Today was an excellent day! For not doing all that much, quite a lot seemed to happen. Today was a new kind of day in Ulpan. Now that we are mid way through our second week, we are completely done the review and have now moved on to learning completely new material. It is a lot nicer since we can now focus on one thing at a time, as opposed to the review period where we had to cram a million things in our minds. This week and a half long cram session was a major reason I was so nervous about my grade on the first mivchan (test). There was so much to remember, and so much to write about (not to mention all of the instructions were in Hebrew), that there was a LOT of room for errors. Well, at the beginning of class today my teacher (Eti) talked about how, for the most part, people did fairly well, but there were some that clearly needed to devote more time to studying; her favorite thing to say is "FIVE HOURS A DAY IS NOT ENOUGH TO LEARN HEBREW. You need to think in Hebrew, dream in Hebrew, etc." Knowing that I probably wasn't one of those people (since I study a lot), I wasn't too worried, but I don't test very well, and tend to make ridiculous mistakes, so I wasn't home free yet. As she was handing back the tests I saw a lot of people around me getting 80-85% and they were really happy about that. That made me a little more comfortable because I couldn't see myself getting lower than an 80%. Then my test came back with a big 96% circled in red and I was so so so ecstatic!!!! On my first mivchan, all in Hebrew, I got an A :-) YAY
Once the balagan (craziness) with the tests was over, Eti, kind of out of the blue looked to me and, in front of the class, said that she wanted me to stay behind for a little bit in the break to tell her about my Arabic. She commented that in every composition I have written I talk about Arabic and she was really interested in knowing about it. I said I could talk to her about my obsession all of break since there is so much to say and I think she got a kick out of that. Anyways it was time for break and she came over to me to find out what was going on with this Jewish girl who is obsessed with Arabic. I think she might have done some research on me since she knew I was a graduate student and that is not something you can just imply in a mixed ulpan class. So I began to tell her how I started with Arabic, how I self studied in high school, took classes in college, and then moved to Israel to study the Palestinian dialect. I then told her what I was getting my Master's degree in and BOOM there was an immediate connection. My teacher, Eti, was born in Libya, speaks Arabic, took Arabic when she was in high school, and went to America to get her Master's degree in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. I knew I loved her!!! It was really nice to hear about what she had done, and it got me more excited for my upcoming studies :-) She then asked if I was Mizrahi ( a Jew of Arab origin; from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, or really any Arab country), and I told her that I was not, though I desperately wanted to say I was since it is like my soul's identity haha. She said that in a past life I was definitely Arab because if you love something so much, and have no connection to it in this life, then it is your past life coming through. UMMMM YUP! She confirmed it. I was an Arab Jew in a past life and the Arab is COMING OUT :-D
After Ulpan I had a date to meet my friend Dana for lunch (she has been sick and finally is feeling better so we decided to grab a meal). We went to a really nice cafe on campus (totally in Hebrew), and had quite an experience with the menu. Ok, so I could read it, but I had NO idea what most of it meant... it was a bit of a problem and I was starving!! I finally decided to get a pasta and call it a day. When I'm less famished I'll sit and struggle with the menu. My food came out pretty fast, but Dana's took a while so I grabbed a table and held down the fort. As she was waiting for her food a man came up to the table and started speaking to me in Hebrew. After he finished his little speech I asked him kindly to repeat himself in English so I could understand him, and thus I had my first experience with Middle Eastern flirting tactics... So, without any introduction, he just comes up to me and says "Please, can I have your number. I really really would like to have it..." Well, flattering, but ummm I don't know who he is so naturally I say "O I'm so sorry I have a boyfriend." I could have probably come up with something better but I was a little taken aback so this was the first thing that came to my head. Now usually that would be a signal to give up, but NOOOOOOOO. Not here in Israel. He then said "Are you sure? I mean are you really sure you have a boyfriend, because I really like you very much. You are so beautiful and I think I should have your number." I'll give him an A for persistency! I told him I was VERY sure I had a boyfriend, apologized, and after one more attempt to acquire my digits he gave up. A little pushy but not an altogether bad experience. I will admit it was very flattering.
While Dana and I were eating we had a great conversation about what is going on in the Middle East, my possible upcoming time in the West Bank, and what is going on in America right now. We tend to have really good conversations when we are together, and it is so nice talking to someone who has such formed opinions and ideas. One of the more important things we were talking about was America's stance on Israel, and how awful the ultra liberalized media is when it comes to Israel's portrayal. Another interesting topic that has been on my mind, and the mind of many American's and Israeli's, is the stance the Obama administration takes when it comes to Israel. I won't go into details about what was said, but it comes down to the fact that we, along with so many people, feel it is every Jew's moral obligation to do everything in their power to make sure that Obama doesn't get re-elected, and it pains me to think of how many Jews will continue to vote to put into office one of Israel's biggest enemies. But enough about politics! That was my little tangent rant :-)
After lunch we headed off to do some grocery shopping, and then it was back home for homework, relaxation, and whatever else. I was going to do laundry but it is quite a process here and SO SO SO SO SO SO EXPENSIVE! It costs 8 Shekels to wash (which isn't bad at all), but 1 shekel per minute of drying.... REALLY?!?!?! I will be hanging a lot of clothes out on my balcony... not so fun. I feel that I need to mentally prepare myself for this, so I'll put it off one more day haha. Tomorrow it is off to Jaffa for the big street fair, and I will hopefully be eating at Abu Hassan, which is said to have the best hummus in Israel! Lots of pictures to come!
Until next time :-)