Well I have made it to day 20 and it is hard to believe that almost a month has passed by. When I first arrived here in Israel, the thought of not seeing home for upwards of 18 months seemed so daunting. However, if each month flies by like this first one did, I'll be home in the blink of an eye. Today's morning was pretty routine; just a normal Sunday morning: Woke up, grabbed some breakfast, and headed out for my 5 hours of intensive Ulpan. I am still getting used to the so called "Eastern week" where Sunday is a work day and Thursday night starts the weekend. It makes it very hard to keep up with the days when every Sunday feels like Monday and every Thursday feels like Friday...
After Ulpan I forced myself to finally do my laundry. I could put it off no longer. I decided to go in the mid afternoon, when most people are at the beach, in the hopes of getting a machine and minimizing wait time. I love Israel, I really do, but sometimes I wonder how such an advanced country can be so backwards and inefficient. For example, I live in campus apartments comprised of about 6 buildings, each having 4-6 wings, with each wing being 6-8 floors hight. You have to figure there are close to 1,000 students (if not more) living here. Well, the genius who designed this little university village decided to only build one laundry room comprised of 5 washing machines and 3 dryers... Are we seeing a problem here?????? First of all 5 washing machines for over 1,000 students is awful enough, but then to not even have enough dryers to deal with all of the machines... CRAZY. I was told that most Israelis don't use dryers so I guess I'm going to either have to get used to waiting or hang dry all of my clothes... not so fun!
Anyways, my little rant aside, I happened to do laundry at a pretty good time today, and was lucky to run into two members of my specific Ulpan who were also doing laundry. We all had about 45 minutes to wait so we decided to stay in the room together and get to know one another a little better. It was so amazing talking to them and hearing each of their stories. The people who I have met that are studying here are absolutely amazing and fascinating.
The first person with me in the laundry room was a boy in my Ulpan who is very much like myself. We are what I like to call the "Jewrabs". We are both Jewish, but both so obsessed with Arab culture and language, so naturally, we instantly bonded. Every time we learn something new in Ulpan that is similar to Arabic we always catch one another's eyes. Some more amazing things about him; he is an undergraduate studying Ulpan here, but is soon moving to Jordan to live with a host family for 4 months and research for his undergraduate thesis. Needless to say, I am so jealous! He has traveled all over the world, lived in India, Bangladesh, and other crazy fascinating places, and the best part about him is he said he would help me find my gay husband in Tel Aviv. He and I are going to get along really well :-). He is such a character and I can't wait to spend more time getting to know him!
The second girl who was with us has quite a story of her own. She was born in Poland, has lived in Austria, now lives in Germany, and speaks English better than most Americans. She attended a high school that had what I would equate to an honors international program which is why she speaks such amazing English (with almost no foreign accent). Anyways, the thing about her that is the most interesting is her work. She is not Jewish, but lives in Germany and works at the large Holocaust memorial in Berlin. Her job description is absolutely fascinating! She speaks fluent Polish, German, and English so she is responsible for interviewing Holocaust survivors and translating the interviews from Polish to German and English, or from German to Polish and English. The Holocaust memorial in Berlin is documenting and archiving all of these interviews so that they have an extensive collection of testimonies from survivors. She told me that if I am ever in Berlin she would show me around, and I have a feeling I will be taking her up on that offer. She decided to learn Hebrew because she is responsible for giving tours at the museum and many Israelis come to visit. Also, when she interviews survivors who are living in Israel, sometimes they intertwine Hebrew with their native Polish or German, so it helps that she knows the language.
It was so amazing hearing their unique stories, and it got me so excited for all the things I am about to be doing, and interesting stories I will soon be producing. When you are surrounded by such inspiring and motivated people, it pushes you to be more motivated to do extraordinary things. This is just the kind of intellectual stimulation and motivation I was looking for, and I have still only met a few people out of a thousand or more. I can't wait to hear more amazing stories of the students who picked up, left home, and traveled half way around the world to study here... just like me :-)
Tomorrow it is off to Jaffa, and then I have back to back trips to Jerusalem on Tuesday and Wednesday! Wednesday's trip is going to be quite a treat as I am participating in my first Ramadan festivity (Iftar) in Jerusalem's Old City! How lucky am I :-D
Until Tomorrow Then,