3L shares experience as exchange student in Israel
By Shana Kalil (3L)
As a “Double Gator,” I have seen everything Gainesville has to offer. Fortunately, the Levin College of Law offers study abroad opportunities for its students. When I heard about these programs, I jumped at the chance to explore the world while continuing my legal education. I enrolled at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for my 2L Summer semester and Tel Aviv University for my 3L Fall semester.
I split my 2L Summer so that I was able to work for the first half and then depart early to start my study abroad program. In the beginning of August, I started a summer session at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Ulpan (an intensive Hebrew course). Levin College of Law recognizes up to 6 foreign language credits toward your law degree if you attain a grade of B+ or higher. The course was one month long, 5 to 6 hours a day, and 5 to 6 days a week. It was incredibly difficult, but also very effective. I was able to attain enough proficiency to travel, shop, and converse with the locals in their native language. While English is spoken by the majority of Israelis, they appreciate the effort of foreigners in learning Hebrew. While at Hebrew University, I lived in the dormitories with 80 other foreigners and our Israeli madrichim (guides) who helped us learn the inner workings of the city. We bought fresh produce and baked goods in the bustling market called Mahane Yehuda Shuk. The madrichim also helped us to navigate the maze of the Old City. Every week I visited the Muslim Quarter to get the best hummus in the city, and then passed into the Jewish Quarter to see the Western Wall. On Friday nights, groups gathered at the Western Wall to sing, pray, and visit with friends while welcoming in the Sabbath.
Due to Israel’s small size and location, it is easy and relatively inexpensive to travel within the country and to Africa and Europe. I traveled from the north in the Golan Heights to the southernmost beach town of Eilat, and saw everything in between. From Eilat, I crossed over into Jordan and visited the ancient city of Petra, which was made famous by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. I also traveled to Barcelona, Spain where I saw the architecture of Gaudi, enjoyed daily paella, and watched the Barcelona soccer (or futbol) matches.
Due to the heavy concentration of Jewish Holidays in September and October, my semester at Tel Aviv University did not begin until November. Just before the start of classes, the school organized an orientation where we met the other exchange students as well as our Tel Aviv “buddies.” TAU pairs each exchange student with an Israeli law student. The “buddy” will help integrate the exchange student into Israeli society and school life, and will even help in the somewhat difficult search for housing. While many students live in the dormitories of TAU at Ramat Aviv, it is more popular to live downtown near the beach, night life, and markets. While at TAU, I took classes in English that involved American law, international law, and comparative law. The Levin College of Law records study abroad and foreign language courses on your transcript as pass/fail.
The time I spent on my study abroad program in Israel was amazing. I truly made life-long friends and lived an adventure.