It's back-to-school time at Jerusalem's Rothberg Int. School of the Hebrew University, but this year feels different.
By JESSICA FREIMAN
It's back-to-school time at Jerusalem's Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University, but this year feels different.
Perhaps it's because there are three times as many undergraduate international students enrolled this fall as there were in 2002.
This fall's upsurge in enrollment at the school is only the tip of the iceberg, according to Yoel Nesson, director of the school's Division of Undergraduate Studies.
"I'm anticipating an off-the-chart spring semester," he said.
"We've already received over twice the amount of applications that we'd gotten this time last year."
Nesson attributes the dramatic rise to a recent change in policy of many universities abroad.
"As we've moved away from having terror attacks every day, the universities [abroad] have begun to see Israel as being a more stable place," Nesson said. "That has led institutions to once again allow students to study in Israel whereas in the past few years study here would not be recognized for credit by the colleges."
Although there are 271 foreign student undergraduates studying at Rothberg, compared to the low of 94 in 2002, even this number represents a far cry from the one-year program's heyday.
The relative calm in Israel has also affected the opinion of parents who send their children here. Rothberg International School student Sara Cuneo, 20, of Dundas, Canada, said her parents would not have allowed her to study here if the situation was not as calm.
What attracted Cuneo to the Rothberg School was "an opportunity to figure out whether aliya is a possibility, and to experience Israel in a genuine way."
In Canada, Cuneo said, you can't get the variety of courses that are available here in Middle Eastern Studies. She also appreciates living in the capital of the Jewish state.
"I'm able to meet people of varying backgrounds, especially since I'm living in northeast Jerusalem. I've been interacting with Arabs," she said, referring to the opportunities she has to socialize in her ulpan class.
Another factor drew Cuneo to spend a year away from her home institution, McMaster University: a feeling of alienation.
"I've had to put up with groups on campus who equate Zionism with Nazism," she said. "There have also been incidents of anti-Semitism when a group of us were called 'dirty Jews.' Like many Jewish university students, I'm looking for a campus where I feel accepted."