Semester in Israel an eye-opening experience

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When asked to write a column for The DePauw regarding my time abroad, I had to first figure out where to even begin.
This semester, I am studying at Tel Aviv University in Israel for the semester. Yes, Israel, that country located in the Middle East that the news often depicts as being turbulent and dangerous.
But let me dispel those rumors now: Israel is a fascinating country that incorporates a rich wealth of history, religion and culture. While there are certain areas that I do not plan on visiting, I must say that I feel safer here than in the states.
Speaking of the U.S., Israel is similar in size to Indiana. Only a six-hour drive from the north to the south, the country has everything from snow to sand. The city of Tel Aviv is located on the Mediterranean Sea. A large shopping mall and newly developed high-rise apartments outside of my flat remind me of the western influence that has shaped the city over the past several decades.
A two-hour walk down the boardwalk leads you to Florentine, an area that tells a completely different story than Tel Aviv. Older, gritty storefronts and homes covered in graffiti line the streets. The air smells of salt and wood due to the city’s industrial roots and close proximity to the beach. Smaller, less touristy towns and cities intrigue me and I hope to invest my free time traveling the country to experience what they have to offer.
During my first month abroad, I have been fortunate enough to meet people from across the globe. There are students from Germany, Russia, Ethiopia and Brazil in my Hebrew class. This makes for an interesting and quite amusing learning experience, as each individual brings something different to the classroom. 
Outside of school, I have also become acquainted with a variety of people. Israelis are far more serious than average Americans, likely due to the fact that they are required to enroll in the military immediately following high school. Regardless of their origin, everyone that I have met has been extremely welcoming and intrigued that I am from Indiana.
The places that I have visited are just as interesting as the people that I have met. Last weekend I toured the Old City of Jerusalem. Thousands of years of history radiate from the large towering walls that surround the Old City. A maze of narrow alleyways and side streets led me through the Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim quarters. Each section contained sacred artifacts and monuments.
Churches, mosques and temples stand together and are visited by locals and tourists every day. Following the tour of the Old City, I saw an enchanting light show and had a great Middle-Eastern dinner that consisted of shawarma, rice and hummus. In summary, the trip was amazing but far too brief.
While DePauw offers a learning experience second to none, I encourage everyone reading this column to study abroad. My journey to Israel is easily one of the best decisions of my life. The opportunity to experience a foreign culture promotes individual growth and opens your eyes to the world around you. I look forward to returning to DePauw next year with great memories, friends and a new outlook on life.

– DuBow is a junior from Indiapolis, majoring in anthropology. He is currently studying abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel.
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