My Time in Palestine Past Review

By (University of Haifa) - abroad from 09/26/2016 to 06/13/2017 with

University of Haifa: Study Abroad at Haifa International School

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
A vast knowledge of how information is delivered to the general public, absorbed, and turned into a collective identity.

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.

I felt extremely unchallenged in my program at the University of Haifa. This was extremely sad to me because out of all the universities in Israel and Palestine it was regarded quite highly in the international and national community, I believe the lack of rigor was due to the professors being primarily adjunct and not prioritizing their classes with international students. The library closed quite early every day, earlier on Shabbat, and was closed on all religious holidays (in Israel, this is a lot).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I felt that the international school, although they tried to be helpful, was extremely chaotic. I really appreciated some of the staff members but they were often unavailable and many times did not have concrete answers to my questions regarding my transcripts and final grades.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorms were quite disgusting and expensive. They were full of cockroaches and many had very low light. I moved off campus my second semester and it ended up being cheaper and much nicer. The university of Haifa is situated on a mountain, beautiful, but also unfortunate that you are stuck there every Friday and Saturday because the buses run infrequently. Although I had to travel back and forth from school every day, I appreciated my time separated from the security and overbearing nature of Haifa's administration immensely.

* Food:

Food in the Middle East is spectacular. Hummus and Falafel are the common favorites and, in my opinion, Haifa has some of the best because of the large population of Palestinians that still live in the city.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

On campus you are completely separated from the rest of the university. If you are interested in an experience where you sit in an international bubble on top of a mountain, this is the one for you. The separation is confusing to me, they try to keep the University on an American school system which is silly because it causes lots of issues for students coming from different countries. It also prevents you from integrating because the international school begins 2 weeks before regular university.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The healthcare was quite good. I had a few days where I didn't feel well and needed to get prescriptions refilled, the health office was extremely nice and quick in making sure I got what I needed.

* Safety:

For Israelis and internationals the city is safe as can be. Before you go to Israel I highly recommend reading up on some of the injustices that Israel causes Palestinians on a daily basis. Reading every day about the terrible things happening in the West Bank and Gaza gives you immense perspective on your privilege as an international person coming into a country that is proving to be an apartheid state. All I can recommend is to not listen to the universities' ridiculous warnings about the danger of going to the West Bank and please, go. The people are important, they matter, and they want to show you what's left of their home. Haifa, all in all, is extremely safe. I never felt unwelcome or uncomfortable there.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

My experiences in Israel and Palestine were nothing short of eye opening. I would never study in an Israeli institution again because of the biased and propagating narrative they deliver and their inability to accept other opinions in the classroom. I also felt that the work I did was not taken as seriously as work in my home university and would not meet requirements there. If I had the opportunity I would love to study at Bir Zeit university in Ramallah or Al Quds university in East Jerusalem.


* 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 a very expensive country. Haifa was manageable but Tel Aviv was unbelievable and had prices in my opinion similar to New York.

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? There are always ways to manage but I can definitely recommend not using the mini market on campus and going down to the Souk in Wadi Nisnas (if it isn't a Sunday) and the Shuk in Talpiyot (if it isn't a Friday / Saturday) The produce is so fresh, the bread in the bakery is half the price of the one closer to campus, and there is a Russian market with really inexpensive cheese and wine.


* 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

I absolutley loved my Arabic course. I learned from an amazing woman named Sarit. She taught my elementary 1 and 2 course in MSA. She absolutley encouraged me to continue which I did, traveling to Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon to practice my conversational skills.

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
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? Travel to a country where the language is spoken. Palestine was exceptional at helping me with my Arabic. Traveling to Lebanon was a bit trickier because their dialect is different and is mixed with English, French and Arabic making it confusing at times. If you want to really study Arabic you should focus on one dialect and try to stay in the area as much as possible.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
  • Other
* 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?
  • Palestine
  • Wadi Nisnas
  • Arabic Class
* What could be improved?
  • Quality of teaching
  • Quality expected from students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The things Israel does to it's Palestinian citizens and to have been more conscious of my privilege in the country my first few months there.

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.'