Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 9: If You Want To Save The Middle East, Raise Your Hand!

Today was a wonderful, wonderful day from start to finish. First of all, last night was my first night sleeping all the way through the night, and I finally feel like my body is getting back on track. In the morning I headed off to my daily 5 hour intensive Ulpan, and it was a great session. As we were getting our homework back my teacher made a comment about one of my sentences (I had made a very common mistake), and after she corrected me she handed back my homework, told me that I was an excellent student, and exclaimed that my homework was "Yafeh Meod"(excellent, very good, etc.). I was, of course, very happy after she said this; it is always nice to be recognized for working hard! I do need to practice my speaking a lot more though. When I read a paragraph I can understand almost everything; when someone speaks to me, however, it is a different story... Firstly, Israelis speak a hundred words a minute so it is extremely hard to keep up. Second, there are 3 different words in Hebrew for what one word would be in English, so keeping those straight are hard enough. Lastly, sentence structure is completely different in Hebrew; the noun comes before the adjective, the preposition comes before the noun, etc. It is very hard to keep all of this straight when someone is talking to you! But, I am certain that with enough practice I will be ok.

After Ulpan I had a little time for lunch and then it was off to the meet and greet for my Master's program. It was so great meeting all the people who I will be studying with, but what was really exciting was hearing about all of the amazing things we will be doing. Not only will I be studying all things on the Middle East from diplomacy, to history, to conflict, etc., but I will be taking 2 languages classes, and partaking in various study trips to places like Petra, Jordan, Um-Al Fahem, the Israeli-Syrian border, and one long study tour out of the country (place not know yet but they think maybe Georgia). Along with all of the amazing things I will get to study, I will also have the opportunity to hold various internships in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and work on my Thesis out of the country (I will probably be in Jordan if my thesis idea stays the same as it is now, but who knows what will happen 15 months down the road
:-p). It all comes down to the fact that I am exactly where I should be at a very exciting time in the Middle East. With the dawn of the Arab Springs, the uprisings in many of the countries, the shifts in power and politics all over the Middle East, it is a changing society that hasn't been seen in the region in over a century; and I am right in the middle of it all! There is no more exciting place to be than somewhere rooted in so much history on the verge of so much change and revolution. I have no doubt that this will truly be a year filled with amazing discoveries and adventures.

After the meet and greet I had some down time at home where I cooked some food, did my homework, listened to my new Arabic CD's (I'm getting so fast at memorizing the songs now. I'm down to about 2 weeks to get a whole CD down in Arabic!!!), and took a little rest. Once night fell I FINALLY got to meet up with my friend Susanna who I went to school with in Jerusalem 2 years ago. It was so amazing seeing her again, and it was like no time had passed. We are going to Jerusalem tomorrow and spent the night talking about our upcoming trip, my school, and her new job in Tel Aviv! Another reason this year will be amazing is because I have a partner in crime to travel around with (both in Israel and abroad), and when we both have a little time off from our crazy lives, we will get to do a lot of great things!

Well that pretty much sums up today. I have such butterflies in my stomach because I am going back to Jerusalem tomorrow; back to where I lived, back to what is familiar to me. I can't wait to be in my Old City, see the Kotel, shop in the shook, visit my Arab friends right inside Jaffa Gate, and walk around Ben Yehudah street. I'm going home!!! Stay tuned to read all about my little mini trip :-)

Lilah Tov <3,
Jordana Simone

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