5 Ways That The Rothberg International School Makes You Feel At Home

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May 28, 2015 by Robyn Croft

RoomiesAs I write this, I am snuggled up in my bed at the student village, sipping on hot tea with cough drops and a thermometer by my bedside. Unlike my previous, maybe slightly naïve misconception that it is simply impossible to get sick during your semester abroad, I am currently learning that unfortunately, that is not true. However, what are the two things that you want when you get sick? The first is obvious: chicken soup. Thankfully, the chicken soup supply is plentiful here, so no problem with that. The second is also pretty obvious: Home. This might seem problematic at first, as how can any other place truly compare to the one you grew up in? After 2 ½ months of studying abroad in Jerusalem, Israel at the Rothberg International School through Hebrew University, I am here to tell you with confidence, even in my germ-y state, that you can 100% fulfill the second criteria, because being a student at the Rothberg International School makes you feel at home.

Here are the top 5 ways:

5. Incredible Madrichim (Counselors): From the day you arrive, Rothberg gives you what everyone secretly wants in life: cool, spunky, caring role-models who give you advice, but are still nice enough to hang out with you and be your friend. Because each of my four madrichim have done this in their own individual way, I want to give specific examples of what makes each of them so great:

Temima: Upon deciding that I needed to see a doctor, I messaged Temima and she immediately responded with the number for the clinic, information about how to schedule an appointment, and most importantly, genuine concern. On top of that, I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes with Temima without laughing hysterically—being around her always brightens my day. We first became friends when we were riding camels next to each other and our camels decided to walk next to each other for the entire time; but that’s a story for another time.

GiladGilad: Not only did Gilad give my friends and me a practical tour of Jerusalem during our first week here (included was his favorite candy shop…very valuable information), but he also has been instrumental in the perfection of my shakshuka. In fact, we plan on having a shakshuka-making competition soon, and if I may say so myself, I make a pretty good shakshuka—he may end up regretting all the tips he gave me when I take him down in competition.

Shirli: One night shortly after we arrived in Israel, we were just sitting around talking in my apartment when we got a knock on our door. Shirli walked in, and was stopping by special just to make sure that we had her number in case we ever needed anything. I remember thinking how comforted I felt just knowing that if I ever needed anything, she’d be there. And she has—when I needed to get to Tel Aviv before the last bus left, she offered to take me with her when her parents came to pick her up for the weekend. It was SUCH a nice gesture and I definitely appreciated it!

Ira:  Ira deserves a medal for the amount of random questions I ask him, all of which he answers not just tolerantly, but happily. Seriously. Not only that, but he is constantly encouraging us to get involved in activities outside of our classes, attend fun events, and take full advantage of our abroad experience. I honestly admire the passion he has for the program, and know that his enthusiasm rubs off on the students—it certainly has on me.

4. Caring teachers: I cannot emphasize enough how amazing the teachers and professors at Rothberg are. Not only are they world-renown and brilliant in their individual fields, but they truly care about your well-being outside of the classroom. At the beginning of my time here, I mentioned to my Ulpan teacher that I was looking for a volunteer opportunity with children. She knew of a gan (preschool) on campus, and insisted on walking me over there after class was out to help get me in touch with the director; volunteering there on a weekly basis has become one of my favorite experiences abroad. Teachers at Rothberg WANT you to do well and succeed both in your academics AND in your personal life, and with their charismatic, smart, nurturing personalities, they make that possible.

Ulpan class

3. Tight-knit community: one of my favorite places to hang out at Rothberg is the café on the second floor, and for reasons that go beyond the oh-so-good nescafe. During our break times during long classes or between classes, many students hang out in the café. Each time that I walk in, look around at my fellow students sitting at all different tables, and realize that I would feel comfortable sitting at any of them, I am reminded of just how close and tight-knit the Rothberg student community is. The students here are friendly and eager to learn about each other’s backgrounds. Furthermore, very few people simply wake up one morning and decide that they want to study abroad in Israel. Rather, each student has a unique story, and we are constantly seeking to learn each other’s stories and continue building our own.

Kfar Life2. The Student Village: Living with other students in the Student Village (only a 15 min walk to campus) has been one of the best parts of being abroad. Quite literally, the student village has become my home here. However, the walls of my apartment contain much more than a comfortable bed and a kitchen; with 4 other roommates from all different backgrounds, the fun-loving, open atmosphere created by the students who live here makes the Student Village a wonderful place to come home to every day. From hosting home-cooked, weekly Shabbats to having conversations with our neighbors across the hall (because of course our doors are always open), the experience of living with other students who are growing in the same personal, academic, and cultural ways that you are is an invaluable one.

1. Your Second Family: What all of this leads to is the formation of what can only be called your “second family” here at Rothberg. From your teachers to your madrichim and of course, your friends, being a student at Rothberg means being part of a special community in which you feel supported and appreciated for who you are. It means having people with whom you can explore the world, challenge yourself, and contemplate life’s most perplexing questions; people who help you thrive, blossom, and change. It means telling your roommates that you’re sick, and having one give you a big hug while the other gets you a popsicle. If this isn’t family, then I don’t know what is.

So, there you have it. Criteria 1 and 2 fulfilled. Guess I’m on the road to recovery!

To check out Robyn’s personal blog with many more stories and experiences, feel free to follow the link: robyncroft.wordpress.com

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