Tag Archives: holocaust studies

Happy New Year

2 Jan

Wow, it’s 2013! How did that sneak up on me? This semester has absolutely zipped by me. December was packed full of deadlines – hence the lack of posts. Sorry about that. I’ll be better now. I have a list of topics to write about so get ready for more regular updates.

2012 was a doozy of a year. In January, I decided it was time to stop dreaming and start doing. I had talked about getting a Master’s degree for nearly ten years and I wasn’t getting any younger. I had forever gone back and forth between thinking of getting an MBA in Marketing or studying the Holocaust. The going rate for an MBA is around the $40k mark. My current Master’s program is well below $10k and that’s without the scholarships I received. Since I’m paying for this degree myself – cost was a big driver.

In the end, I found an intriguing program in Israel through a school I was already familiar with through work. It was a very competitive program and I was unlikely to get in. Given the low application cost – I decided to just apply for the experience of it. I was so sure that I would not get in that I never said a word to anyone about the application except for the people who wrote my letters of recommendation. I did not want anyone to know that I had failed, so pride kept my mouth shut. After not hearing anything for several months – I knew I was unsuccessful. I applied for a new opportunity at work and started to make plans for new grad school applications.

The week of Easter, I received word that I was not only accepted to the program but I received an automatic scholarship. Suddenly my long shot had paid off and I had to decide if I was going to accept my position. First though, I had to break the news to my parents and friends. My parents took the news surprisingly well. I think they were more upset that I didn’t say anything about applying. They were, and continue to be, my strongest supporters and cheerleaders. My friends were very supportive though sad I’d be gone for nearly a year.

After about a day of thinking about it, I decided to accept my position in the program. Given that I had zero expectation of being accepted, I felt that perhaps my acceptance was divine will or just the universe telling me I needed to do this. Whatever it was – I didn’t argue. I’ve agonized over my drink choice at Starbucks longer than I thought about this decision. I can’t say why but this decision just felt right. The next hurdle was breaking the news to work.

My boss and our Director were so incredibly supportive of my decision to do this, that I nearly broke my iron clad rule of never crying at work. The rest of 2012, was spent preparing for this major life change. I moved out of my little blue house next to campus, got rid of a ton of possessions and moved in with my parents in May. I scrimped and saved all summer long. Before I knew it, October 17th was upon me and it was time to say goodbye to Reno and hello to Haifa.

I spent November and December getting to know Israel, making friends and immersing myself in the subject of Holocaust studies. I have incredible roommates and a great circle of friends. My group of friends regularly find ourselves unable to not discuss the Holocaust in some way, shape or form when we are together. My friend, Vicky went home for Christmas and shocked her family by talking about Death Camps at a family breakfast. I fear similar issues when I visit in February.

Deciding to come to Israel completely upended my life in so many ways. I realized recently that nothing will be the same after this – in some good ways and some not so good ways. I’ve gained new friends, strengthen some friendships and lost some who I never thought would leave my life. Regardless, I still think this was the best decision for me and I don’t regret it whatsoever. I’m still proud that I decided to chase my dream of getting an advanced degree and that I was brave enough to do it in a country where I had never stepped foot. This country is definitely growing on me. I appreciate the direct, no BS attitude of most Israelis. A defining characteristic of people here is that they don’t wait for what they want – they go get it. Rather it’s a spot in a bus (no polite lines here) or a person they are interested in or introducing themselves to a new group of people. They are bold, forward and fearless. I hope it rubs off on me.

2013 promises to be another interesting, life changing year. The majority of it will be spent here in Israel before I return home in September. Sometimes, I wish I could close my eyes and see a brief glimpse into where I will be a year from now. But if 2012 has taught me anything it’s  I can be wherever I want. I am the sole driver of my destiny. I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for me.

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Hello world!

8 May

Well, I guess I need to start somewhere. I started this blog to document my year in Haifa, Israel for friends & loved ones. I kept a similar blog when I lived in New Zealand. It’s just an easy way to keep people posted without getting bogged down writing a zillion emails a day. Not that I don’t love emails – I love hearing from friends and family! Hint, hint! Ha ha!

As I have been slowly telling people about going to Israel for grad school I have been getting some funny responses and a lot of questions. Here are a few answers to common questions I have been hearing:

Q: Why Israel?

A: The simple answer is because the program is very inexpensive and I can complete it in a year. The more complex answer is the program I’m doing sounds fascinating to me. It’s a brand new program – it’s the first of its kind in Israel. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I enjoy living abroad – as you know I’ve made it my job to encourage people to do just that. Israel provides a great opportunity to experience a complex place, steeped in history and an all around interesting culture.

Q: Where in Israel are you going?

A: I’ll be studying at the University of Haifa…in Haifa. It is the 3rd largest city in Israel and sits on the Mediterranean coast in the northern part of the country. In fact, the city sits on a bit of a peninsula so it has coastline on three sides of the city. It’s also built on a mountain, Mount Carmel. Apparently you develop killer calf muscles from all the hiking you do just walking around town. The university is location on top of Mount Carmel and backs into Mount Carmel National Park.

Q: Are you Jewish?

A: No

Q: Why Holocaust Studies?

A: I’ve always been interested in World War II history, especially the Holocaust. Much like many kids before me, my interested in the subject was originally sparked after someone gave me a well worn copy of Anne Frank’s Diary in fourth grade. My family is originally from Germany, although most of them immigrated to the US by the late 1800s but my own family could have just as easily been smack in the middle of history. Around that same time I discovered that a close family friend grew up in Berlin during the war and had so many jaw dropping stories to share – I wanted to know more.

Q: You are in your 30s, why do you need a Master’s degree now?

A: I work in the field of International Education. Having an advanced degree is pretty standard, in fact, I’m close to the point where I can advance no further without one. Plus, I’ve always wanted to get a master’s degree.

Q: Why do you want to leave? Can’t you just get your degree here?

A: I don’t want to leave but this is a simple way to accomplish my goal quickly and inexpensively. I do get free tuition from UNR as a faculty member but I travel too much to be able to take advantage of it. In order to get a degree using the free tuition, I’d have to work only part time and no traveling for two years. Not to mention fit in all that studying with all my other obligations. I am hoping that by doing an intensive degree abroad – I can use my time away to just focus on my degree. Of course, I will miss my family and friends very much but I will be back.

Q: When do you leave/when will you be back?

A: My program starts October 21st. I will leave a week before that. My program finishes in September 2013. I will return shortly after that.

Q: What about your job? Did you quit?

A: I am incredibly lucky that I work for fantastically supportive people. They have granted me a one year leave of absence, in order to complete this degree. They will hire someone to cover my position for the year that I am gone. I am very thankful to be allowed to do this. I love my job and didn’t want to leave it but getting this degree was very important to me.

Well, that covers a few questions. I’ll add more as they occur to me. Until I leave in October 2012 – this blog will just be covering preparations. I promise it will get more interesting once I jump on the plane. In the meantime, thanks for reading!