I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted AND I have so much to say. I've had a busy week and wasn't really by a computer so I didn't have a chance to blog...
Wednesday was the last day of Ulpan, then Thursday we had some workshops and stuff, then VACATION. woooooooooo
Wednesday night and Thursday night I went out and celebrated being done with Ulpan/my roommates birthday (yay). Both nights were super fun, I am discovering more bars and places to go that aren't so touristy. It feels more like I'm in Israel than on a birthright trip haha.
For vacation I wanted to go visit with some Israeli friends and take a small break from the people I've been studying with. I had an intense 2 months and I was ready for a small break (I'm obviously a fan of my classmates, but I needed some space). So I planned a solo adventure to Tel Aviv and Haifa.
I got to tel aviv on Friday and I went to the beach for a bit where I got to see a friend from college who is in London for the year. Then I went to a friend's house, Udi, in a suburb of tel aviv for shabbat dinner. It was really nice to be in an actually house and around a family, I enjoyed it. Most of the conversation was in Hebrew, which was good because I want to practice my Hebrew, but I def only understood like half of what was happening. Nothing like a new language to make you feel stupid (I guess it's good for my humility).
After dinner I went out with some of Udi's friends. I def had a great conversation about Judaism with one of them. The whole idea of being able to connect to religion and not have to thing that it is 100% right or observe all of the halacha is an idea that isn't very present in Israel. Here it is basically all or nothing, but there are people out there who do connect to religion in a way that doesn't fit into the "all" category or the "nothing" category. So the one guy I was speaking to about this was saying he connects to parts of Judaism and believes in God, but he does not agree or feel like he belongs in the "dati" (basically orthodox) category, and was intrigued to hear that there ARE other options. I dunno, it was cool (maybe just for me, but I enjoyed the conversation).
On Saturday I met up with another Israeli friend who I met while working at camp last summer. He took me around Tel aviv and we even went up to Herzeliya (yes named after the one and only Theodore Herzl). We went to a great Hummus place and then to the beach. You definitely experience different sides of Israel with Israels, so it was fun to go to parts of the city I hadn't been to etc.
Also, side note, every Israeli (or almost every Israeli I meet) claims that they know the BEST hummus place in all of Israel. No matter what city I'm in it feels like someone claims that here is where the best hummus is and let me take you. I just think it's funny.
It was a super fun day. Most of the day was spent in Hebrew, which was exhausting, but good. It was great to see Guy and meet some of his friends and make an ass out of myself in Hebrew. I haven't managed to be able to get my personality across in Hebrew yet, and I also am HORRIBLE at picking up sarcasm. Man. Maybe by the end of the year. ha
Also where Guy lives, in a suburb of Tel Aviv, looks a lot like Florida. It was strange. I kept asking him, where did you take me? Why did you take me to Florida? And side note from that whoever says Tel Aviv is the NYC of Israel is dumb. Tel Aviv is NOT like NYC, there is no friggin beach in NYC. Tel Aviv is the MIAMI of Israel. It's a big city on the beach, with good night life, things are open late etc.
Saturday night I went back to Jerusalem to recover from the beach/pack up for Haifa. Something funny happened, so I was ordering a sandwich at this place in Jerusalem and the guy asked me what sauces I wanted. I asked for "harif" which is spicy stuff. He replied back "But you are ashkenazi" as he put it on. I guess ashkenazi jews aren't supposed to like spice? Someone else said a similar thing to me today when I asked for "harif" I dunno, I thought it was interesting.
Anyways then on Sunday morning I left for Haifa. Let me tell you something about the Israeli bus system or station or something. IT MAKES NO SENSE. So I went to the central station of Jerusalem and got a ticket to the central bus station in Haifa (now keep in mind there are 2 in Haifa, so that's pretty confusing). Anyways I got with my ticket and I looked online the night before and it says I should take line 947 so I waited there. Keep in mind that on my ticket it says nothing about what line or what platform I should wait at. So I wait and then the bus comes and the driver says that this is the wrong bus and tells me to go "there." WHERE IS THERE that is NOT a helpful direction. (This happens a lot here). So I look on my ticket again to see if it will give me some clues, but no. The only thing is says is code 23. This does not tell me anything, like seriously what?! Could your tickets make any less sense?
I go back to the information guy and ask him where to go and he tells me. So I get on the right bus (yay), but it takes me to the wrong bus station in Haifa. Of course. Luckily I am able to get on the bus that would take me to the beach, but I got on from the opposite bus station so I had no idea how long it would take me. Anyways long story short, I get off at almost the right stop and end up walking in the middle of a street for a bit cause there are no sidewalks, BUT I make it to the beach yayayay. Haifa has some awesome beaches, I recommend it. Def better and less dirty than tel aviv.
After a while at the beach I meet up with my friend Ophir. I met Ophir in high school during this trip to Israel called Havaya (great trip, ask me about it), and we have managed to on and off keep in touch. I went out with him and a friend to a fun bar/coffee place in Haifa. There was some great people watching.
The next day I set off to Merkaz haCarmel (not to be confused with merkazit hof hacarmel, see confusing) to meet up with another friend from camp. It was nice to see her after a bunch of months, and to see her apartment. I was proud of myself that I was able to get to her on the bus without getting horribly lost. I'm a pro, I've also learned to swallow my pride and ask people for help to make sure I'm going the right direction.
Then I went back to the beach. I love the beach. I am super tan and I didn't even get burnt! I met up with some people from school there which was nice, and then I caught a bus back to Ziv where Ophir lives. Again yay me for finding it, although I asked someone for help and she was really rude and looked at me like I was stupid (I'm not stupid I just don't live here and i have a bad Hebrew accent, I'm working on it ok), but someone else heard her being rude and was nice and helped me, so THANK YOU.
Today before leaving Haifa I went to the Cinemall which is located conveniently across the street from where I need to catch the bus. I finally saw inception. Interesting. In hebrew it was called "hatchalah" meaning beginning. It took me a while to figure this out so I could get the correct ticket. Good times.
Then I got on the bus back to Jerusalem, and was psyched cause I finally knew where I was again. So like a pro I got on the 21 bus to go home. Only after about 20 minutes did I realize I had gotten on the bus going the opposite direction. I just saw a lot of religious people, and I didn't recognize anything from before. Then I felt dumb because I made it all around Haifa on the correct buses, and then I got back to Jerusalem and messed up. Of course that would happen.
Anyways I finally made it back, yay. And now I am faced with the reality of starting real classes. Ahhh. This feels like the REAL beginning. Pretty daunting. Although I have to say I am feeling much much better here now. I know in some of my previous posts I was saying how I really wanted to come home and visit, but I feel good now. Definitely more comfortable. I think I just needed to pass the 2 month mark. Not that I don't still miss people, but I feel much better about the coming year. I'm getting into my stride. But who knows, sometimes I feel like I'm on a roller-coaster so we will see where next week and next month takes me.
Ok bed time, I have school tomorrow!!
ps if you made it all the way through this, congrats! I hope it was interesting :-)