Originally posted October 24, 2009
Before we had fully recovered from our week-and-a-half-long adventure in Egypt, we had to start classes. I was still hurting from my stomach bug, so I skipped orientation on Sunday and slept a ridiculous amount, so relieved to be back. It was very comforting to be back at school, with my own bed, my own shower, and my own space. Oh and lots of my own laundry to do, but that had to wait until Tuesday.
I went to the orientation “party” Sunday night for the food, and hung out with some friends before crashing back into bed. Monday I skipped Hebrew testing because I needed to sleep more still and I knew that I would be in the beginner’s level. I went to my Peace and Conflict Studies seminar, which was pretty cool but I couldn’t get a real feel for it as it was the first class.
Tuesday I had Hebrew in the morning and nothing else all day, and since I was feeling mostly better I accomplished a lot on my To Do list, like grocery shopping and laundry. There is a class on Tuesday afternoons that didn’t meet this week so I’ll try it out next week. I hear that it’s a really good class, which is not good news because I already am trying to juggle the other ‘really good’ classes that I’ve been to and want to take.
Oh and in Hebrew there’s a woman, from Peru, who does not speak any English. Guess who gets to translate? Yup, me. She really appreciates it, but it’s so tough! I was literally exhausted after just two hours of class, going back and forth between English, Hebrew and Spanish. It is good practice and will definitely keep Spanish fresh in my mind, and I think I will learn Hebrew very thoroughly too. Hopefully we’ll be doing more in Hebrew soon and less in English.
Wednesday I had Hebrew again (I have it Monday through Thursday in the morning), and I played translator while we finished learning the alphabet. Using Rosetta stone definitely helped me to prepare, but it was nice to learn it in a more formal manner. I had a short break and then I had my Psychology of Conflict Reconciliation class in the afternoon. Again it’s tough to determine how much I’ll like a class based on the first one since all we did was go over the syllabus and introduce ourselves, but it sounded like it was right up my alley. It will be a combination of sociology, psychology, politics, history and many other disciplines, which is exactly what I’m trying to combine in my major. We let out early so I had a break before my next class, during which I met some good ol’ 5 college students! I knew that Abby was from Mount Holyoke, but I met another from Mount Holyoke and two from UMass, which was very exciting.
My final class for the day was Terrorism and Responses, which I can already tell is just going to be just plain fun. Okay that sounds wrong, but the teacher is really captivating and goes on interesting tangents all the time. I think I’m going to audit it as I may not have any room for the credits, but we’ll see. I don’t have to decide my schedule until the end of next week, thank goodness. Thursday included more Hebrew, this time in the computer lab learning the alphabet. It was a pretty good program that we used and I learned some vowels too.
Right after I had a Media in War and Crises class, which was really cool. The teacher is a retired woman who is so fun to listen to. She’s been teaching for years and knows a lot about her subject and history, while still staying up to date on current events. It seems like it’ll be a lot of work since it’s actually a masters class, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s also open to the communications department at Haifa, so next week we’ll have Israeli students in class too, not just international students.
After that I tried out another class, which did not fit my taste. It was about Iraq and its history but primarily the current conflicts there. Unfortunately I could tell 15 minutes in to the class that it was not the right place for me, and I had another 165 minutes left until I could go. I was a bit relieved though, I already want to take so many classes that I’m not sure how I’ll do it all. I’ll probably squeeze them all in somehow. I had a quiet weekend, getting some stuff done around the apartment and relaxing.
On Sunday I went to Tel Aviv with Jason, who is from UMass and lives below me. We took the train down, happily surprised by how cheap and air conditioned it was. We met his friends, also from UMass, at Tel Aviv U and made our way to the beach. We had falafel along the way and swam until the sun began to set. The sand was ridiculously soft, but I still prefer the beaches in Haifa with the great waves. On the way back up the hill in Haifa Jason and I stopped in Horev to do our grocery shopping for the week. The thing about the bus is that you can get a transfer ticket and get on another bus within the hour without paying anything more, so we had about half an hour to do all of our shopping and catch the next bus if we were to avoid paying again. We rushed about and, surprisingly enough, got everything we needed and still made the bus.
This week has gone very well, and I really enjoyed my classes. We finished learning the Hebrew alphabet and are now starting to read and sound things out, like names and English-origin words. It’s pretty fun, though a slow process. I forget to read and write right to left every now and then, but I’m getting more used to it.
I had Arab-Israeli Relations on Tuesday and it was okay, but not really a class I want to take for credit so I may audit. Tuesday after class I went with a whole group to Hadar, the Arab souk (or shok) in Haifa. It’s an open-air market with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheap food in general. There are shops around selling everything from cleaning supplies to tupperware to clothing. There’s actually a “one shekel” store there, where everything costs just one shekel, which is about $0.35, and is my favorite place to buy pens.
We did some hard core shopping and I actually bought fresh vegetables, something I was quite proud of. That night there was a comedian at the Moadon, our campus clubhouse, and he was quite good, making jokes at Israel, the US and everything in between. He’s part of a weekly Tuesday surprise, something different happening all the time. Wednesday is my longest day, with class 8am-10am, then noon-6pm. Then at 7pm there was a lecture with a lot of religious leaders of many different religions that I attended with some friends. It was so cool to see all of the rabbis, priests, imams and other leaders dressed in their traditional costume, and to listen to them speak as well. It ran late, so I left a little early to make it to salsa.
On campus every Wednesday night is a salsa club, basically, and it’s only 10 shekels for a lesson and the open dance floor after. I heard it was pretty good so I went with Niall and we had a blast! We did the easiest lesson as neither of us had danced in a while, but soon we were goofing around and trying out random twirls for the fun of it. He left after a bit but I stayed and danced a bunch more once the open floor got going. It was so much fun! I’d forgotten how much I love to twirl and spin, it’s been too long since I last danced. I stayed as long as I could but I had to get up early so I ran to bed before the dancing was over. I can’t wait to go next week, the week after, and the week after… There’s also a salsa club in Haifa, that I’ve heard good things about, that I’m going to check out next weekend with Anna, who was also salsa-ing.
Thursday was a nice relaxing day, especially after classes were over. I watched a movie with Jason and ended up having dinner with him and Peter, who cooked us eggplant parmesan. It was delicious! The next morning I went on a pre-Shabbat shopping adventure as I was running out of food and wanted to get off of campus for a bit. Shabbat starts at sundown and the buses stop running at 5pm, so it can be a bit of a time crunch. We still managed to hit up the Grand Kanyon mall and Hadar and make it back to campus in time, luckily.
It was Monica’s birthday last night so I hung out and met a lot more international students, which was really fun. And today’s been quite relaxed with little to do, though I should get more homework done before the day is out. Tomorrow night I’m going to a Idan Raichal concert in Jerusalem and I’m really pumped for it. I’ve heard great things about him, it was super cheap, and a lot of international students are going so it should be really cool. Stay tuned as I make my decision in the upcoming week about whether or not to stay in Israel for the year or to return to Mount Holyoke!