This is a place I feel safer in than anywhere else, where I sit down on the public bus and don't think anyone looks suspicious or is going to pickpocket me - far different than how I felt during my two weeks of travel in Europe, where I watched violent fights break out on the Brussels subway and constantly had to clutch my bag tightly in fear of being robbed.
The feeling of immense comfort and happiness that comes over me when an 18-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier with an M-16 strapped across her body sits next to me, and she compliments me on my purse, is an everyday occurrence. Watching members of the IDF walk the streets or on campus at Tel Aviv University with you is even better.
This is a Middle Eastern country where you can walk the streets alone at night, wearing whatever you please, and have no fear of possible sexual assault or petty crime or theft.
This is the Israel I know. And it's the one I hope most of the world comes to know.
The writer, a print journalism major, will be a senior this fall at Penn State University Park. She spent the spring semester at Tel Aviv University.