An important aspect of studying away is the opportunity for you to learn more about your chosen host country and how identities may be understood and perceived within this new context. We encouraged you to begin researching some of the challenges and opportunities you may encounter, and plan ahead by identifying people and resources that can help you make the most of your experience away. The information below offers brief descriptions of identity-based topics in Tel Aviv, and Israel more broadly, as well as access to people, resources, and programs you can connect with before and after you get there.
Compared to many of the other Global Centers, Tel Aviv is a pretty expensive city. However, there are ways to explore the city without having to hurt your wallet in the process. There are free sights and events throughout and delicious street food to enjoy. Groceries are about 40.72 percent lower in Tel Aviv than in NYC. Likewise, the cost of airfare and immigration will come out to be around $1,100. These numbers will vary depending on your spending patterns.
Although the infrastructure in some Israeli cities is thousands of years old, many of the more modern developments have included accessibility improvements for the physically disabled. The Israeli government has worked to ensure that historical and cultural sites, hotels, restaurants are fitted with adaptations and services for individuals with disabilities. All buses and railway stations are wheelchair accessible.
Tel Aviv Accessible
Even though Israel can be considered one of the most westernized countries in the Middle East, women aren’t necessarily always treated equally to the degree that you would find in the United States. Many Israelis protest the ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) treatment of women, who are a religious extremist sect that supports segregation of women on public bus lines, insisting that they sit in the back. Female students shouldn’t necessarily be concerned about being mistreated but should be aware that in some rare cases mistreatment does occur.
61 percent of Israelis are in favor of civil unions for same-sex couples, which is legal under Israeli law. It is considered one of the greatest percentages of support in the world. Three-fifths of the population also believe same-sex couples should be able to adopt children. This makes Israel relatively tolerant of homosexuality compared to other Middle Eastern countries. Israel also hosts one of the largest annual gay pride parades in the world.
Race & Ethnicity
Israel’s population is made up of a diverse group of Jewish people who have assimilated in the region from many different geographical areas of the world. About two-thirds of the population is native-born, while the remaining third comes from over 100 different countries. The growing number of migrant and immigrant communities in Israel has increased tensions between local Israelis and newcomers. Incidences of discrimination against the predominately African migrants have subsequently been on the rise.
Religion & Spirituality
The majority of Israelis are Jewish (75.6 percent), while the second-largest religious group is comprised of Muslims (16.9 percent). The third most significant religious population is the Bahá'í Faith at 3 percent and, finally, Arab Christians who make up only 2 percent of the people in Israel. Though the country has seen a growth in the number of organizations focusing their efforts on promoting interfaith understanding and religious tolerance, national policies still heavily favor Jewish traditions and communities.
A Muslim Among Israeli Settlers
Israel’s Religiously Divided Society