Thursday, June 21, 2012

6/21/12: And So It Has Begun!

Ulpan Gordon 

My journey to fluency in Hebrew all began Tuesday evening at 5:00. It was a beautiful afternoon as I made my way down to the center of town to take a test that would place me in the intensive language class that I would be taking for the next 5 months!! The test went well enough considering I haven't really studied Hebrew since last year, I had an interview with one of the teachers who placed me in my level, and then, to de stress a bit, I walked down the street (literally) to visit Mr. Frenchy. As I was walking to his house I told myself that I have to be very good and try not to impose and ask to stay at his place all the time since it is right down the street from my Ulpan that I need to attend every morning at 8:15 am... For those of you who know me you know I am not a morning person so if I can weasel my way to a few extra minutes of sleep I will definitely try and do so, it just happens to be a big bonus that I happen to like staying with him regardless of the fact that it is convenient for my studies!

After a good night sleep I woke up the next morning bright and early to start my trial day at the Ulpan. I attended class from 8am - 1pm, felt a little lost, mostly excited, and realized that though it would be one of the bigger challenges in my life. It's discouraging when you are in a language class filled with people who speak 2, 3, and even 4 languages and you are struggling to pick up just one additional language. I love being American but I think it is a big problem that language acquisition isn't stressed more in American schools; I almost feel cheated in a way. Almost everyone I have met in Israel from Europe, Russia, even Israelis speak multiple languages with ease because of an academic system that stresses multiple language learning. However, regardless of the struggle it is something that is important to me and so I will get it done! It may be a struggle but at the end of the road it will all be worth it.

The class was amazing and it was so good to be back in a study setting where I was studying something essential to my new life in Israel. Almost no english was used which forced me to really work hard to grasp what was being said, the teacher talked very fast which has its advantages because every Israeli speaks a million words a minute, I didn't understand everything, but I kept up as best I could and have confidence that each day will get easier and more comfortable. I still go through daily life wondering how I will ever be able to truly express myself in another language, but I have confidence that if so many people I have met can do it, so can I (in time). At least now every time I have a thought I try to see if I can express even parts of it in Hebrew; it's a good training strategy in my opinion.

It's a very scary and exciting time in my life. I feel like even though I have been in Israel since last July I have really only just started my life as an Israeli. No more studies in English, no more temporary programs, only real, big people life ahead and I couldn't be more ready.

Until we meet again :-),
Jordana Simone

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