Farewell, Dance Jerusalem
This program could not have been more fitting for me. Sure, there are a lot of study abroad dance programs out there and there are even more study abroad programs that include communications studies. However, no program combined academic studies and dance studies with the same amount of freedom as this one did. I mean, I’m majoring in Communications and minoring in Dance so it was quite perfect for me as far as earning credits go.
I won’t lie, the Communications classes that Hebrew U offered in English were quite few. Yet, I really enjoyed my Producing Video Clips with Archival Footage class. As boring as the title may sound, I found it very interesting to create a mini-documentary about the Hebrew University using archival material since I’ve only ever edited with footage I’ve taken. We got to use documents and videos from the official Hebrew U archive as well as from the Steven Spielberg Film Archive. After learning about the history of the establishment of Hebrew U, my time there became much more meaningful. For the project I was put with 2 Israelis who are also Communication students. At first, I was really nervous about speaking Hebrew with them but Israelis are so warm and personal right when you meet them that after a few meetings, we were all friends.
The dancing part of the program was also really great for me. We got to choose how many classes to take and which ones we wanted. As great as the Dance Department as Western is, I loved finishing my minor with new teachers and styles that I wouldn’t have been able to take there.
Although my program ended, I will be staying in Israel for the summer doing an internship at a startup in Tel Aviv. However, I’ll take this time to reflect on my study abroad experience while it’s still fresh in my mind:
What have you missed most about the United States? What will you miss about your host country when your return?
For starters, living in Jerusalem made me really miss ethnic food and transportation on Saturdays. I understand that Israel is a Jewish state, and that Jerusalem is about as Jewish as you can get, but it was very hard for all us to fully comprehend and abide to the concept of Shabbat, no stores or transportation. To deal with this, we’d either have picnics with our friends or escape to Tel Aviv where way more things are open. In addition, I realized and missed how easy it is to get the simplest things done in the US. For example, opening a bank account, picking up a package or exchanging a pair of pants takes forever in Israel. I’ve probably gained way more patience for such trivial tasks.
What will you miss about your host country when your return?
Not only will I miss the amazing beaches, delicious chummus and unforgettable nature, but also the warm and friendly people. I’d say the culture between people is more European than American. Here, instead of shaking hands with someone you just met, you usually hug them. I’ve had people whom I met for the first time call me “chaim sheli” or “mami”.Technically they mean “my life” and “baby” but there aren’t any translations to what we use in English as terms of endearment, which just goes to show how personal and caring the people are here. I’ve gotten into personal and sentimental conversations with strangers, gotten help from people on the street and have even done favors for some I’ve never met, something that would not happen in the US. Of course, there are Israelis who will yell at you and honk at you on the road, but for the most part, there is such a warm familial feeling between the people here, something very special and unique to Israel.
Do you think you’ll experience reverse culture shock when you return?
I don’t think so however, I don’t think anyone expects to. There will be things that will be hard to adjust back to, such as being polite…that does not exist here. As much as I got used to living here and connected to my inner Israeli, I am 100% in my being and core, American. I feel like I won’t get to talk about or share my experience with people. I think that not only do people not really want to hear about it, but also it is very hard to describe such a personal and a “you had to be there” experience. I think that my blog has helped me share what I’m experiencing and how it affects people, and those who wish to know what I’m to are able to.
How do you plan to keep your study abroad experience as a key factor in your life?
Something I had to push my self to do constantly while abroad was trying more things on my own and by myself. Even if it was just spending a day in Tel Aviv or going to get to new sunglasses, spending time by myself figuring out and acquiring different things in a new place and in a new language was my daily goal. I think these are challenges that I’d like to continually incorporate into my life back home. As far as maintaining my Hebrew goes, I’ve already bought 3 Roald Dahl books in Hebrew to help me keep learning new words when I get back.
Although I still have about 2 months left here, it is going to be very hard for me to leave this place; I feel like I’ve just begun to settle in and that there is still so much more to see and do. Also, spending time living in another country, and visiting other ones while I was here, has made me crave seeing more new places and cultures. I’ll admit I have thoughts about returning after college to do my masters or something, however I think I’d like to go back to the US, finish my degree and take a break from school for a bit to see more of what’s out there.
Until then, I’ll be soaking up as much sun and as much jellyfish-filled sea water as I can before I head back to cold and rainy Washington.