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Studying Abroad In Israel: Everything You Need To Know

Studying Abroad In Israel: Everything You Need To Know

Picture of Channa Rifkin
Updated: 9 February 2017
Israel is a very special place to study abroad. Aside from day-to-day student life, there are many things that happen outside of class. Some are hilarious, some wonderful, and others are just plain crazy. Here are seven experiences you’re sure to have while in Israel.

Giving Up on Speaking Hebrew

You think that you’re going to speak Hebrew all day every day, but the truth is that when you enter a restaurant, the hostess automatically knows you’re a foreigner, and will place an English menu in front of you without even asking. You will take it because ‘oh well,’ but also secretly it’s just so much easier. 

However, all jokes aside, when you are on an international program, your classes, homework, and social setting will be in English, French, etc. Your Hebrew speaking time will be limited to telling the shawarma guy what salads you want in your pita. It could be safely said that you will learn every Israeli vegetable and salad name by heart, sometimes even forgetting the name for it in your own language.

© Channa Rifkin|Greg's Café Ice Coffee/גרג קפה קר ביום שישי צהריים

© Channa Rifkin | Greg’s Café Ice Coffee/ קפה גרג ביום שישי צהריים

Makeup Clerks at Superpharm

You finally finish your face wash bottle, so you decide to take a trip to the drugstore. As you peruse the skincare aisle like you have done many times in many drugstores over the course of your lifetime, a makeup clerk will insist that you need her advice. You will look at her and say, ‘No, thank you,’ and she will respond, ‘You will need my help.’ Anyway, you will find the brand you are looking for but notice that the product you need is not on the shelf, so you ask the clerk if she has some more stored somewhere, and she will smile and say, ‘Oh look, you need me after all.’ She will then strongly suggest you buy Dr. Fischer’s Young face wash instead.

NOTE: This same story can be applied to other scenarios, such as picking out nail polish, makeup removing wipes, or perfume. Dr. Fischer’s Young brand will always be relevant. They really want to get rid of that stuff. 

Night Beaching’ after the Club

Experiences like this will teach you how to relax and live in the moment. There’s nothing like a chill on the beach after a crazy time out clubbing, especially when it’s nice and warm. When you are a study-abroad student in Israel, you tend to go out in big groups, and about seven or eight people will stick around for the second part of the night.  Who cares that it’s almost 4am? Try to stay awake to watch the sun rise and take the first bus home. It’s totally worth it.

Courtesy of Pexels | Unsplash

Courtesy of Pexels | Unsplash


Allenby at 3:30am

While on the topic of partying, might as well bring up the notorious Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. You will end up here, and not just during the day to shop at Shuk HaKarmel or to eat Pasta Basta. You will, for one reason or another — whether it be a sudden urge for adventure or on the way to the beach or even just where your night bus picks you up — find yourself there at 3:30 in the morning. Allenby during the day is busy, and for the most part okay. But Allenby after 12am is a little bit more… interesting. This experience is a rite of passage, and no matter how weird it gets, you will have a great night. Just make sure you’re with a mix-gendered group of friends. And don’t look any 50-year-old, homeless-looking men in the eyes. 

You Will Become a Wine Snob

Due to the plentiful wineries scattered all over the Land of Milk and Honey, wine is low-cost and wine tours are popular. You will slowly morph into a wine expert, and you will drink fine moscato with your breakfast, because you can. Most college students have a collection of beer bottles in their recycling bins, but you will have wine bottles in yours. Automatic class upgrade. Plus wine is way better than beer. Thank you, Israel.

Carmel Winery | ©Aviva Stoller

Carmel Winery | ©Aviva Stoller


Friday/Erev Chag

If you grew up in a Jewish community, you got a taste of this, but Israel is one ginormous Jewish community, which means everything closes early before Shabbat and other holidays, and traffic is a topic of stress. As frustrating as that can be, especially if you’re running late with your weekend preparations, it is a beautiful experience. 

Whether you’re in Jerusalem or Holon, you can smell the aromas of cooking and baking from the street, and if you happen to live in a semi traditional or religious area, around sunset you see people walking together, talking and laughing. Many are walking from one side of the neighborhood to the other holding packed dishes to take to their meals. You hear families singing Shabbat blessings and songs together, and it’s lovely. 

Challot for Shabbat | © Rachel Oranim

Challot for Shabbat | © Rachel Oranim

Strong Holiday Vibes

One of the benefits of Israel being a Jewish state means it goes all out when it comes to holidays. It’s like Christmas season all year round. Israelis know how to celebrate, too. Crazy street parties, raves inside the shuks, food, Na Nach dancing, Israeli flags waving, you name it. It doesn’t matter if you are secular or religious, everyone celebrates, and we celebrate together. You’ve never seen Rothschild as crowded as it is on Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut). 

Yom Haatzmaut on Rothschild |© Channa Rifkin

Yom Ha’atzmaut on Rothschild |© Channa Rifkin