I have been in Israel for the past 4 months studying at the IDC in Herzliya (just North of Tel Aviv) and I have loved immersing myself in Israeli culture. Being half-Israeli and visiting once a year I thought I had been everywhere, but now living here I am really getting an insight into the real Israeli life and all the amazing sights the small country has to offer. These are my top 10 reasons to study abroad here:
- The weather
Israel’s climate tends to consist of 3 months of winter (mostly sporadic storms and torrential rain) and the rest of the time it is sunny ranging from 19 degrees to the 30s, and even 40s in the desert. This means come the end of March, until mid-November, the beaches are packed with Israelis and tourists soaking up the sun. Below is a photo of Tel Aviv beaches in January.
- The culture
Israeli culture is one of a kind. It is a country where I think in places East meets West, especially in certain cities such as Jaffa. This is something I have come to love and appreciate. A relaxed, liberal vibe exists in Tel Aviv as the hub of opportunities. Whereas, somewhere such as Jerusalem is a religious, spiritual place for the three Abrahamic faiths. A few things to know about Israeli’s, they tend to be rude, loud, direct and the concept of queuing is not something anyone has come to terms with. Politics is debated at every possible point and the conflict is ingrained in society.
- The nightlife
The nightlife in Tel Aviv is definitely a reason to come and study in Israel. It has something for everyone whether you want something similar to a Leeds night out at Beaverworks or you would rather dance to chart music (including Israeli hits). There are also outdoor bars for a more chilled night on every main street of Tel Aviv. I would personally recommend the bars behind the Shuk (Market) HaCarmel or in Old Jaffa.
- Tel Aviv
Before I came to Israel this time I was sure I didn’t like Tel Aviv because it’s too busy and full of tourists. However, I was very wrong. I spend a lot of my time in Tel Aviv going from independent café to relaxed outdoor bar. It is very easy to lose track of time as you stroll down Rothchild Boulevard and end up at a bar on Allenby Street getting into deep conversation with the table next to you. The street art on every corner tells the story of this young country and the psychological hardships of living in uncertainty. However, the bohemian, alternative vibe reverberates through the young city and creates almost a utopian life you never want to leave.
Travel is a reason alone to come and study in Israel. You can easily travel the country through public transportation and due to its size it is very quick to get to most places throughout Israel. There are so many cities to visit such as Jerusalem, Haifa, Eilat. Then the Negev desert is perfect for hiking, as well as the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. With biblical traces throughout the country, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jericho are also places to visit. Furthermore, Petra is just across the Jordanian border and a place I intend on going before I leave.
Diversity in Israel between Arabs and Jews and then secular and orthodox is a large part of Israel. When my friend came to visit she was shocked at how diverse the country was, believing it was only Jews (an orthodox ones) everywhere! Israel has a large Arab-Israeli population consisting of both Muslims and Christians. It is amazing to see in places such as Haifa both Jewish and Arab communities living side by side.
- The food
The food in Israel is something else. 1 kilogram of hummus costs only £2! One thing I will find very hard to leave is the Israeli/ Middle Eastern cuisine. With most restaurants and cafes being independent, especially in Tel Aviv, I have really been able to take in the variety of good food on offer.
- First hand insight into the conflict
For those not familiar with Israel and never visiting the region before, this is a perfect place to get an insight into the conflict. The IDC offers many courses on the conflict and I have based my studying on learning from famous politicians about their role in the conflict. Moreover, you can go on tours of the West Bank yourself to see both sides and most Israelis would be happy to engage in conversation on their views.
Another city I believe is a standalone reason to study in Israel. I spend a lot of my time here and volunteer every week in Jaffa. You have the tourist area of the Old City which is gorgeous and then you have residential Jaffa. I believe Jaffa is what Israel is all about- the coexistence of Jews and Arabs and if you want to spend time in Israel I recommend volunteering for the Jaffa Institute which aims to better the lives of deprived Jews and Arabs.
Lastly Israel is a country full of opportunities for students. The IDC offers internships with many great organisations. Also with start-ups being a very big thing in Israel, there are a number of opportunities to gain experience in high-tech. Equally, volunteering opportunities are extensive and cover everything from working in a hospital to teaching kids English.
I hope I have shown the best of Israel through this post and you consider it as a study abroad choice!
Written by Hannah Nagar – IDC Herzliya, Israel