Religion Plus Culture Equals a Great Place to Study Abroad!

Israel is a country deep rooted in history, culture and breathtaking geographical treasures as well as thriving metropolises. Israel is an extremely popular study abroad location for Jewish students as well as history buffs.

With over 75% of Israel’s 7.59 million inhabitants following the Jewish religion it is no surprise that the country offers a pull for anyone looking to study religion. Religious disputes have caused this country to have a history of violence. However, students should not shy away from studying abroad in Israel. The landscape is one that will mesmerize any student living abroad and the experiences are those that cannot be found anywhere else on earth.

  • Participate in a summer study abroad program in Israel and travel through places noted in religious texts, such as the Torah and the Bible
  • Volunteer abroad in the Volunteers for Peace Israel chapter and complete meaningful community service work while living abroad and making new friends
  • Swim in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea or travel to the saltiest water in the entire world, found in the Dead Sea

Where to Study in Israel

Israel offers many different educational options for studying abroad depending on what your focus may be. Hebrew universities such as the University of Haifa offer language intensive programs focusing on learning Hebrew.  Other university options include:

  • The Overseas Student Program at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev offers students the chance to study Hebrew, in addition to choosing from a variety of English-taught courses like political science, history, anthropology, Arabic, arts and literature, global health, and ecology. Courses are often complemented by internships abroad and volunteer projects.
  • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem offers graduate and undergraduate programs for students studying abroad for a semester, a year or for a summer study abroad.
  • If you have never spoken or read Hebrew but want to get fully immersed in the Jewish culture of Israel, Beit Ben Yehuda offers introductory courses to Hebrew as well as weekend trips to get students better acquainted with Israel.

There are many American Universities that offer study abroad Israel options as well:

Modes of Transportation in Israel

Israel has some of the most diverse and changing terrain of any country. Israel hosts coastlines, mountains, deserts, cities, valleys, and everything in between. The regions of Israel are as follows: Galilee, Israeli North Coast, Israeli Coast Plain, Shephelah, and Negev. The metropolitan areas of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are their own separate regions; all of which have different preferred modes of transportation.

  • You will most likely enter Israel through the main international airport, Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. This airport is a great port for both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and offer bus lines and trains to both. Keep in mind that no matter what airport you travel to security will be greater than you normally experience. Routine checks include hand and machine bag inspection as well as personal interviews about your reasons for visiting Israel.
  • Trains and buses shut down their services during the Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) throughout Israel. Therefore, taking cabs or renting your own car is your best bet for traveling during those days.
  • Monit Sherut, or “taxi service”, are minivans that generally follow the major bus routes but can be hailed anywhere and are generally cheaper options than the bus. Monit Sherut also are available through the Sabbath.
  • Israel is known as one of the easiest places to hitchhike in the world! When hitchhiking, instead of a thumb, you extend your hand, with 1 or 2 fingers extended, pointing at the road. Of course, one should always remember health and safety info before doing anything!

Keep in mind that there are certain visa restrictions and requirements in Middle Eastern countries. Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen block passports that have been stamped by Israel. American students traveling abroad do not need a visa to enter Israel; neither do most European citizens.

Exchange Rates for Israeli Currency

The Israli New Shekel (symbol ₪) was established in 1986 after replacing the old shekel and is the official currency of the State of Israel.

Here’s what you need to know about the New Shekel:

  • Coins = ₪½, ₪1, ₪2, ₪5, ₪10
  • Bills =  ₪1, ₪5, ₪10, ₪20, ₪50

You can use a currency converter like the one here on the side bar to compare amounts of U.S. dollars against the shekel.

Where to Wonder in Israel

This cradle of civilization is in the south eastern part of Asia, and borders the eastern edges of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel offers breathtaking seaside views throughout the western border of this country, as well as beautiful mountain landscapes in the east.

  • Jerusalem, located in eastern Israel by the West Bank, offers nighttime tours every Thursday night
  • The 19th century villages of Rosh Pina in the Upper Galilee and Zichron Ya’akov on Mount Carmel offer shops running down the streets selling handmade arts and crafts
  • Spend a night in Tel Aviv and experience the opera, museums, shoreline view of the Mediterranean, theater, world renowned cuisine and old antiques from around Israel
  • Dig in archaeological sites like the one in Tel Megiddo

There are also tons of educational and historical tours in many of Israeli cities.

Important Study Abroad Israel Information

When you study abroad in Israel you should always keep a list of important numbers with you in case of an emergency. Also, be sure to check with your school or program for any additional information you might need:

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