The Dead Sea Brings Life … Literally!

For the past month or so, I’ve had a terrible bout with pneumonia. Even now as I sit and write, I still feel some effects of the lingering illness.

Nothing is worse than being ill while traveling and studying overseas. It makes it very hard to focus on the curriculum, difficult to obtain a good night’s rest and even harder to enjoy any new functions or activities that may arise while being in a new location.

Homework? Who wants to do homework when you can’t sleep, eat or breathe?

“All I can say is that it was breathtakingly beautiful. Feeling like we were five years old again, my traveling partners and I dropped everything and literally threw ourselves into the water.”

Suddenly, one begins to miss home, miss the nurturing that only a mother’s love can give. Of course I am grown and can make my own soup, take my own medications and take care of myself. However, soup always taste so much better when a loving and caring mother makes it for her sick forever baby. And OMG … I can hardly read the medication bottles at the pharmacy here, so that is a no-go.

Thank God for the great staff at the University of Haifa International School. Everyone here pulled together to make sure I was well cared for and had a way to make it to the hospital if needed.  While abroad, students must first have insurance for the location they are traveling to. Then you must go to the clinic and, if the issue is serious enough to go to the hospital or urgent care, you must first obtain a referral approved by the insurance.

That is if you can get someone from the insurance to even answer the phone.

However, if you are like me, you wait and hope to get better with the over-the-counter medications. After going through things so much worse than the common cold, I have a pretty high pain tolerance. As a result, I have found it difficult to know when to say, “OK, Elizabeth, get to the doctors immediately!”

It was not until I felt like my ribs had been broken and something was stabbing me in the lung that I decided to go to the office and seek assistance. It was two days before the Passover holiday; my goodness, there could not have been a worse time to try to seek medical attention. Not only did the insurance not follow through on time, but the clinic was not going to be able to see me for more than a week since they would be closed in observance of the holiday.

Luckily the staff of the international school pulled strings with the insurance company to allow me to go to the hospital. Now I just had to wait for the phone call, which I was told would be two hours later from insurance telling me the referral is ready. So, I sat and waited, and waited and waited.

Two days later, I was still waiting.

The school was closed, the insurance wasn’t answering and I was feeling much worse. Wouldn’t you believe it, after several days of beautiful sunshine, it even began to get cold, cloudy and rainy.

Awesome students stepped up to the plate. As they kept me company during the waiting period, we discussed how much warmer it would be at the Dead Sea. As the evening drew colder, it did not take much convincing that we would leave early the next morning to a much brighter and warmer climate. I could not pass it up. Early the next morning — with me looking sick and tired, and the others sleepy but still trying to stay happy on my behalf — we left.

Upon arrival, we could immediately feel the shift in temperature. The Dead Sea is the lowest point of land on Earth, sitting 422 meters below sea level. Located between Jordan and Israel, the body of water is surrounded by desert. The sea is fed by the River Jordan and is rich with high concentrations of minerals and salt, known for its soothing and healing purposes. The weather there can be as hot as 103 degrees Farenheit during the summer and as low as 68 degrees in the winter.

All I can say is that it was breathtakingly beautiful. Feeling like we were five years old again, my traveling partners and I dropped everything and literally threw ourselves into the water.

This is not something I would suggest to those visiting for the first time — talk about instant eyes, nose, and throat burn.

I may have been ill, half dead and tired, but suddenly I was alive! Yes, the rich minerals set my body on fire.

I must take a moment to pause as I sit back and laugh at what a sight we must have been to the locals and people who frequent the area. Especially this city beach girl, who thinks the beach is for laying around and looking cute, all while trying to tan skin that is already a rich chocolate color. I found myself screaming “My eyes! My eyes!” and started choking on the seawater. We soon went running back to the beach to find fresh water to rinse our bodies and eyes.

After the initial shock, we went back out and begin to float around and relax. It was pure enjoyment and peace. My pains and ailments began to subside, ever so slightly. After lingering in the water for awhile, I took a much needed nap on the beach in the extreme sun. Upon waking up, I really did feel alive. The pain in my chest and lungs had subsided for the time being.

I felt rejuvenated — enough to last me until I could get the medications I needed to fight this terrible pneumonia.

The Dead Sea is so beautiful and awesome. I do believe that there are healing minerals in the water.

When I finally made it to the hospital, the physicians mentioned that my lungs were much worse off than I had thought. I also suffered a bronchial and sinus infection. Go figure, with all that waiting. But after sharing my Dead Sea experience with them, they agreed that the warm mineral waters and the great weather had done me good.

I suggest to you all, if and when you decide to visit Israel, you must take a journey out to the Dead Sea — if nothing else but for the experience of peace, tranquility and relaxation. But you never know … the mineral waters may also help you feel alive.

Elizabeth Jones is a transfer student majoring in criminal justice and international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR). She is studying at University of Haifa in Israel for an entire academic year.

Comment on this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: