Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is the only Israeli university created to fulfill a unique nation-building mandate: to develop the Negev, its land and its people. It is Israel's fastest growing institution and gaining international repute for its innovative research,its dynamic student body and its modern campus.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev invites you to truly understand Israeli society from within, to go beyond the tourist realm and to become a part of Israeli society for a semester, year, winter or summer . Learn about the Israeli people from Israelis, discover the history of the country while exploring it, understand the religious diversity while participating in it, and delve into the geography, geology and ecology of the country while trekking around the state. If you are an adventurous explorer, ready to become integrated into the exciting, culturally and historically rich world of Israel, this is the program for you.
Beer Sheva: The capital of the Negev
BGU is located in Beer Sheva, Israel's fourth largest city, situated in the Negev desert. Tied to events of biblical times, Beer Sheva's history predates Abraham, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Its location on the main trading road between East and West and its accessibility to water sources contributed to its importance and development throughout history.
Today, Beer Sheva is known as the 'capital of the Negev' and is a growing city whose diverse population has blossomed in the last few decades to close to 200,000. Among its residents are native-born Israelis and Bedouin and many new and veteran immigrants from around the world, including Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. The city is truly a microcosm of Israel's overall population.
Making your way around Beer Sheva, you can witness the convergence of history with modernity in this beautiful desert city. In its Old City, you can visit Abraham's well, remains of a Byzantine church and remnants of buildings from the Ottoman period. In the newer sections, there are cultural institutions and commercial arenas, such as a new Center for the Arts, an internationally renowned chamber orchestra, local theaters, shopping malls, movie theaters, cafes, restaurants, pubs and dance clubs.
Despite these contemporary additions, Beer Sheva retains its charm and offers a glimpse of the "real" Israel, untainted by the western influences felt in the cities in the center of the country. The city hosts Israel's largest Bedouin Market. Open once a week, tourists and Israelis travel from afar to enjoy this unique shopping experience. Other open-air markets selling fresh produce are open every day. Beer Sheva features clothes markets, flea markets and the downtown artist fair each week. As far as cuisine, one cannot forget that Beer Sheva boasts the best falafel in Israel! However, you will have to make this judgment for yourself, of course.
The magnificent Negev region in which Beer Sheva is situated is part of an awe-inspiring desert that stretches from Egypt through the southern part of Israel to Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The beautiful scenery surrounding Beer Sheva beckons students to hike and explore nearby desert flats, sand dunes and deep canyons that stretch for dozens of kilometers.
Israel's largest cities, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, are easily accessible from Beer Sheva. Modern, fast train service between Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv takes a little over an hour, with service continuing to Haifa and the north. The university train station, recently renovated and opened in December 2005 is only a three minute walk from the dorms. Jerusalem is an hour and a half ride away by shared taxi. OSP alumni have reported that BGU's location makes it ideal for exploring all parts of Israel both on your own and through OSP organized programs.