To read and hear more thoughts from students across NYU Locations, explore your options here: http://nyustudentguidescholarshipproj.wordpress.com/
Voices Specific to Tel Aviv:
“Because most Israelis our age are in the army, it can be hard to meet people outside of NYU. So, get involved! Volunteering and interning were really helpful in terms of meeting people.”“I highly recommend sitting in on a class. The course size in Tel Aviv is pretty small because there are so few people in the program, so a lot of professors don’t mind if you sit in on their classes for no credit.”
“Be ready for the intense airport security. They ask you a lot of questions that may seem irrelevant and might search all your bags. Make sure to leave a lot of time before your flight leaving Israel because security can easily take a few hours.”
“I am not Jewish and do not have any family in Israel, but I had the opportunity to go to a Passover Seder with the family of one of our professors, which was a really great experience. I heard that students in other semesters did something similar for Hanukkah. Try to get involved and celebrate some of the many holidays celebrated in Israel. It is a fun way to learn about Jewish tradition and Israeli culture.”
“Go in with an open mind. Being in a place that is so emotionally and politically charges, the way you think about politics, religion, and the conflict will probably change. While my opinion was strengthened by being in Israel, I also gained an understanding of the other side of the argument, as well as some apathy toward their situation, which I think has given me a more accurate impression of the conflict and what is going on in Israel.”
“Israelis tend to be very forward and direct, so don’t be surprised if people seem harsh when talking about your opinions. I was kind of offended at first, but I realized that a lot of people just like to be clear and direct about what they believe in, and most of the time it isn’t personal.”
“I wish I had known that it would be cold in Tel Aviv in the winter. I definitely wish I had brought a jacket and an umbrella.”
“There is no better place in the world to experience a traditional Shabbat than in Israel. Whether you are from reform, conservative, orthodox, or just plain curious, Rabbi Klatzko and everyone at shabbat.com will help pair you with a generous and inspiring family to spend a weekend with. I would go to people’s houses for Shabbos at least once a month during my stay in Tel Aviv.”
“Get an internship! My internship at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel was by far the best part of my experience in Israel, and I learned a lot from it.”
“I wish I had known that we would be living in a hostel. NYU kind of skimped on preparing us before we got to Israel, so definitely ask a lot of questions before you leave.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions!”
“Don’t over pack. Most of the things you can get in New York, you can also buy in Tel Aviv, so don’t worry too much about forgetting things.”
“Flying to Israel is pretty expensive, but I booked a flight that had a 12 hour layover in Brussels going there, and a six hour layover going back. It was kind of a pain, but my flight was about $500 cheaper than most people I compared with, so I definitely recommend being creative when it comes to booking your flight if you are on a budget.”
– Catherine G Cochran
Getting Around: Buying a Bike
originally posted on http://tessaintelaviv.blogspot.com/2011/09/bicycles-and-beaches.html
I bought a bicycle two days ago, and can I just say that bicycles are the best thing ever. Seriously. It is so wonderful to be able to get around the city quickly without getting on a bus or paying for a taxi. And, I have a basket! It looks a little bit silly, though, since the bike is sporty. Also, I love the clickety sound it makes when I don’t pedal.
Yes, it’s a guy-style bike. But I don’t think that you would ever see me on a bike in a dress anyway. Plus, I’m all about the triangles. Also, is the basket not the cutest?
Things about biking in Tel Aviv: everybody is always on the sidewalks, which are wider than in the US. Bicycles don’t do streets here. I really like it because I am intimidated by cars, but I also need to develop my steering skills. I am going to break my face while trying to avoid a head on collision with a Moped and a motorized scooter. But really, I feel like alertness is seriously important for cyclists here.
Speaking of cyclists, there aren’t any serious cyclists. People mostly seem to use bikes as transportation, more than anything else. Actually, much of Israel is making an effort to become a more bike-as-transport-friendly place. See here.
Feel like commenting on the awesomeness that is my bike? I know I would.
Looking to Get Active?
Looking to get active? Tel Aviv has a lively sports life in comparison to the rest of Israel, particularly along the HaYarkon Park area. It is not uncommon to see every basketball court and soccer field busy from late afternoon through the evening. As part of the first NYU student group, I was able to get involved with soccer, softball, and women’s rugby. Out for a run on a muggy September evening, a friendly female soccer player called me aside and invited me to join the game. From meeting just this one Israeli, I was then able to get involved with a soccer team at HaYarkon Park, a rugby team at Tel Aviv University, and softball games at a nearby kibbutz. While it was free as part of Tel Aviv University’s sport program, I did have to take a physical stress test in order to compete in rugby games. The testing process was brief for the priceless social networks that followed, as my team competed against Jerusalem and Haifa. In addition to sports teams, Tel Aviv offers many dance studio and gym options. Along with three other NYU students, I journeyed into the realm of belly dancing and African dance. Not only were the classes great workouts led by talented instructors from Ghana, I am sure we gave the studio a hearty weekly laugh as we attempted to learn the moves. The summer-like weather is more than enough encouragement to get fit and take the opportunity to be active. These are just a few options beyond swimming in the Mediterranean to get your fitness fix, also while building community with the locals.
– Michelle Pomeroy