This was the last week of classes at Tel Aviv University, and it definitely feels like it is all coming to an end. We had our final overseas program dinner on a rooftop restaurant in the Old City of Jaffa, where the entire group met for a final time. We ate at a family owned famous restaurant called Abulafia, which is famous for its quality cuisine in Jaffa. We were given endless plates of the best Mediterranean food… I was in heaven!
Later that night, we hung out at the beach altogether for a final time. It was nice to relax with friends after completing our summer classes together. Our business class just ended, and we had a final exam at the end compiling all of the different ideas and concepts we learned in class and demonstrated through our group presentations. I found that working in the specific entrepreneurship groups to design a product that ran highlighted the several business models was extremely beneficial. I hope that more of my classes back at UF can have this project dynamic to apply the skills that we learn through lectures.
We have also been busy writing our 12-page final history papers for the History of Tel Aviv class, and while writing the paper, I would look out of my Israel window longing to be outside and traveling, but instead, we were cooped up at the library doing our research. Luckily, Stephanie and I finished the majority of our papers ahead of time, enabling us to travel to a few final sites before we depart for the United States. In the last two days, we traveled to Caesarea, which is an ancient Roman town half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa. I learned that several civilizations seized this land, and it while climbing the ruins, it didn’t feel like we were in Israel at all. We explored the old hippodrome, the Roman baths, the old palace and a restored amphitheater where exclusive artists perform today.
Today we traveled to Acco, another historical site that had a rebuilt tunnel showing the link from the port to the ancient fortress. We walked through the Turkish market and examined the ancient lighthouse on the shore of the port. The Acco tour was rushed because we had to catch the last train back to Tel Aviv in time for Shabbat, when all public transportation stops until Saturday night. We finished our basic tour of the city, but we needed to find a taxi driver to take us back to the train station for our train leaving at 3:30. We exited out of the main area and found ourselves lost and without any available taxis in sight. It was 3:05, and we rushed to ask some locals if any of them knew of a taxi driver in the area that they could contact. After about another five minutes of panicking, a taxi driver drove up. We flew into the cab and yelled “train train!” but he did not understand English. The cab driver put his English-speaking friend on the phone who properly translated “Train” to “Tren?” and the cab driver eventually understood. By this time, it was already three twenty-something, and I was scared to check the exact time on my phone. We made it to the train station and raced up the series of stairs to the platform where our train would enter. Stephanie and I were drenched in sweat both from panicking and from the sweltering heat of the day. We made it on the train in the nick of time, where I could finally take a deep breath and smile in reflection of another day’s adventure.
I felt so thankful for all of the kind people that helped us along the way to the train. During my time here, I have found that helping others is a large part of the Israeli culture. I was also thankful for the efficient public transportation that allowed us to travel to so many sites in country with ease.