Currently, I am following an Ulpan summer course in Tel Aviv! As many of you have told me that they would either like to start learning Hebrew or improve their current Hebrew skills, I would like to share my experiences at Tel Aviv University this summer.
Because I have a lot – relatively, probably not as much as some of you – of family members who live in Israel, I grew up with Hebrew all around me during the summers that I spent there. And, as a result, I have always been quite familiar with the sound of the language, and I picked up a few words here and there.
But, most importantly, my family always expected me to learn Hebrew and some point. Probably familiar to you, I had to listen to the same “when will you speak Hebrew” every single time that I visited them.
Moreover, I always regretted not putting in the effort to learn Hebrew when I was a kid. I learned how to read Hebrew for my Bar Mitzva, but it was, for instance, of an insufficient level to communicate with my late grandmother in Israel.
Family-related reasons were, however, not the only motivations for me to follow an Ulpan course this summer. When I first started taking studying Hebrew seriously, almost three years ago, it was due to my studies, where either learning Arabic or Hebrew was mandatory.
After one-and-a-half years of Hebrew studies, I was supposed to go to Beer Sheva for a semester abroad in the Spring of 2021. But, as you all know, Covid happened. Moreover, my second try in the Fall of that same year was cancelled due to “security reasons”, as the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs deemed Israel as “too unsafe” in that period.
Now, almost a year later, I’ve finally made it to Israel to expand my Hebrew knowledge in Tel Aviv! Although Beer Sheva is an excellent student city, I know the Negev and its capital quite well already and wanted to experience student life near the beach in Tel Aviv.
While studying at Tel Aviv University, I live in a studio at the Broshim dormitory, within less than ten minutes of walking distance from my Ulpan classes. There’s also another dormitory complex called Einstein, where people live in shared dorms. The atmosphere at Broshim is great, with mostly Master’s students and a lovely green courtyard where you can relax, and also several study locations if you prefer not to study in your room.
With a supermarket, a gym, a coffee shop and several restaurants all within a hundred meters from my room, the dormitories offer everything to ease your mind so you can focus completely on studying and socializing.
Studying is necessary, however, as the pace is relatively fast. We complete one chapter per day, which translates to a few dozen words and quite some new grammar. As a result, there isn’t much time to revise the information, except for the weekly test. But, the teachers are very relaxed and acknowledge that everyone is here in the middle of their summer vacation.
Nonetheless, it is expected of us students to complete one ulpan level per course. For me, that would mean that I master the future tense in Hebrew and expand my vocabulary. For complete beginners, for instance, this would mean that they could read and understand Hebrew, as well as have simple conversations while starting from nothing!
If you want to spend some time in Israel, especially in (Northern) Tel Aviv, and want to improve or learn Hebrew, I would recommend following an Ulpan course here. Especially the Ulpan classes are filled with students from all over the world who are here for the same reasons!
Do you have any experiences with studying Hebrew in Israel or other countries? Share them with other members of our community on our forum!