Reflections on My Time at Hebrew University
By Cody Levine, Jerusalem
My first experience as a Canadian at Hebrew University came in April 2015 as part of a summer course on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at the Rothberg International School. Such was its impact and the influence of that experience that three years later, I returned, this time as a Canadian-Israeli PhD student in HU’s International Relations program in October 2018.
Although I had been to Israel before, on a sponsored organized trip for Canadian Jewish youth in 2011, it was my initial time at Hebrew University that markedly shaped my long-term career aspirations, worldview and desire for further exploration. Unlike other major research-intensive universities around the world, HU provided a human touch, exposing my colleagues and me to different cultures in Jerusalem, organizing trips to various areas Israel, both hotly contested and serene, and ensuring an atmosphere of open discussion and countless unique experiences. In an open and warm Israeli fashion, my colleagues and I saw the realities of life in the country, especially in Jerusalem.
Following the completion of the summer course at Hebrew U and my return to Canada to complete my Masters of Arts in Political Science and International Relations, I realized I wanted to return to Israel.
Six months later, I hopped on a plane and made Israel my home. It was then that I began my journey as a Canadian-Israeli, learning Hebrew, integrating into the wider fabric of Israeli society, and even joining the Israel Defense Forces as a lone soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer in the International Cooperation Unit. It was there that I learned first-hand the complexities and nuances involved in understanding conflict generally, and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute specifically.
While my path may seem unconventional and outside the norm for most, it was nevertheless first sparked by my experience at Hebrew University. Upon completion of my military service, I returned there to begin my PhD studies under the tutelage of the same professor who taught our course on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in 2015, Prof. Arie Kacowicz. This time, my HU experience was not merely a three-week course, but rather an important and ongoing part of my life and long-term aspirations.
To those considering studying abroad at Hebrew University, it will be an experience that you will keep for a lifetime, no matter wherever you end up in the world.
Cody Levine is a news editor and journalist at The Jerusalem Post. He is also a PhD Candidate in HU’s Department of International Relations.