The happiest I have ever been. Past Review

By (Fordham University) - abroad from 01/25/2012 to 06/08/2012 with

Boston University: Haifa - Language & Liberal Arts Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was completely worthwhile and I learned what it was like to live in a military state under constant fear of attack. I also learned what it means to be a second-class citizen and what living under a military occupation looks like. I learn what it looks like to grow up in a refugee camp. I learn what it looks like to be discriminated against on a daily basis. I learned why people resort to violence to gain freedoms. I learned why people willingly fight for their country and what it does for a society to have every person serve from the age of 18 to 21.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The language classes (Hebrew and Arabic) were rigorous and there was a lot of homework as well, though I think this is fairly true of most language programs. However, the courses were not considered "emersion" programs so the class itself wasn't too long, only 2 hours three days a week (Hebrew was four days a week). The other classes, or at least the ones I took (Arab-Israeli Conflict and Psychology of Conflict) were very manageable and were comparable to the level of academic intensity I experienced at Fordham. Each class had a midterm and then a final paper, and the only other work that was required were the weekly reading assignments

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was helpful, but the hours were sometimes inconvenient. But the administration usually responded to emails in a timely fashion

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The rooms in the Talia dorms were extremely spacious, and each student lives in their own room with their own bathroom, which is part of a larger apartments with 3-6 other bedrooms and a living room and kitchen. They are fairly new so they are all clean, and the views of Haifa from the windows are breathtaking. One thing that is important to note is that there isn't a heater, so it can get extremely cold in the winter and early spring. There is also no AC so it then gets extremely hot in the summer as well. But the program ended before it got uncomfortably hot. I think this would only be a concern if you were doing a summer program.

* Food:

The University of Haifa does not have a cafeteria or a meal plan, though there are a number of restaurants on campus. There is also a small grocery store so you can make your own meals. However, apartments only come with a hot plate, so you have to either buy a microwave and a toaster over or hope that your Israeli roommates already have one. I just always went to my friend's apartment to heat up my food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living with Israeli roommates really helps to feel a part of Israeli culture, but it can be hard if you can't connect to your roommates due to a language barrier. Personally, I did feel integrated into the local culture, but I know a lot of students only hung out with other Americans because they didn't become friend with their roommates.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There is not a health center on campus, so if you get sick you have to travel at least 30 minutes on the bus to get to the doctor. However from what I could tell the health care plan is fine and covers most things.

* Safety:

Security on campus is extensive and I never felt unsafe in Israel in general. Don't listen to the media! Israel is an extremely safe country.

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)

Produce is extremely cheap in Israel, and restaurants were always less expensive than there counterpart in New York. The only thing that messed up my personal expenses was alcohol, because there is a very high tax on all alcohol in Israel so the bars and buying bottles can be very expensive.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Just watch how much you spend going out at night, that was the only issue I had. Also make as many meals as you can at home.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? nothing
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? Speak to your roommates in the local language as much as possible so they can correct you when you make mistakes. Also try to order at restaurants in the local language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • The people
  • Learning two new languages (Arabic and Hebrew)
  • How beautiful Israel is.
* What could be improved?
  • A student cafeteria
  • Better Arabic program
  • More field trips
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That the Arabic program is subpar, and that I would have to make most of my meals.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Course Department: Political Science
Instructor: Zachary Levi
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The course was challenging only due to the topic at hand. We did not go on any field trips, however we discuss a lot about how Haifa related to the conflict and other well known Israeli cities that students were likely to have already visited on their own time. The professor was extremely knowledgeable, but his best quality was his lack of bias. This class could so easily be taught from a very one-sided perspective, and yet he found a way to present both sides evenly and thus made the course all the more enjoyable. I think I was more engaged in the class than I would have been at Fordham, but I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I was living in Israel and wanted to know how Israelis thought of the conflict so I could better speak to them about their own experiences.
Credit Transfer Issues: No, Fordham has a class on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict so the credit transfered as if I took that class.