Peace-loving and environmentalist's dream for bonding and learning in the desert Past Review

By (Fishing and Fisheries Sciences and Management, University of Washington) - abroad from 08/25/2015 to 01/02/2015 with

Arava Institute for Environmental Studies: Hevel Eilot - Study Abroad in Israel

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I have an eternal anchor in the region now and continue to visit my friends there. I cook their meals when I miss it and play the music when I want to remember. I continue to live my life with the inspiration and mentality of the Arava and despite how distant it was from the rest of the society of my country, I will always cherish the connections i had to the people who lived there. To improve my experience I would have studied more of my own accord and visited the main Ben Gurion University to gain additional education.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The program topics were very intriguing for an environmental perspective. Certain teachers did require a rigorous investment of studying, research and discourse. However, the overall standards for academic rigor were lower than at my home University.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very attentive, excellent availability, fine-tuned to suit student needs.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Extremely comfortable desert suites with one or fewer roommates.

* Food:

Food was prepared communally in the community dining hall. Eventually we would tire of these familiar dishes. When we students tired of this, we used out home kitchens to prepare meals together with ingredients and recipes from our home countries. Many of the dishes I continue to use today in fond memory of my time with them.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We ate and lived in a local community of 400, of which the vast majority spoke English. However, our isolation in the desert region of the country made it difficult to leave the community to larger cities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

All preparations were made to enter the program in good health. A doctor on the site ensured that any occurrences of health issues could be addressed immediately.

* Safety:

Our location had no crime as it was a self-organized rural community. Neighboring countries were, however actively at war and refugees from those wars were safely housed in our community.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

All expenses were provided for in the program, and tuition cost less than my home University.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $15 - optional transportation for excursions
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bring sunblock from home. Bottles there are smaller and the desert is hot!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

A course was provided in a language of the country in which we lived (Hebrew, Arabic). We socialized all together in various languages on a regular basis as well. However, due to the international nature of the program and variety of speaking abilities of the students, English was the main language and there was no requirement to speak anything beyond that.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Hebrew Reading and Writing 2
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Listen to music and learn the lyrics. Then, try basic conversation despite the embarrassment it brings. Don't try to learn to read Arabic or Hebrew immediately as the unique alphabets make them difficult.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • International Friends
  • Environmental Electives
  • Real-world experiences
* What could be improved?
  • Integration with the local community
  • Group transportation out of the village on holidays
  • Availability and rigor of basic transferable coursework
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Life isn't easy for those who come from warring countries. They need you to read about their situation and listen to their experiences before you pass judgement.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'