Who can participate?
The program is directed to aspiring young academics, formally to high-school graduates who are about to enroll at a university.
A dual enrollment parallel to high school attendance is not a criterion for exclusion from the application process. Other exemptions may be possible depending on the educational system, but not in Germany - the reason is simple: It is immanent to the ISSI concept and distinguishes it from other programs that it plays the role of a copula between school and university. The ISSI is not a Student Advisory Service.
The most important ideational prerequisite of potential participants is to excel at natural sciences. If you are considering to apply, be conscious of the fact that grades are not the sole indicator for your chance of success (although they obviously say something about your qualification). The decisive factor is the right mélange of talent and enthusiasm, which enforce the necessary level of ambition for scientific pursuit. If you are an appropiate candidate, you'll probably know what this means (from scientific competitions or special programs).
To enable an effortless communication about complex problems you should master the English language fluently.
I'm from Germany. How do I apply?
The number of German participants has been around seven for the past years. Two participants are selected by the Biology Olympiad and the Federal Maths Competition, the rest is open to every applicant. A simultaneous attempt via several of these ways is legitimate.
You may find the application form on the ISSI website. The German coordinator will contact you and ask you for additional material. Please take enough time, part of the application process are letters of recommendation. The next deadline is 1st March 2014.
In an interview which will be conducted individually or with other applicants, the final decisions are made. At the end of April the German delegation for the Weizmann Institute is definite.
I'm not from Germany. How do I apply?
The application process is different for every country although the criteria are the same everywhere. Nevertheless, the first step should consist in filling out the ISSI website's application form corresponding to your country.
What to consider?
- before the stay...
Health Insurance Usually participants are insured via the institute for ISSI. If one plans to arrive earlier or stay longer, one should check the service provided by one's own insurance. Temporal travel health insurances are offered by many contractors.
Visa and passport The passport you intend to travel with has to be valid for the next months. At immigration you will get a visa for three months which is sufficient for the ISSI. Additional information can be requested from local embassies or www.goisrael.com.
Flight The airport next to Rehovot is Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Upon arrival the participants are welcomed by the ISSI staff and brought to the Weizmann Institute by shuttle busses which take approcimately half an hour.
Due to strict security controls for all flights heading to Israel it is recommendable to come to the airport of departure no later than three hours in advance. Concerning the individual interviews with security officers, it's easier to pack one's bag self-handed and never let it unguarded.
Financial issues The costs for the ISSI itself are about 4700 USD but in almost all cases the participant will get a scholarship (which may or may not include the flight). Therefore while in Israel, it is unlikely to spend more than 600 USD, cf Money.
What to expect?
- in Israel...
Accomodation During the camp the participants live in the so-called Youth Village on the Weizmann Institute Campus, the exact dates differ from year to year. The Youth Village is a small bungalow settlement with a central square for gatherings. All bungalow are air-conditioned and have got four beds plus a bath room.
Whoever wants to travel around Israel before or after the program has to look for an additional accommodation.
Meals There are three meals per day in the canteens on campus. The buffet is a combination of international and Israeli cuisine. Punctuality is expected since announcements often take place at the beginning.
Language The common language on campus is English, solid proficiency is absolutely necessary. And if you know other languages, you will get the opportunity to speak them - in most cases.
1 NIS = 100 Agora = 0,28 USD
There are three ways to acquire Shekel:
- Exchange the currency in your home country and import the money in cash or import a different currency and change it to Shekel in Rehovot. The advantage are low costs but it may be difficult to calculate the amount needed. Usually the counsellors guide the group to a currency exchange business where they will bargain for a group discount.
Use a bank/credit card in Israel to draw out money. There are ATMs on the campus but they may charge a fee.
Buy Traveller's Cheques and change it in Israel. This is a relatively secure method but may not be accepted everywhere, so going to the local bank on the campus might be necessary.
Valueables can be stored in the safe of the Youth Village.
Security Issues Of course, the middle east conflict is very present in the news and probably one of the first things that comes into people's minds, when they hear "Israel". However, former participants agree that they have never felt insecure while being in Israel. Probably one should fear a car accident on the way to the airport more than an incident in Israel. The Weizmann Campus is a secluded area with access granted only to authorized visitors and employees. For travelling groups of ca. 70 people like the ISSI participants, Israeli regulations require security personnel. Usually this are friendly, young men and women completing their military service, who will join the group during the weekends and the last week's excursion.
What am I going to work on?
- Scientific program
As said in the overview section the scientific program stands on two pillars:
- the lab project
- the lectures
In total, these are the only obligatory elements of the ISSI.
The research project is the most important part of the ISSI and takes most of the time participants spend at the Weizmann Institute. It is offered and supervised by one or several scientists from the institute, commonly young PhD students and postdocs, and conducted by one up to three students.
Before travelling to Israel abstract project proposals are published, among which the students may choose their favourites. In almost all cases one will be asked to contact the mentor in advance for preparational reading of publications. We strongly advice to take the thorough background reading seriously (maybe even more than the mentor) and with lot of enthusiasm since this might have huge impact on how the short timespan in Israel can be used.
At the WIS the participants get involved into the current work of their research group, so the actual activities are quite diverse:
- Planning and conducting experiments (biological, chemical, physical, ...)
- Evaluation of the own experiments
- Evaluation of data from other sources
- Autodidactic work
- Solving concrete problems on your own
- Discussions with the mentor and other member of the research group
- Participation at group meetings
- Presentation of project results to the rest of the group
Every project must:
- be documented in a short paper ("report") due to the end of week three. All reports are gathered together and given to the participants as a printed book.
- be presented in front of the mentors and other participants.
Lectures and additional program
Several times a week lectures hold by Weizmann professors take place. They varies on a range from amusing to theoretical and represent the scientific questions that are pursued at WIS. Other rather spontaneous activities during leisure time like guided lab tours and stargazing are common.
A typical day during ISSI...
... randomly chosen from the life of different ISSI-ers.
- warm sunshine greeting outside the bungalows
Having breakfast together
- Don't be late for the announcements! The later you are, the harder the consequence.
- evaluating bacteria cultures from yesterday under the microscope
Having lunch together
- No one should stay hungry.
- first meeting, then continue programming the traffic simulation
- Title: „Einstein's relativistic time dilation“
|19:00||Having dinner together
- casual atmosphere after a hard day
- pool party today!
- 04:00: The last one goes to bed.
Is this all? What else can I do?
- Social Program
Leisure at the WIS
In the late afternoons and evenings one has plenty of alternatives. On the one hand the organizators regularly initialize events like
- an Israeli night
- a pool party
- a football cup
- a talent show
- an much more
On the other hand, participants are free to make their own plans. On campus one can find
- table tennis
- an open air bath
as well as space in the youth village - outside and in the community house - to organize their own events.
Leaving campus one arrives at the small downtown of Rehovot with shops, cafés, bars etc. Bars serving alcohol cannot be entered under 18 years.
Trips in Israel
On the weekends and over the last week trips to different destinations spread all over the country are made. Travelling by bus and accompanied by the same counsellours as in the Youth Village, one sleeps in youth hostels and has the great opportunity to get to know each other better. The usual destination are:
- Jerusalem (Old City, Western Wall, Yad Vashem, ...)
- The North (Caesarea, Akkon, sometimes Golan)
- Eilat at the Red Sea (swimming, diving, relaxing after three hard weeks)
- Negev Desert
- Kibbuz Ein Gedi and Dead Sea (hiking and learning about the biotope)
Whoever wants to manage the hikes should bring a minimum amount of fitness with himself/herself, but experience has shown that the high concentration of oxygen at the level of the Dead Sea has a positive influence.
The final expedition to Eilat, the deserts and the Dead Sea marks the endpoint and apex of the program. Afterwards a farewell ceremony takes place in the Weizmann Institute. Having spent four intensive weeks together, the time has come for the participants to return to their home countries. However, the next reunion will come for sure...
What to take to Israel?
- Necessary and Useful
Absolutely required for the stay in Israel is some basic equipment: as usual
- clothes for warm days and air-conditioned rooms
- sanitary articles
- no bed linen
- clothes for the formal events (decide for yourself: long-sleeved shirt for men, many wear a cravat)
- covering clothes for hiking under the burning sun
- hiking boots
- rucksack (middle size for city tourism and the desert)
- bottles or other containers for transporting several liters in the desert
Very helpful as far as the scientific part is concerned:
- Laptop (Wifi accessible), but: PCs with Internet are also available
as far as the social part is concerned:
- instruments for making music, a piano stands in the community house
- sneakers and clothes for sport activities
- boots for walking through water
- games, music
- stuff for representing your home country in the country presentation