Hello, everyone, I hope you all had a great week! This week has been a little hectic due to the fears of the coronavirus going on internationally. I have received a vast amount of emails from the U.S. embassy, the Israeli embassy, my scholarship programs and my USAC study abroad program regarding the virus. The international school informed us this week that if we are required to return home because of the virus that they will facilitate our classes online to ensure that we finish the semester. This is very nice of the international school to do this, but I hope that it does not have to happen. I love studying here in Israel and would be extremely disheartened if I had to return. I would like to finish off the rest of my semester and continue my Arabic language studies here in Haifa. Additionally, I had planned a trip to visit Tbilisi, Georgia and several cities in Spain but I had to cancel these flights over fears that I would not be let back into the country if I were to visit these countries during my spring break. The Israel Ministry of Health has advised us to avoid all international travel to prevent us from having issues returning to the country.
Besides this news, the rest of the week has been great! The international school took us on a two day trip to Mitzpe Ramon in the South of Israel. We left around 6 am on Friday morning and took a bus to many historic sites across Israel. We visited the burial site of David Ben Gurion the first prime minister of Israel and learned about his life and legacy. We stayed overnight at a Bedouin camp and had a bonfire where we sang songs and roasted smores. During the first day of the trip, the weather was too cold and rainy to hike so we were not able to do much. The weather was much better the second day so we hiked for the majority of the day. The hike was hot and tough but once we completed it I felt a major sense of accomplishment. Overall, I enjoyed the trip and made many new friends in the international school that I did not have the opportunity to interact with before.
I am excited to start the new week because of the upcoming Purim holiday. Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire official who was planning to kill all the Jews, as recounted in the Book of Esther. During this week people dress up in costumes and party all night. My friends and I from the international school are planning to dress up in costumes for a day. I would like to thank you all for reading this week!