First off I’d like to say shalom.

9 Aug

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The trip so far has been unbelievable. Going into this experience, I had only heard stories about this country, and it exceeds every expectation. Of course, like I have been told many times, I’m probably still in the “honeymoon” stages of studying abroad.

Everyday has been a sunny one, and every night there has been a cool breeze making it hard not to stay outside all night. Of course there has not been a drop of rain, but that also means I’ve been chugging water like it’s my job (the Israelis are very insistent on this aspect of living). Speaking of water, instead of a 24 pack, most stores sell 6 two liter bottles of water which are HUGE, but great to take on trips.

The “dorms” here are more like apartments, set up right next to campus with 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom in each. And can I just vent for a second by saying that taking a shower is one of the hardest things I’ve done so far. The Israelis may be very smart in a lot of things they do, but NOT at designing showers. After each one, I take a weegy (which is obviously already in the apartment), and I push the water down the drain since the whole bathroom is flooded. The wall between the shower and the bathroom floor is a 1/2 inch stub. Needless to say, it sucks.

My roommates are so cool, the first one I met on my second night here is from Ukraine, and she moved here when she was 16 years old! The second one is from Germany and she comes with a group of 60 Germans who came to study Ulpan (although she has already taken a year intensive course so she is basically fluent…COOL.) And the third is an Israeli who speaks almost no Hebrew, needless to say, communication around the apartment includes a LOT of hand gestures. What I found amazing was that every night so far, at least one roommate has prepared a huge meal for everyone to eat for dinner (and when I say huge I mean cutting up veggies, using a crock pot, and making a cake). Something that NO college student back home does on a regular basis. But, that is one thing that makes Israel so amazing. They emphasize family, and it really keeps the country as a whole so strong.

That reminds me of going to Jerusalem for the weekend. After celebrating Shabbat, going to some realllly cool bars, and spending hours talking to my group, we went to the Western Wall which was not only an experience in itself, but on the two hour tour there, we past different areas of culture and religion, and although they all seemed so different, they were always with family, whether they were selling food on the streets, jewelry in the markets, or praying at the wall.

On our first night in Jerusalem, we started at a hookah bar which was soo different than American bars. Everyone sits down either on a long couch facing each other or chairs, and smokes the hookah and/or drinks. At first I was a little skeptical, but it turned out to be an AMAZING night. What i’ve noticed is socializing is a hugeee part of going out, rather than the drinking aspect of it. Of course, we ended up at a club in which we entered a section that included almost no one at the beginning, and by the end, we had formed a dance circle that took up the whole room.

Speaking of this “we”, my group could not be any better. We come from all different countries including Argentina, Sweden, Norway, France, Canada and of course America, but we all have the same mission of learning this new language and exploring the culture. Everyone is so accepting of each other and we all have way too much fun together. I could go on for hours talking about every aspect of the trip so far, but that might take days. I really just want everyone who wants to stay updated with my life here. So enjoy! and hopefully I can write pretty often.

The pictures are from an amphitheater from the Roman times, view from a high point in Jerusalem, these man made caves from the Roman times that the Israelis are just now digging up, and of course a few from our first night out 🙂

PS- did I mention we have a huge pool across the street from us?! Yeah that’s pretty nice on a hot, dry day 🙂