Archive | July, 2012

Nose to the Grindstone

30 Jul

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I was off work all last week since the university required me to take my furlough for 2012-13 before I left. I just stayed in Reno since I’m trying to save money. It was a nice relaxing week – I read a lot, took some kids to the water park, went to my first Reno Aces game, had long lunches with friends – it was great.

Today, I’m back to work and it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. Since I am still doing my usual work travel in September, that means I’ve only got August to wrap up projects and finish writing my “Mary Manual.” My to-do list is about three feet long but at least I won’t be getting bored. Admittedly, I’m getting a little stressed out but I know I’ll hit the “super focused” groove soon. This might be a good month to buy me a drink. Ha ha!

August also brings with it a few big events I’m looking forward to – a friend’s wedding in Grass Valley, the annual awards ceremony for the theater and La Tomatina en Reno (basically, a massive tomato based food fight in downtown Reno that raises money for cancer research). I have a feeling that August and September are going to FLY by!

Hitting the Books

23 Jul

So this week a new reality has sunk in for me. I’m going back to school. 

Yes, I know totally Captain Obvious. But I hadn’t really thought about the actual STUDYING part too much until just recently. I was still too busy getting my head around leaving for a year and the prep that goes into that. This week our group on Facebook has already starting talking about setting up study groups given the insane amount of reading we are going to pack into a year’s time. It is a two year degree crammed into one year after all. Again, something I realized but didn’t really think about.

I’m not trying to sound freaked out. I’m not freaked out. Okay, maybe a smidge. I was doing okay on the not freaked out front until someone in our group pointed out that we only have classes two days a week. And that the expectation is that the rest of the time we’d be doing research or studying. Yikes! It’s been a VERY long time since I was a student. My study skills are probably pretty rusty at this point. I hope I can find my groove again pretty quickly. History requires a lot of reading and this program will require readings not only in English but German too. I’ll just have to dug deep and do my best. I know I can be successful – I just need to tame the worry monster. My biggest advantage is – my whole reason for being in Israel is to study on this program. No outside influences. No day-to-day Reno home life to distract me. Though anyone who knows me, knows I’m always up for distraction. It’s going to be interesting!

My next hurdle to tackle is to decide if I want to take the thesis track (less classes but massive research paper at the end) or the comprehensive exam track (more classes but a final test where you can be tested on anything you learned in any class you took in the last year). Not sure when that decision needs to be made. I’ve already have a few thesis ideas floating around but there are also several classes that I’d really like to take that I can only do if I choose the exam track. I’ve still have time yet (less than 3 months now).

On an unrelated note, another popular topic of discussion in our Facebook group is where everyone is going to live. Our original paperwork stated that we were required to live on campus. Since most of the students on my program are “non-traditional” students (read: old!) the university has granted us an exception if we’d like to live off campus. After much debate, I’ve decided to live on campus my first semester then decide rather to stay there for the other two semesters. I’m hoping that by living on campus, studying will be easier and I will meet more people. Plus, I’d rather get to know the city so I can best decide which neighborhood I’d like to live in. Not to mention, get to know the other students so I can figure out who I would be willing to be roommates with! 

Double Digit Countdown

10 Jul

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Well, Sunday marked 100 days until my departure. I’m down into the double digits now. Time seems to be zipping by! I’ve been so busy preparing for my departure at work (writing a manual on how to do my job, organizing old emails, finishing the marketing campaign early) and at home (moving, getting doctor check ups done) that it wasn’t until just recently that I’ve been able to think about what my time in Israel will be like. I guess it was still abstract in my mind until recently.

This weekend I went camping – it was a great excuse to slow down and think about where I am headed. I thought about the people & events I will miss here at home but at the same time, I thought about the people I will be meeting. When I moved to New Zealand, I found a place to live with three girls by the university. I had no idea at the time that I was moving in with some of my closest friends to this day. Will it be the same in Israel? As I read through the posts in our private group on Facebook, I can’t help but to think “Who will I be good friends with? Who will be my coffee buddy? Who will want to travel too?”

I’ve lived abroad enough times and worked with study abroad students long enough to know all the stages of culture shock. I’m looking forward to the settled in stage. When I’ve found my groove, made friends and have a routine. At the same time, I look forward to the adjustment of a new place – those early stages of the culture shock curve. I have already reached out to two groups outside of the university to help me settle in and meet new people. The Haifa English Theater, a local community theater not too far from campus and the Tel Aviv Derby Girls. Both are activities close to my heart and both are groups that are typically inclusive and friendly. I want to be able to meet people outside of the university and my program. I doubt I will get involved in both organizations but I like knowing they are there for me. I’ve also discovered that as a masters student, I’m allowed to play on the intermural teams. Might need to pack my soccer cleats.

Odd Man Out

2 Jul

 One of these things is not like the other...

I have been talking to many people about Israel and, unsurprisingly, the majority of the people I know with extensive experience in Israel are Jewish. As I’ve had these conversations I’ve noticed a common theme. Many of my Jewish friends have noted that one of the things they like & appreciate about Israel is that in their home countries, being Jewish makes them a minority. Being in Israel is the first time that they have ever been in the majority. I, myself, am not Jewish and though I’ve never been baptized I am identified as Christian. My “religion” has been the majority of every country I’ve lived in and most countries I’ve traveled to. The ethnic stew that makes up my genealogical background (English, German, Irish) has allowed me to blend into the crowd in most of the countries I’ve traveled in. All this to say – I’ve never really felt what it’s like to be in the minority. With the big exception being my trip to China. I definitely stood out there! I felt very conspicuous at times being both western and a female traveling alone. It didn’t hinder me – it felt more like everyone was aware of me. There was no blending in to be done. I was only there for a just over two weeks so this attention did not have time to wear thin or bother me too much. The difference this time is that what will make me “unique” in Israel won’t be as readily apparent. Or at least from my current naive perspective – I don’t think it’s apparent. Regardless, I think it will be interesting to experience living in the minority.