Sunday, June 26, 2011

Study Abroad: What to Pack

I didn't get this post up in time to help the first Summer session students but hopefully this will help the next group of incoming students. Rothberg International School does list items it recommends you bring on its website here. Much of this post is just going to be my commentary on their list with a few additional items I think should be added. First thing to mention dress is very casual here. Even for the graduate students you can wear jeans and t-shirt to class. That was a suprise to me when I was getting ready to come to Israel. I know if I was attending grad school in the states I would likely have to dress up.

  • Shoes- I brought a pair of hiking shoes, a pair of winter boots,two pairs of sandals, and a pair of slippers.
  • Coats- I brought my winter coat,a rain jacket and several cardigans. Even if you are just coming for the summer bring a cardigan or two. It can get rather chilly at night. Sometimes you need a cardigan to study in the library if the air conditioning is on.
  • Umbrella- If you are just studying for the summer you likely won't need this. Winter is the rainy season here.
  • You need sunglasses and a hat. These are must haves for Israel during the summer.
Books: Note that this is for students in the MA program The Bible and the Ancient Near East
  • Brown Driver Briggs(BDB) Dictionary-Even if you have it on your computer you still need a physical copy. Some professors will let you use the dictionary on a test but they won't let you use the computer version.
  • Gesenius Hebrew Grammar- Several of the professors use this in their course. It's also just a good reference to have. This one can be on your computer. I've never had a professor let me use this on a test.
  • Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia(BHS)- This is the main Hebrew text the professors use here. You need a physical copy of this book as you will be allow to use an unmarked copy on some tests. 
  • Modern Hebrew/English Dictionary- This helps with the Modern Hebrew requirement. There are some decent dictionaries available on your ipod as well.
  • English pocket Bible-You need a clean unmarked English Bible. You are allowed to use an English Bible on the archaeology exams. You can substitute a pocket Jewish Publication Society copy but you will still need to bring the BHS. In one of my archaeology classes I actually needed to quote from the New Testament so you might want to consider having a copy of that as well.
  • An Israel travel guide is also helpful. I have one titled Let's Go Israel which has been helpful so far. 
School Supplies: You can buy most of your school supplies here.
  • If you want a day planner in English bring one. The only ones they sell here are in Hebrew.
  • They do not sell regular folders here. If you want regular folders bring them with you.
  • Binders here only have two rings instead of three. Just in case that would bother you. :)
Bedding and Towels: You can buy this stuff here
  • Wash cloths can be hard to find so you might want to bring one
  • I brought a sleeping bag to use as my comforter. It packs small and doesn't weigh much.
Electric converters/adapters: The current here is 220 volts, 50 cycles. I bought my converter and adapters at home. You can buy two prong adapters fairly easily here. However the three prong adapters that you need for most computers are hard to find here.

Computers: If you need a new computer buy it before you get to Israel. If you buy it here you will have to pay tax on it. If you have a new computer shipped here you will have to pay tax on it. I definately recommend bringing a computer with you. There is free wireless internet in the Boyar building. You might want to look into how you could get your computer repaired if something goes wrong with it in Israel. Bring your warranty information with you. I had a problem with my computer last summer and it took quite a while to figure out who I needed to call and what could be done for my computer. My computer model isn't sold here in Israel so the part had to be ordered from Europe which took a long time. If you have a Mac there is only one Apple store in Israel and it is in the mall in Tel Aviv. If you need repairs on your Mac I think they have to send it to Europe. You might want to give your computer a checkup to make sure its okay before you come to Israel.

Medicine:If you take prescription pills bring enough with you for your entire stay. Or you will need to work out a way to get your medicine while you are here. I don't think the pharmacies will honor an American prescription but I don't know for sure. You need to bring a basic supply of over the counter medicine. Over the counter medicine is not sold in the grocery store here. Over the counter meds are sold in the pharmacy.

Random Tips:
  • Toiletries are expensive here. However bringing large bottles of shampoo and other products can take up a lot of weigh in your suitcase. I brought sample sizes to use until I could get to the grocery store.
  • If you wear make up bring your own. Make up is very expensive here. The brands that you buy in Wal-mart at home are sold in the pharmacy here. The make up sections have representatives from the company that stand in front of the display, they are paid on commission and won't leave you alone to just look. And most of them speak English so saying you don't know Hebrew doesn't work. 
  • Sunscreen here smells funny and is more oily feeling you might want to bring some from home. 
  • When packing take everything out of the packaging in order to save as much weigh as possible.
  • Bring a flashlight. There have been a few times where the power in the apartment went out and I needed one. Also if you plan on visiting Hezekiah's tunnel you will need one.
  • Laundry bag- The laundry facities are only in building 2 which for me is across the student village from my building. I've seen some people using their suitcases for the same purpose. Don't leave your suitcase in the laundry room though, it won't be there when you come back.
  • Stain stick-In the states I've never really needed one of these, here in Israel I must be a dirt magnet or something. I'm always finding stains on my clothes that I have no idea what they came from or when they happened.
  • If you drink coffee you might want to bring a french press and a bag of coffee. You might also be interested to know that they don't really have coffee creamers here. Coffee is usually had after a meal and because of kosher laws if you had meat for your meal you can't have cream in the coffee afterwards.
  • Bring a good backpack. I just grabbed a random backpack from my closet and threw it in my suitcase. I didn't realize the backpack I grabbed was from middle school and the inside lining had deteriorated. I had to get it replaced. I now have a sturdy backpack from L.L. Bean. It has a padded back and shoulder straps. This comes in handy on days when my backpack weighs close to thirty pounds. 
That's all I can think of for now. I hope it was helpful. If you are a new student and have questions feel free to ask them in the comments section. I may come back and edit this post if I think of anything else.

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