGU has enlightened the overall experience in Israel and created a connection to the country which had not been created previously. The campus life experience gave these students the opportunity to feel at home and build a life of activity and friends. For the students that had internships, they loved combining their learning with academics and soft skills, as well as meeting and working side by side with innovators and creators. The overall journey has created such an impact that many have expressed interest in returning to Israel and in some cases, to even sign up for more programs.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Learning Hebrew is always helpful when working with and/or living in Israel. Therefore, studying Ulpan would be an immediate no-brainer.

Being that there is so much innovation and tech opportunities developing in the Negev with the Advanced Technologies Park and the Eilat Tech Hub, I would also take advantage of working with some of the accelerators and innovation hubs as well as BGU's Yazamut360 (entrepreneurship program).

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Creating Yazamut360 (our new entrepreneurship program and center) which includes Israel’s first student-run venture fund and Women’s Entrepreneurship program. Cactus Capital Fund, the student-run venture, was modeled after Harvard and MIT with one small (and important) addition: The goal to develop the ecosystem of the region. By creating companies, you create employment and infrastructure that will develop socio-economically. This, in turn, will create the region and thus, make the Negev the next center of innovation in Israel.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Strong leadership. This is the key to any company’s success. A leader with a vision and a solid understanding of how to achieve that vision, even if it means surrounding himself/herself with innovative minds (and more importantly, recognizing and supporting talent and great thinking). This will create an environment of creativity, ambition and drive. Success is married to this mindset.

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