American bubble Past Review

By (Religion / Religious Studies, Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/26/2015 to 06/06/2015 with

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Rothberg International School: DanceJerusalem

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Regarding the above question, if I would choose the same program: While I did not enjoy this program and felt fiercely opposed to this country's policies, I am not sure that I would choose a different program. While perhaps another program would have been less devastating, it would have been so because I wouldn't have been so exposed to the painful racism and to the occupation that hangs over Jerusalem. Therefore, I think that my experience at Rothberg - a program housed high on a hill in a bubble of West Jerusalem within East Jerusalem, and with a view of the poor Palestinian village of Isawiyya (talk about contrasts and ironies) gave an invaluable insights. One thing I do regret is having to live with non Israelis/Palestinians.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I liked, at least on a personal basis, almost every single professor I came into contact with. The Hebrew language professors (I had three or four throughout winter intensive and the semester) in particular were excellently trained and did a great job. That being said, the general quality of education -- lectures, materials, "homework" and assessments -- was very, very low, especially in comparison to Middlebury college. This is a program for students looking to party while abroad...

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My "advisor" was a joke. The only real administration present to invest energy and to whom students could go to, doubled as the social events coordinator. He did a good job with the social events and worked hard. Certain issues I had were dealt with efficiently, but on a few occasions, the emergency phone lines were not answered!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We lived in an American bubble - a disaster if you had any interest in actually getting to know Israelis/Palestinians. I had requested to be housed with local students and was told there was no room.

* Food:

We cooked for ourselves - perfectly fine except for the fact that the school provided no cooking equipment whatsoever. Apparently, it's a policy that you cannot leave things in the apartment for future students, God knows why. Inefficient, expensive and idiotic. There is a fridge and a stovetop.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

not. See housing. The administration also made zero effort to integrate us with the rest of the university. The International school has its own building in which all of the classes are held so we had few opportunities to venture to the rest of campus or meet local students.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The healthcare was excellent. I used it on many occasions. However, I dealt with all issues by myself, because my program administrators were totally clueless about the healthcare process. I did not need any vaccines.

* Safety:

Perfectly safe, despite the fact that the school goes to pains to stress that we were located in East Jerusalem, and not to stray into Palestinian neighborhoods. (absolute bullshit). The most threatened I felt was when, on two separate occasions, two different American students with whom I lived, made displays of islamophobic hatred.

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)

Israel is very expensive, particularly food. I also had to buy all of my cooking equipment, which was a massive blow to my bank account, because my flatmates were not interested in sharing.....

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? for produce, go to the Arab Market at Damascus gate, or the Market at Machane Yehuda. There's also an excellent and somewhat cheaper 24-hour supermarket and produce store in Wadi al-Joz, a mere 15 minute walk from the Student Village.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
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? three semesters worth
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? even if Israelis insist on speaking english, speak hebrew back anyway.

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

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • learning to cook for myself
  • the view of Isawiyya
  • Hebrew language courses
* What could be improved?
  • Everything
  • racism
  • housing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had been prepared for the anti-Arab sentiments of my peers

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Palestinian history

Course Department: History
Instructor: Naphez Nazzal
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Nazzal was an excellent lecturer. I deeply enjoyed this class. We were assessed with a midterm and final.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

The history of Jewish Mysticism

Course Department: Religion
Instructor: Eliezer Shore
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was a veritable joke. Dr. Shore is an extremely kind man, and ostensibly quite knowledgable on the topic of Kabbalah, of which he is a practitioner (as well as a rabbi), but he is in no way qualified to teach. I participated in class as mucha s I would have at home. We were assessed with one quiz at the beginning (to test our prior knowledge of the subject), very infrequent homework assignments, and a final paper.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Archaeology of Jerusalem

Course Department: Archaeology
Instructor: Marva Balouka
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Fairly challenging. Balouka was a good lecturer. We had excellent field trips approximately every other week all over the city of Jerusalem. I participated equally as much as I do at Middlebury. We were assessed with two exams.
Credit Transfer Issues: