The biggest adjustment to life at Hebrew University has been how much independence is required of students here. The majority of non-international students never even live on campus. It’s great to live in the Student Village (Kfar HaStudentim, affectionately known as the Kfar) where students are constantly socializing in big groups on grassy fields. Yet I feel more on my own than I ever have at college in the States, especially as someone who is yet to venture into the world of off-campus living.
This is largely because everything is à la carte. I needed to join the university gym, which cost more than any private American gym I’ve ever heard of. After multiple failures getting to the membership office during open hours, I found out that because of the compulsory university health insurance I needed a doctor’s note that said exactly “Zoe Fox is in good enough health to use the gym.” This may or may not have resulted in me calling my dad from the membership office, “Hello Doctor, I’m studying abroad in Israel and would really appreciate you emailing the athletic facilities that I’m in good health. Thank you Doctor.” After joining the gym I found out that I’d need to pay extra to take classes, which are offered for free at Northwestern.
I had to set up Internet connection in my room through a private company. I spent about two hours on the phone setting up my Internet connection in my dorm room on campus, which comes with no option for provided Internet. I initially tried to do without the additional monthly expense but was finally fed up with the mysterious wireless occasionally available on a nearby playground.
And it gets less and less glamorous. One of my roommates takes about four days to clean her dirty dish which has resulted in the perpetual presence of ants in our apartment. Another roommate put up a sign that said, “To Whom It May Concern: We Have Ants So Clean Up”, which has not had any impact on the dish-washing or our unwanted visitors.
Not all of the newfound independence has been quite so frustrating. I was eagerly anticipating having my own kitchen and learning to cook ever since I found out there was no option for a meal plan. I have been pleasantly surprised with my creations (which only required a few dozen emails back and forth with my mom full of cooking instructions and tips). It’s also been fun to attend potluck dinners at friends’ apartments where everyone brings a container of something with the identical warning, “I have no idea if this is how you were supposed to make insert food here so don’t hate me if it’s gross.” I’m yet to sample any serious failures.