Skip to content

By zamorse

We get about a week to study for finals at GW. Once regular classes end, make-up classes from that snow day back in the beginning of the semester occupy a couple of days, then there are a few readings days, and before you know it, finals week starts. And then it's all over, about a week later. If your lucky, you'll only have a couple of finals, maybe a take home essay, a final project due well before finals week starts, something like that. If you're unlucky, you'll have four maybe five finals that week, sleep little, and live in Gelman.

In Israel, things are a bit different. Instead of finals week, Israelis have a peculiar way of ending the semester. I arrived in Haifa well over a month ago, and my roommates were studying for finals then. Fine, I thought, I'll see them when they come out of their rooms in a week or so. It's over 4 weeks later, and they're still studying for finals.

Finals here are spread out over a much longer period of time, and usually you end up studying for one final per week. You take that final and the next week you start studying for your next final. But, say you didn't do so well on your first attempt. In the U.S., you would have to live with the grade you got. In Israel, you can take the test again. So instead of maybe a three week finals period, if you opt to take two of your tests again, that quickly becomes a five week finals period. And there goes your winter break.

But it's not just the finals period. Because Israel is the Jewish state, the academic calendar is based off of the Jewish calendar, not the Gregorian calendar that we're used to. Sometimes school in the U.S. will start on August 23, sometimes on August 21st, but it doesn't vary more than a few days each year. In Israel, because the Jewish calendar is based off of the moon, not the sun, things go a bit differently. The school year in Israel starts after the Jewish high holidays. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana take up so much time in September, that there's no point in starting school before them. And thus school here starts after the high holidays and much later than in the U.S.

Is that the sort of education system you would rather go to school in, or do you like the way we do it in the United States of America?