I rushed up the stairs of the main building, hot coffee splashing against the sides of my large cup, and took a deep breath before walking into my first class. I was five minutes late because of the insanely long line for coffee that afternoon, but I knew I would need it before my three hour lecture. Upon my entry into class I found several students with their laptops out, coffee in hand, and eyes eager to get started – but I didn’t see a professor. About ten minutes later, a largely-built man with a scruffy beard and a kippah on his head walked in with freshly brewed coffee. “Hey guys,” he said casually, and proceeded to connect his laptop to the projector. This was definitely not a typical first day of class introduction. He informed us that everything we would need, our main textbook, recommended textbooks, supplemental readings, and articles would all be found in his classroom Dropbox folder. “Why make you go through all of the hassle of tracking all of these down yourself?” he asked rhetorically. It was music to my ears. As it turned out, a majority of my classes operated in a very similar manner; simply granting online access to all of our readings, not wanting us to fuss with printed copies of texts. Although digital texts are convenient, I often miss the feeling of pages and hand written notes that would normally fill my books. I now scroll through electronic pages and have several windows open at once to go through all of my books simultaneously.
My laptop is my life source here in Haifa. I use it for everything from Skyping with my family at home, Netflix when I find free time, leisure reading, and homework assignments. About halfway through the class our instructor announced that we would, “pick up after the break” and advised us all to go one floor up for five-shekel cappuccinos. Coffee is a very large part of not only the college culture but Israeli and Arab society in general. We stood around at the café for about fifteen minutes just giving our brains a break. He joined us during our break, got to know us a bit, and listened to our thoughts on the first half of the lecture. We reconvened into class and finished out the day’s topic. He advised us to read a few articles in the Dropbox for the sake of better understanding the lecture material – and that was it!
With no official homework assignments from most of my classes, time management has become essential here at the University of Haifa. Our lectures are held once a week for three hours and we’re given large assignments over long periods of time. It’s imperative that we have a calendar to keep track of deadlines. Another thing that makes time management difficult is the Israeli schedule. Operating as a Jewish State, Israel observes the Sabbath day of rest, as well as the evening prior known as, Shabbat. This means that from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening stores and commercial shops under Jewish ownership are closed – including public transport. Sunday through Thursday must then be utilized to their fullest potential. Work, study, grocery shop, go downtown, have a nice dinner, see a movie, and cram for tests, because for two days every week the focus is on rest and reflection. It took me a while to get used to this, but now I don’t know what I’ll do without it!
Jael is a CSULB student that is currently abroad on our CSU IP program studying at the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel. Thanks to her fun and insightful blog post we’ve been able to take a look at an aspect of student life at an Israeli university. If you have interest in knowing more about this specific program or our CSU IP programs in general please reach out to us and check out the two links below!