{ Obies in the Holy Land }

've been in this holiest of cities for a little more than a week now. It has been great so far, though this is kind of an intense place--full of various kinds of religious and political fanaticism. Even though I am halfway around the world, Oberlin often surfaces in my daily life. In fact, I was listening to WOBC the other day while making dinner in my apartment. (If you've never listened to WOBC, check it out!)

Part of why Oberlin is so present is because my girlfriend Helen, who is also a member of the Oberlin class of 2009, is here with me. We are renting an apartment in a very nice West Jerusalem neighborhood called the German Colony and doing a lot of traveling around the area. (You can see the blog that we are keeping here.) Helen is an art major who will be participating in the senior studio program next year. She borrowed a large format camera from the art department and brought it to the Middle East so she can continue to work on her art here. It has been interesting to see how the discussions we always have about art and photography back at school have been transplanted to this very different climate.

While she takes pictures, I am working an internship at an American magazine's local bureau. I get to do some fun reporting stuff and it's a chance to get a feel for what it is like to be a foreign correspondent, which has been my aspiration since I was about ten years old. (I noticed that Alice also posted about her journalism internship. Please don't jump to the conclusion that all Oberlin students are aspiring journalists, though there are plenty of those.)

Before I left for Jerusalem I talked a lot about traveling in Israel with one of my good friends who studied in Tel Aviv last semester. This is one of the great things about knowing lots of people who study abroad. I got insider information for Israel and could easily get the same kind of tips if I were going to Ireland or Argentina or Moscow. On that note, if any of you prospies are going to be passing through the holy land this summer, feel free to shoot me an email at max.strasser@oberlin.edu. Helen and I would love to get together and talk about Oberlin or Jerusalem or whatever. In fact, one of our friends from school who is here on a Birthright trip (though I have my qualms with that organization) will be staying in our apartment for a few nights.

On my first day in Jerusalem after I walked through the Damascus Gate I heard someone shout my name. When I looked over, it was a friend from Oberlin who was also here on a Birthright trip. We chatted for a few minutes and then parted saying, "All right. See you back at school." Like I said, Oberlin never seems too far away.


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