By KAMBER HON
BYU students who have studied in the Holy Land say a semester in Jerusalem is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to which nothing can quite compare.
Students who have been to Israel say the BYU Jerusalem Center is not only a center of spiritual learning, but is an economical place to learn everyday skills that benefit any college major.
The cost of a four-month semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center is approximately $6,000, including transportation, lodging, food and field trips. While this may seem expensive, it is very affordable compared to other options.
Trevin Rasmussen, a sophomore from Alpine, majoring in business management, says the value of the experiences gained in the Holy Land far outweigh the cost of the trip.
“To plan the same trip privately, it would cost me anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000,” he said. “Because the semester is sponsored by BYU, the church picks up about 80 percent of the cost.”
Several options are available to students. A Summer Term in Jerusalem, lasting seven weeks, costs about $4,000, a little less than the four-month Fall Semester. Likewise, the five-month Winter Semester offered costs more — about $8,000, according to the Jerusalem Center Prove Office. All three options offer students an experience for learning and growth, according to students who recently returned.
Kim Daich, a junior from Bountiful majoring in communications, said her trip to the Holy Land was helpful to her in many ways. She and Rasmussen both stayed in Jerusalem for Fall Semester 1995.
“I think any foreign experience helps you,” she said. “Most of all you learn tolerance. It’s so important to learn that the American view isn’t always best.”
The program of study is designed to help students fulfill general education credits, specifically focusing on religious studies. Thirteen credits are required during the four-month semester, eight of which are religion credits, Rasmussen said.
In addition, students must take Near Eastern Studies classes, which teach the historic religions of the Jews and the Muslims. “The neat thing about those classes is that they are taught by practicing Jews and Muslims,” he said.
Classes are in session three days a week from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. while two days are reserved for field trips to major biblical sites. Afternoons and evenings are for sightseeing and homework.
“Basically every geographic place mentioned in the Old and New Testaments is covered by the field trips,” Rasmussen said. “From the most northern tip of Israel, clear down to Cairo, we took buses back and forth, even climbing Mount Sinai.”
The Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, Golgotha, Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb and Bethlehem are some of the sites visited by the students.
“I think I enjoyed seeing the sites of Jesus’ (ministry) most,” said Tricia Hardy, a BYU graduate from Boise, Idaho. “Just being there made the gospel so much more real to me.
“… To see an empty tomb and walk where Jesus walked — it just makes the reality of the resurrection sink in more than ever.”
“By watching the different cultures, I realized that I really have to watch what I say; it’s not always good to be open,” Daich said. “Because there are mixed cultures, it’s important to monitor yourself at all times to keep from offending people of other cultures.