For those coming to NYU Tel Aviv, here are some of personal takeaways on the program here as well as some tips to prepare for life in Israel.
The NYU Tel Aviv faculty does an incredible job planning trips for students to sites in Tel Aviv, across Israel and even outside of Israel. Namely, each class has planned at least a few trips within Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. My classes have taken trips to Florentin, South Tel Aviv, Yafo, and Jerusalem to visit educational facilities, see the historical context of our academic studies, and chat with locals in the area to get a more balanced perception of the diversity and the conflict here. NYU Tel Aviv also plans overnight trips for all the students to Masada, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, the Lower Galilee, the Upper Galilee, the Western Galilee and Jordan. And they are – incredible.
NYU Tel Aviv is partnered with Tel Aviv University and the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. Through the program, many students take classes at Tel Aviv University or partake in labs and internships in the university as well. I have been taking a class on Digital Aesthetics there, which has helped to integrate with other international students in Tel Aviv. The academic internship program is also exceptional, and has helped match over half the students to a suitable internship site in the greater Tel Aviv area.
Many people think Tel Aviv is high in risk and low in safety, but it is actually a fairly safe city. The site is based in North Tel Aviv, in one of the safest residential areas of Tel Aviv. There have been a few incidents of crime in the area, but the NYU faculty has done an excellent job carrying through on emergency procedures and ensuring that students are aware of when not to go to certain places in Tel Aviv or in Israel. It is discouraged to travel to the West Bank or Gaza through the NYU Tel Aviv program, though many students (including myself) have been and have found that there are ways to safely travel to these regions.
Israeli culture is very direct, fearless and family-oriented. This can come across as aggressive in some cases, or heart-warming in other cases. It depends on where you come from, and what culture you already identify with. Regardless, Israel is a Jewish state so the culture does affect weekly life. Namely, from Friday evening to Saturday evening, public transportation and virtually all restaurants and shops are closed for Shabbat. On major holidays a few times each semester, places are closed for a few days in a row. It is actually seen as disrespectful to open restaurants or shops on holidays. Good to plan in advance 🙂
Housing and Food
Wow, NYU Tel Aviv really comes in at the top here. There is a fully equipped kitchen for all students, as well as catered meals around once a week for events and group meetings. Rooms are excellent, with provided toiletries, towels, bedding, and fridges. The rooms are cleaned, and bedding and towels are washed also on a weekly basis. They really, really pamper us.