A great stay in IsraelFor Sunder Ram Krishnan

A great stay in IsraelFor Sunder Ram Krishnan  

From debunking myths on Israel to balancing academics and extracurricular activities, SUNDER RAM KRISHNAN shares his experience 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 (of close to three years) till date, I haven’t had to fear about anything; be it a full-fledged war or a petty crime on the road, for instance. On the contrary, I have had a great stay until now, wherein I have learnt that the general public here loves anything and 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’ first thing on meeting you. I might add here that I have been able to manage without Hebrew quite easily in getting things done.

Moving on to academics 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, and it is also worth mentioning that even the well-known professors work together with their students as though they are their friends and collaborators. Several seminars and talks happen regularly on campus, and there are also efforts to bring together researchers from other reputed institutes across Israel via numerous initiatives.

Apart from the academic activities, parties and cultural events take place on campus wherein famous bands perform. The international school also takes particular care to organize 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 across Israel, and a knowledgeable English-speaking guide always accompanies us. The number of Indians in Technion has seen a steady rise in the lastthreeyears, and they range from undergraduates in the Civil Engineering program to postdocs in various disciplines. The Physics cafeteria at the Technion even offers Indian thali in the traditional plate on Wednesdays, probably due to the huge number of Indians and the fact that Israelis love Indian food. The Indian community is closely-knit, and you will usually find assistance from an Indian at the time of joining apart from the Israeli buddy assigned to you. We also organize several events during Diwali, New Year, and so on, which provide a platform for Indians to meet and showcase their talents.

Finally, regarding the city, Haifa is a quiet little place, but replete with whatever you might need. There are markets where you can get Indian spices and fresh vegetables. Even though the nightlife is not as lively as in Tel Aviv, you can easily reach the commercial capital from Haifa via public buses or trains in the weekends. The holy city of Jerusalem is also not far off, a place which you should visit sometime during your stay in Israel.

All in all, even though Israel is a tiny nation, the academic standards and quality of living are quite high, and it is definitely worth considering as an avenue for your higher studies.

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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