Seven Reasons to Discover Israel with Haifa International University
Let me tell you, in seven small snippets, how I spent my senior year with Binghamton University exploring Israel through the SUNY Albany International Program at Haifa University. The story in full is of epic proportion and depth. Complete with dub step raves, sushi bar escapades, and adventures to Jerusalem, Matsada, Jericho, Petra, and Tzfat, just to name a few. However, to adhere to the principle of brevity, I will deliver seven windows on my experience studying in Israel at Haifa International University!
Yam l’ Yam
The first trip that the International University of Haifa took us on was a three day hike from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee. The whole of Israel is dotted with trails for hikers. One could travel from Eilat, the southeast corner of Israel on the Red Sea, to Kiryat Shmone in the north east corner of Israel. The trip took us to old Crusader castles, the mountains near the Lebanese border, Mt. Meron, and eventually the Sea of Galilee at the town of Nof Ginosar. We were treated to starry skies by night and the sweet Israeli country side by day.
Rich Academic Programs
The academic character of Haifa University is complimented the Younes & Soraya Nazarian Library, and the Hecht Museum. The courses offered through the International University are all in English. There are under graduate level courses in Psychology, Communication, Economics and Management, et al, a thorough language faculty teaching Hebrew and Arabic, and thirteen different MA programs. The university regularly hosts conferences, and lectures on Middle East topics and they have a cadre of experienced professors.
Club Med Campus
Haifa is situated on the Mediterranean coast line about one third of the way down from Israel’s border with Lebanon. The University is surrounded by Carmel National Park and affords spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea. There are inviting trails for hikers and joggers right across the street from the campus, and a full gym complete with tennis courts, a basketball court/indoor football field, and ping pong tables. There is also a store on campus, and a Druze village and market a short taxi ride up the road.
The port city of Haifa has a diverse market place with every kind of Middle Eastern fruit, vegetable, spice, and seasoning. A short distance from the market place is Masada Street, the heart of Haifa’s artsy, hip, eclectic community. Masada Street sports a host of cafés, pubs, restaurants, and a sweet little Sushi Bar. Carmel beach, a short bus ride from the market, offers fun in the sun with beach sports, rave music, and the relaxing sound of the ocean. Haifa is also known for its Baha’i Gardens. The symmetrical terraced gardens overlooking Haifa’s German Colony are a must see for anyone visiting Haifa.
Explore Israel <3
During extended weekends and school breaks I would go off exploring Israel and nearby Jordan. Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tzfat, the Dead Sea, Matsada, Petra, et al. A person can easily travel throughout the country on the Egged Bus lines, a remnant of the socialist beginnings of the Israeli state. My adventures took me from the mystical town of Tzfat in the north through Nazareth and into Jordan. There I visited Petra, the Roman Coliseum of Amman, and the Dead Sea. The International University also hosts numerous trips to throughout Israel. On one such trip to Eilat, our guide took us to a vantage point where we could see Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. If I had five hundred dollars and thirty days I would spend it traveling through Israel.
Internship with House of Grace Church
Israel turns out to be a very philanthropic nation. There are ample opportunities to contribute ones time and energy to different projects. The International University facilitates a variety of internship opportunities with the Haifa community. During my last semester at university I performed an internship with the House of Grace in Haifa. The House of Grace Melkite Catholic Church provides a variety of services and a place of worship for the community. Kamil and Agnes Shahade renovated the church in 1982 to provide a halfway house for released prisoners. They have since expanded to host holiday festivals, food and medicine assistance, and social activities for children.
Friends around the World and Memories
The most valuable gifts from my time in Israel are the people that I met and the friends that I made from around the world. The memories, imagery, emotion, and rich experiences from my trip in Israel are like gems that continue to grow with every passing day.