Getting settled in Israel

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Getting settled in Israel

Courtesy of Ilana Diamant

Courtesy of Ilana Diamant

Courtesy of Ilana Diamant

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I look at the calendar and it’s really only been three  weeks I’ve been here. That’s crazy. I’ve been here forever. At least that’s what it feels like. Every day is a week and every week is a month. But let me start at the beginning.

Sometime around October 2011, I registered for the Eisendrath International Exchange (EIE) through the Reform movement of Judaism (that’s right, not all Jews are the ones with the black hats and beards). For months, the facebook group for the people going on the trip was full of “120 days, guys, OMG!!!” But the few days before we left, no one really posted. Everyone was terrified, not that they’d admit it until a few days later when everyone felt like they’d known everyone else their whole lives.

We arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday, January 26th. The plane ride wasn’t as excruciating as we thought it would be. The mostly-edible food and How I Met Your Mother marathon made it bearable. The three guys in my row and I discussed everything from hipster music to aviator glasses to the Super Bowl party we would plan. All in all, not too bad.

The kibbutz (working commune) we’re staying at is beautiful. Really. Just today, walking to Chemistry class, I looked out from the outdoor garden pathways that are our school hallways and just kind of appreciated the fact that I no longer fail to see the light of day for 7 hours, I get to look out at the Judean hills and all the stone villages nestled in them. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Now, maybe you thought just because I was away, it’d be all play and no work. Well, I hate to inform you, but you’re downright wrong. I’m in class 10 hours a day. Breakfast is at 8, Hebrew starts at 8:30 and goes until 10:30, then I have Jewish history until 1:30. That’s right. 3 hours of a class I’m not sure I’m getting credits for! Then there’s lunch, and only at 2:15 do my normal classes actually start. I have a full schedule, so I’m in class until 7 pm, when dinner starts.

We take a lot of trips, though. The morning after the Super Bowl (I was one of the five people who made it all the way through until 5 am, with the help of Israeli energy drinks and extra hot salsa) we had a hike to a nature reserve called Sataf, where we learned about how the Jewish people pretty much screwed up everything they were told after Moses died and were terrible farmers. We hiked in some water caves, where I cracked my camera (typical.) We’ve also done a full day tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, the ancient underground City of David (the very first Jerusalem) and an archaeological dig, where I found some ancient pottery pieces and, for some reason, a seashell.

I’m writing this having just returned to my dorm from today’s trip, a lesson in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. We had a moving lesson about the destruction of the second Temple. The food in the Old City is FANTASTIC, though. It made an otherwise depressing day slightly better. Tonight “Lights out” is at 9 PM, because tomorrow we’re waking up at 2 IN THE MORNING. Why? To climb a mountain to learn about people who killed their kids, wives, and themselves in the name of freedom. Should be fun, right? Then on Friday nights the teenagers on the kibbutz throw parties in the bomb shelter, complete with lounge areas, a DJ booth, and strobe lights. So you see, Israeli teenagers are really not different from Americans.

So far, things are going great. I get homesick from time to time, like when I was sick, and after all, I did a Skype call with my 5th period English class. Israel is a beautiful country, and I love it and I’m proud to call it home for the time being. The pictures in this article are of me and a roommate dressed in togas for our Jewish history lesson on the time of Greek occupation, the view from the nature reserve we hiked in, and me devouring the delicious Israeli falafel.

 

 

I look at the calendar and it’s really only been three  weeks I’ve been here. That’s crazy. I’ve been here forever. At least that’s what it feels like. Every day is a week and every week is a month. But let me start at the beginning.

Sometime around October 2011, I registered for the Eisendrath International Exchange (EIE) through the Reform movement of Judaism (that’s right, not all Jews are the ones with the black hats and beards). For months, the facebook group for the people going on the trip was full of “120 days, guys, OMG!!!” But the few days before we left, no one really posted. Everyone was terrified, not that they’d admit it until a few days later when everyone felt like they’d known everyone else their whole lives.

We arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday, January 26th. The plane ride wasn’t as excruciating as we thought it would be. The mostly-edible food and How I Met Your Mother marathon made it bearable. The three guys in my row and I discussed everything from hipster music to aviator glasses to the Super Bowl party we would plan. All in all, not too bad.

The kibbutz (working commune) we’re staying at is beautiful. Really. Just today, walking to Chemistry class, I looked out from the outdoor garden pathways that are our school hallways and just kind of appreciated the fact that I no longer fail to see the light of day for 7 hours, I get to look out at the Judean hills and all the stone villages nestled in them. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Now, maybe you thought just because I was away, it’d be all play and no work. Well, I hate to inform you, but you’re downright wrong. I’m in class 10 hours a day. Breakfast is at 8, Hebrew starts at 8:30 and goes until 10:30, then I have Jewish history until 1:30. That’s right. 3 hours of a class I’m not sure I’m getting credits for! Then there’s lunch, and only at 2:15 do my normal classes actually start. I have a full schedule, so I’m in class until 7 pm, when dinner starts.

We take a lot of trips, though. The morning after the Super Bowl (I was one of the five people who made it all the way through until 5 am, with the help of Israeli energy drinks and extra hot salsa) we had a hike to a nature reserve called Sataf, where we learned about how the Jewish people pretty much screwed up everything they were told after Moses died and were terrible farmers. We hiked in some water caves, where I cracked my camera (typical.) We’ve also done a full day tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, the ancient underground City of David (the very first Jerusalem) and an archaeological dig, where I found some ancient pottery pieces and, for some reason, a seashell.

I’m writing this having just returned to my dorm from today’s trip, a lesson in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. We had a moving lesson about the destruction of the second Temple. The food in the Old City is FANTASTIC, though. It made an otherwise depressing day slightly better. Tonight “Lights out” is at 9 PM, because tomorrow we’re waking up at 2 IN THE MORNING. Why? To climb a mountain to learn about people who killed their kids, wives, and themselves in the name of freedom. Should be fun, right? Then on Friday nights the teenagers on the kibbutz throw parties in the bomb shelter, complete with lounge areas, a DJ booth, and strobe lights. So you see, Israeli teenagers are really not different from Americans.

So far, things are going great. I get homesick from time to time, like when I was sick, and after all, I did a Skype call with my 5th period English class. Israel is a beautiful country, and I love it and I’m proud to call it home for the time being. The pictures  are of me and a roommate dressed in togas for our Jewish history lesson on the time of Greek occupation, the view from the nature reserve we hiked in, and me devouring the delicious Israeli falafel.

 

 

 

 

 

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