"A Few Things I Learned From My Summer at Hebrew University" by Danielle Klein

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I don’t honestly believe that one can eat enough hummus when in Israel. It’s highly possible, albeit mildly (read: greatly) disgusting, that I ate at least a full container of hummus per day. I am truly proud, and not at all ashamed, that I ate a legendary amount of hummus this past summer, which my friends continue to mock me for. But in my opinion, it was the necessary thing to do.

This was one of the things I learned from studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem this summer. Of course, I learned a lot in class. I learned a lot about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I learned from talking to my peers and being immersed in an environment intensely involved in and interested in discussing the history and politics of Israel. I learned about the Jewish religion and about kabbalistic practices. I even brushed off some of my dusty old day school Hebrew.

But I also learned a lot from just living in the holy land. I learned that there is some decent sushi in Jerusalem. I learned that driving up narrow winding paths to Tsfat in a huge bus might make your stomach sick, but it’s worth it for the artisans and the purple sunset. I learned that you may get a few jellyfish stings if you swim in the Mediterranean at night, and you may get a free beer if you befriend the owner of your favourite shawarma place in Tel Aviv. I learned the anxious joy of hitchhiking and the infinite feeling of overlooking Haifa from the top of the Baha’i gardens with good friends by your side. I learned that it doesn’t really matter what sort of water gun you bring to Tel Aviv Water Wars, you are going to get absolutely soaked anyway. I learned that there is a Museum of Israeli Postal History, and it’s awesome. I learned that my favourite place to write in the world is perched on the Jerusalem stone next to the golden menorah overlooking the Western Wall plaza in the Old City in the quiet hours just before the sabbath comes in on Friday afternoons. I learned that there is a really strange, unexpected music scene in the shuk, and a really fun, wild bar scene in the (not always) holy city. I learned that no walk to Mount Scopus campus from the Student’s Village is complete without a celebratory ice coffee from the cafeteria, and that the Israeli fiction section in the library is really worth perusing. I learned that my favourite spots to study are the benches outside building 1 and the coffee shops around Ben Yehuda street, and I learned that Talk-N-Save may just never stop sending you bills, and I learned that goodbyes are really difficult.

My summer at Hebrew University, in other words, was an enriching experience. I grew a lot from it, and I don’t mean from the copious amounts of hummus I consumed. My summer inspired me. Every day was unexpected; every day included attending classes, sharing meals with friends, filling my journals, responding to emails from home, doing schoolwork, and always, without fail, embarking on some sort of adventure, big or small, with lovely people in a miraculous place. 

Danielle is a student at the University of Toronto. She studied at Hebrew University during the summer of 2012

Photo credit: Danielle Klein

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