By Alicia McElhaney
For senior government and politics major Jordan Heiliczer, studying abroad in Tel Aviv was like coming home.
“Being in Israel and Jewish, and having everyone around you who is in the same cultural mindset is great. You feel like you’re home, which is so weird as opposed to going anywhere else,” Heiliczer said.
Heiliczer added that she chose to study abroad in Tel Aviv because her brother lives in Israel.
“I always wanted to study abroad in a place that was meaningful to me,” Heiliczer said.
Heiliczer, along with many other Jewish students in Maryland, chose to study abroad in Israel because of personal connections to the country.
“I decided to study abroad in Israel because I was determined to learn Hebrew,” Mallory Singer, a senior government and politics and criminology and criminal justice double major said. Singer studied in Tel Aviv as well.
While the Jewish population at Maryland is significant (a whopping 26 percent of students), the only semester-long study abroad program offered through the University of Maryland is in Haifa, a smaller city in the outskirts of the country.
Many University of Maryland students like Singer and Heiliczer opt to utilize programs offered through study abroad, but not directly by the school, such as one offered by Tel Aviv University.
“The program in Haifa is our signature Israel program offering – students participating in this program earn resident credit. The program focuses on conflict resolution and diversity in Israel,” Leanne Johnson, the associate director of Maryland study abroad said.
“Haifa is a really nice place,” Heiliczer said. “In Tel Aviv, though, you are more connected to a typical Israeli life.”
While Maryland’s study abroad office complies with this program well, students still hope to eventually have a program offered in Tel Aviv through the University of Maryland.
“Tel Aviv University would be a great school to pair with,” Heiliczer said.
“I loved everything about Tel Aviv University,” Singer said. “I loved the professors. The whole system is more laid back and intimate.”
Until Maryland is able to fully integrate a program in Tel Aviv, students will continue to find their own way in Israel. The only other thing they would change?
“I wish my time in Tel Aviv were longer,” Singer said.