Today I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with three Swedish University professors and professors and staff at IDC Herzliya where I attend school. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss potential cooperation between IDC and the relevant Swedish University, and how to better market IDC among Swedish students. Two other Swedish students and I were invited to give our input as Swedish students living and studying in Israel.
Israel may not be an obvious choice for students looking to study abroad. Many don’t realize that Israel offers high quality graduate and undergraduate programs in English for International students.
People in Sweden know very little about Israel, and what we do know, we pick up from the distortions of the media showing Israel as a country associated mostly with conflict and war. In reality, Israel is much more than that.
To guarantee that everyone will always feel 100% safe in Israel would be a lie, because nobody can make such a promise. On the other hand, I would also not promise anyone absolute safety in Sweden, either.
In the almost six years that I have lived in Israel there has been only one month - last summer during the war with Gaza - when I actually felt relatively unsafe in my home in Tel Aviv. Usually, I feel safer than I do back in Sweden for a number of reasons.
I am never afraid to walk home alone in the night in Tel Aviv. There are always people outside, day and night.
Many feel uncomfortable about the security connected to public places and transportation in Israel. However, due to these precautions I actually feel safer. Security here is a top priority, so if and when something happens, everyone is prepared and knows what to do.
So what is it actually like to live and study in Israel as a Swede (a non-Jewish one also, in my case at least)?
The weather is much warmer and nicer than in Sweden for the most part and I can spend my free time on the beach, a five minute walk from my home. Sweden is only a 4.5 hour flight away with Norwegian airlines (my personal favorite).
IDC is in Herzliya, a beautiful city by the beach and a short bus or train ride from Tel Aviv. Overall, nothing is really far away here in Israel. I once drove from the farthest south to the farthest north in about eight hours; that is the entire country of Israel, right there (tiny!). The benefits of living in such a small country is that it’s easy to travel around, and where ever you want to go, it won’t take too long (unless it’s rush hour!)
IDC International School offers a number of complete undergraduate (BA) programs taught completely in English including Business, Government, Psychology, and Communication. They also offer graduate (MA) programs.
I see many advantages of studying in Israel, and in IDC specifically:
1. As part of the International school I study with people from all over the world (really, any nationality you can think of, we have it), and at the moment I am one of seven students from Sweden.
2. As part of the International school, we also get to study alongside the Israeli school.
3. The professors at IDC come from all corners of the world, are well educated and really care about us students. Our professors and teacher assistants do their best to assist us and listen to what we have to say, and care about how well we perform in their classes.
4. IDC provides students with many unique opportunities including the Honors Program in Psychology, which includes writing an Honors Thesis in the third year, something which is not common on an undergraduate level.
5. IDC arranges a lot of fun events for students, on and off campus, including parties, sports, yoga, trips around the country, the International food festival, and volunteering, just to mention a few.
6. IDC provides extra study help for us such as the writing center and tutors.
I have never regretted my choice to study here.
There are many Swedes in Israel, and many of us are in contact via Facebook. We often organize events together such as the annual Midsummer celebration (can you imagine the curious looks Israelis give us when they see a bunch of blonde Swedes dancing like little frogs around a pole with flowers, while drinking Absolut vodka and singing Helan går? It is totally worth it!) And of course, there is always IKEA for when we feel homesick.
Israel provides an interesting and unique combination of ancient history, religion, and culture. When it comes to nature, Israel has a lot to offer despite its size, from Eilat in the South, with coral reefs and dolphins in the Red Sea, the desert and Dead Sea, the hills of Jerusalem, the Mediterranean coast line and Tel Aviv, which also happens to be one of the world’s most gay friendly cities with its beaches, to the green North, with the Sea of Galilee and Mount Hermon, where it’s possible to ski in the winter.
You see, there is far more to Israel than conflicts and camels (although, there are also camels and they are really cute!) Coming here to study, or even just to travel, is something I would recommend to anyone any day, without thinking twice. If you happen to be Swedish (or any other nationality) and are considering going to study abroad, and you are interested in a different experience, consider IDC Herzliya as a wonderful option.
Originally published on Bubble Perspectives.