At home in Israel

Sunder Ram Krishnan

Sunder Ram Krishnan  

Debunking myths about this tiny nation,SUNDER RAM KRISHNANwrites about balancing academics and extracurricular activities at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

As a Ph.D. student at the Technion in Haifa, Israel, probably my first task is to dispel the myth that Israel is a war zone and unsafe. In my experience, till date, I haven’t had to fear anything yet — be it a full-fledged war, or a petty crime on the road. On the contrary, I have had a great stay until now, where I have learnt that the public loves everything to do with India! They have travelled widely in India, and you are more than likely to find a taxi driver singing ‘Ichak Dana’. I have been able to manage without Hebrew easily, in getting things done.

At Technion, I had the good fortune of attending several excellent courses taught by some of the leading experts in my research field of Applied Probability Theory. The environment is conducive to collaborative research. It Well-known professors work together with their students and are friendly. Several seminars and talks happen regularly on campus, and there are also efforts to bring together researchers from other reputed institutes across Israel through numerous initiatives.

Apart from academics, cultural events take place on campus wherein famous bands perform. The international school also takes particular care to organise talks, thereby educating foreign students about Jewish culture and tradition. I also got to know of the Druze community and conscription in Israel through short films. Regular trips are also conducted to various locations, and a knowledgeable English-speaking guide always accompanies us. The number of Indians in Technion has seen a steady rise in the last three years, and they range from undergraduates in the Civil Engineering programme to postdocs in various disciplines. The physics cafeteria offers Indian thali on Wednesdays, probably due to the huge number of Indians and because Israelis love Indian food. The Indian community is closely-knit, and you will usually find assistance from an Indian at the time of joining. Several events are organised during Diwali, New Year, and so on, which provide a platform for Indians to meet and showcase their talents.

The city of Haifa is a quiet place but replete with everything one might need. There are markets where you can get Indian spices and fresh vegetables. Even though the night life is not too lively, you can easily reach the commercial capital from Haifa through public transport in the weekends. The holy city of Jerusalem is also not far offfrom here. Though Israel is a tiny nation, the academic standards and quality of living are quite high.

The writer is a third-year PhD student in the EE department at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

My first task is

to dispel the

myth that Israel

is a war zone

and unsafe

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