HIL: Shrapnel Exploded 150 Metres in Front of Me

Conor Chapman, first year undergraduate business student at Southampton, recounts an experience in our ‘How I Learn’ series.

In 2014 my mother, sister and I went on holiday to Tel Aviv, Israel. My mother chose to take us to Israel, as she had previously resided there for five years in her younger days and wanted to show my sister and I the Israeli culture. One of the main reasons why this trip stood out to me is we arrived when Israel’s 2014 conflict with Gaza began. On the first day, we decided to go to the beach and some shrapnel of a missile exploded in the sea around 150 metres in front of me. I remember at this point I was extremely shocked, and we had to run into a shelter, following instruction of an Israeli guard who clearly saw we were tourists. When we entered the shelter, I remember feeling very confused as everyone inside were tourists, and I realised that all the Israeli people outside were carrying on with their day – jogging, cycling etc.

After the chaos died down, we went back to the beach and spoke to the Israelis who didn’t react to the event. The majority of replies were that they’re used to it and have a lot of confidence in their military. From this I learned how different the culture in Israel is from Britain, because, if this event happened in London, the public’s reaction would be a complete contrast. This made me think of asking – which culture is better?

During the trip, I also went to Jerusalem where I learnt more about the history of Christianity as I visited the ‘Church of Holy Sepulchre’ which contained the ‘Calvary’ and ‘Aedicule’. In the Church, we experienced the holy rituals that are carried out; this had a strong effect on me and caused me to have a numinous experience that weakened my existing atheist beliefs.

Conor Chapman studies Accounting and Finance (with placement) at Southampton Business School. The views in this article are those of the author. This article is part of the ‘How I Learn’ series.

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