Israel may be a tiny geographic part of the Middle East, but it commands a strong international presence, not only for its culture but also for its educational resources and bright students. In fact, 24% of Israel’s workforce holds university degrees.
Some would say that the “homeland” for the Jewish people has some of the friendliest people in the world. To think of the regional violence between Arabs and Jews as characteristic of Israel is not doing justice to the nation. There is much more than meets the eye. Sign up for a program, begin your study abroad travels, and experience Israeli culture for yourself.
Israel may not be a huge country, but there are a diversity of program options for you there. Selecting a "home away from home" that sounds the most adventurous will be crucial in defining the success of your study abroad trip.
One of the world’s most iconic and religiously active cities, Jerusalem is a hub of activity. While that activity can occasionally be violent, the people you encounter regardless of their faith—Christian, Muslim, or Jewish—will be well worth it. The Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Old City are but some of the areas that are full of history and contention. When it comes to educationally-enriching cities, you can’t get much better than Jerusalem.
Located right on the Mediterranean Sea, Tel Aviv is the face of modern Israel. Although Tel Aviv is relatively small compared to large global cities, it has become one of the Mediterranean’s hottest spots to party and soak up the Israeli and Middle Eastern visual arts culture. If you attend the University of Tel Aviv, just remember to bring your dancing shoes.
As the third-largest city in the country, Haifa is known for being industrial and for being the “working man's city”. It is a seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, just below the ever-beautiful Mount Carmel.
Planning Your Trip
Whether it’s a coastal university or one at the heart of the capital, Israeli universities offer opportunities aplenty for educational and cultural immersion. Be sure to pick the housing, language of instruction, and university that is best suited for you. The language courses, housing options, and availability of cultural activities should be factors of your ultimate decision.
Although a proficiency in Hebrew is not required to get by in Israel, a semester there would be the opportune time to improve your language skills; NRCSA also believes this (we'd have to agree!) That’s why their program offers Hebrew-instructed classes and a home-stay whereby the student stays with his or her teacher. What’s more, there are chances for Arabic language immersion, courtesy of IFSA-Butler Study Abroad program in Jerusalem. Whatever you prefer, we definitely encourage students to take advantage of language learning opportunities unique to Israel.
Regardless if you study Hebrew during your study abroad experience, you will likely be able to get by with little to no language barrier. Most Israelis speak English and as a student, everyone on campus will likely speak English fluently.
As a study abroad student in Israel, you can either stay in a home-stay and eat heaps of homemade baba ganoush, opt to stay in a private or shared apartment, or choose to stay on campus in student dormitory living. Whatever strikes your fancy, be sure to find a program that will cater to your needs and desires.
Cooking your own meals is a great way to save money as a student living in an apartment or dorm. The costs of food in supermarkets and restaurants will be comparable in price to what you would pay on average across Europe. However, every major city in Israel boasts a big market (or shuk) where you can buy popular local dishes for ridiculously low prices.
Immersion and cultural activities
Depending on the program you pick, you may have a slew of weekend activities and schedules to look forward to for the duration of your program. While these guided tours complement your studies and usually provide great bonding time for your new classmates, some view these organized excursions as restraining their freedom. Which do you prefer? Choose a study abroad program that encompasses your touristic, as well as academic, needs.
Don’t expect to go to Israel and sacrifice all of the amenities and luxuries from home. Israel is home to many startups, as technology is at the forefront of its economy. Some very popular companies, such as Wix, Conduit, Fiverr and the mobile app sensation Waze, are headquartered in Israel. There is also a strong medical sector in the country. All of these successful ventures have helped the country develop into an entrepreneurial melting pot. For students who have an innovative mindset, studying in Israel will be a very beneficial experience.
Study Visas in Israel
Although not very advisable, student visas can be acquired once in Israel. With a student visa, you can leave and re-enter Israel as many times as desired for one year. After the year, you can renew your student visa in Israel or abroad.
Costs & Funding
Living in Israel is not cheap, so you must be financially prepared to tackle the high costs of groceries, rooms, modes of transportation, etc. What’s more, the political and economic turmoil that occurs causes inflation to rise unexpectedly. Plan ahead for financial woes - apply for scholarships!
- The Goldman Fellowship Program is designed to help future political leaders better grasp domestic and foreign policy while studying in Israel.
- Scholarships are awarded annually via the American Jewish League for Israel.
- As a non-profit, the various USAC study abroad scholarship opportunities aim for students to gain international experience -- without breaking the bank.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
Contributed by Daniel O'Kelly
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