Monthly Archives: January 2011

Israel: Geography 101

Israel compared in size to Sacramento.

As more people found out what my plans are for the next semester, I have gotten a lot of questions about Israel. People have been fore mostly concerned with my safety (a future post will be devoted to why I think this is the wrong question to ask), followed closely by curiosity about Israel’s geography and climate.

My friend Curtis asked me the other day how big Israel was in relation to the US. I recently found a wonderful website that beautifully answered this question. So for your veiwing pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: If it were my home dot com. Check out the map that places Israel on top of the US! (Also, as an added bonus some other fun standard of living comparisons.)


Hitting the Paper Trail

A few days ago, I dealt with the last major administrative hurdle to my study abroad experience – the Visa. The process of securing a visa into a country is the first major interaction a foreigner will have with a country’s culture. You can tell so much about a country by this process. There are 3 major points I have observed about Israel so far from this process.

#1. Strikes are an institution. I called the Isreali Consulate in San Francisco to ask some questions before I sent in my visa paperwork. The woman I spoke to told me to wait till I get to Israel to get my student visa. She said there was some sort of strike occurring. The resigned tone she had on the phone told me that this is something that happens with some frequency.

#2. Lost in translation. As I filled out my visa application, I became vaguely frustrated with a lack of specificity in the instructions. For example, in the visa application there is one section entitled: permanent address abroad. Is this my address in my home country or my address abroad in Israel? Maybe it makes more sense in Hebrew. I guess it makes more sense when I think about Israel being considered a homeland for the majority of the people who are seeking to obtain non-tourist visas.

#3. Short days and weird hours. My friend Eytan warned me about this. He told me that Israel operated on a 4 day work week because of the holy days of the various religions. The consulate office had the strangest hours. They are open M-F but only operate between the hours of 10am-3pm. America has spoiled me into feeling entitled that everything should be open 24hrs 7days a week (aka: if I want to get a student visa at 3am on a Sunday I should damn well be able too).