Scott Hastings ’15 – After a long, grueling, trek across the world we arrived in Tel Aviv, the second largest city in the country of Israel. First though, before arriving at our destination, we had a layover in France, which was my first experience in a country in which the native language was not one that I understood and I got my first taste of a language barrier. The language barrier would continue into Israel because even though many in Israel speak English, it is very difficult to tell who can understand you and who cannot.
The city of Tel Aviv, billed as the city that never sleeps, is very westernized in terms of how people live but very Middle Eastern in its looks. Traffic is absolutely mad! It is every driver for themselves out here but, amazingly, the rules governing how traffic treats pedestrians is much stricter. Traffic must stop if someone wants to cross the street. Kalp Juthani and I were amazed at how well we were treated as pedestrians when we went out to photograph the area.
On our walks we were exposed to several different facets of Israeli culture, the night life, religious customs and even Israeli social life. Mosques are much more common than I once thought, as we walked the one or two miles to the Mediterranean Sea, we passed three mosques. It was quite common for Israeli-Arabs to be gathering at the mosques, meeting with friends and of course to be praying there. Graffiti is very common here and on one of our walks we saw a Palestinian flag painted on a building. I found it ironic that a van bearing the letters “UN” was parked right by the graffiti.
The Mediterranean played host to the gathering of young Israelis with their friends and significant others. The lack of a difference in the behavior of young Israelis and Americans was probably one of the most eye-opening aspects of our visit to the sea. We got beautiful shots of the buildings along the coast and some of us even dipped our toes in the water. The weather of course allowed all this without a jacket or any heavy coverings because it is incredibly beautiful and warm here, a great departure from the frozen tundra that is Indiana.
I already plan on a return to Tel Aviv some time in my future because I have absolutely fallen in love with this beautiful city and Israel itself. I am only one day into this fantastic trip and continue to look forward to everything that is to come.
- Photos by Ian Baumgardner ’14