Things are ramping up at Hebrew U. I have had two weeks of classes so far. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew it would be good but I must say my professors are truly awesome!
… well in general this University is pretty remarkable all around! Hebrew U. is one of the oldest academic institutions in Israel and at the moment it is the best University in the country. This really comes as no surprise when you learn that the University was founded by some pretty sharp men such as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and Chaim Weizman among others, and when your professors end up being some of the most prominent academics in Israel. For the three courses I am enrolled in I have two professors that were former advisers to several Israeli Prime Ministers and had leading policy making roles in government. They lived, saw and acted in the definitive events that shaped this country. My third professor is currently the head of Jewish studies at a major academic institution and his articles are frequently published in news media. The most awesome thing is that my classes are anywhere from 15-25 people so in general it’s a more intimate class setting and I get to have a greater interaction with each professor.
All my professors offer a distinct perspective of Israeli and Middle Eastern society, culture and politics, and all exude a true passion for teaching and really communicating with students. In the two weeks I’ve been in classes I can say that my understanding of Israel and the Middle East has grown exponentially. From the shawarma I’ll have for lunch, to the name of the street I’ll be walking on, to the very view of the Samarian Desert that overlooks my classroom window, these men have helped enhance my understanding of the history of Israel. The rich history and anecdotes that my professors have discussed with us in class has also given me the ability to see everyday traditions and customs within their proper historical significance. If I feel like this in two weeks, I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn by the end of the semester!
The Hebrew U. campus is beautiful too! On breaks I’ve been roaming around and exploring all the different areas of the University. The campus is located on Mount Scopus overlooking the Judean and Samarian Deserts, the Mount of Olives and the Old City of Jerusalem. The grounds include an amphitheater, a botanical garden, some ancient ruins, and lots of green space to relax outdoors, eat lunch or study while enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun. You can even get on the roof of the buildings and study up top while overlooking the Old City or just chill on one of the Rothberg School terrace’s and enjoy a casual conversation there after class.
As I settle into my weekly routine I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the semester. I know it will only get more intense, this week coming up I have two assignments due and a Hebrew quiz, but the feeling of walking down a street of Jerusalem and seeing a familiar historical name and being able to know how to read it in Hebrew and then understand the significance behind it is the coolest thing! In the blink of an eye, all of the sudden, I get transported into the past and I truly see myself at the time in history when the event occurred! I must stay frozen for a couple of seconds or even minutes reliving the moment…then the honk of a car or someone saying “Yala!” (“Lets go” in Hebrew slang) will wake me and I’ll come back to the present! Forget about the DeLorean in “Back to the Future” it’s all about going on exchange!