Archive | August, 2012

Staying in Touch

26 Aug
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Thank goodness for email, Skype, Facebook and texting!

As my departure nears, I’m experiencing a range of emotions from excited to overwhelmed to – let’s be honest – semi-maniac. Those closest to me seem to be doing the same thing. Some friends have already started pulling away, others have been increasingly clingy. I can say I’ve been reacting the same way with different people in my life. Since I’ve moved abroad two times before – I’ve experienced most of the various reactions from friends and loved ones. I try very hard not to take it personally but sometimes it’s hard when I feel like I have this mental clock ticking away in my head and I really want to spend time with someone who is choosing to pull away from me. It takes every bit of willpower to keep from stomping my foot and saying, “Don’t you realize we are running out of time to hang out?!?” So far I’ve been able to keep all tantrums at bay. Everyone deals with change differently – I need to learn to give people the space & understanding to do this.

So with my departure comes lots of questions about how to stay in touch with me. There is a whole new world of ways to stay connected since I last lived abroad in 2003. Though I have to admit, given the antics we got up to when I lived in Germany – I’m incredibly thankful Facebook did not exist yet! You can, of course, leave comments on this blog for me. To the right, you will see where you can subscribe to this blog so that you’ll be notified anytime I write a new post. Facebook and email are always an option. I do have a Skype account that will be my primary way of calling the US – I’m listed under MaryRHenry. I am taking my iPhone with me and getting an Israeli SIM card. Those that have iPhones – I’ve heard we can still text and FaceTime for free (can anyone confirm this for me?). If you have a smartphone – download “What’s App” and we can text and send short videos for free. I’ve used this app a lot when traveling internationally since getting my iPhone. I’d love to hear any other recommendations that anyone has.

Once I am settled in Israel, I will post my mailing address and remind you of how to stay in touch. In the meantime, I will continue spending time with friends & loved ones and enjoying the time we have together.

Hip Haifa

19 Aug

The Bahai temple and gardens in Haifa. Photograph by Anthony Pidgeon

I apologize for the lack of posts lately – I have been buried at work and didn’t really have too much to say for now. I have about two weeks left in the office before fall travel starts. Between wrapping up work projects and trying to enjoy time with friends and family – time has been flying by!

We did hire someone to cover my position during my absence – my friend Johanna! She already works for USAC in the Student Information department but will be moving to Marketing on September 4th. We will be traveling together for the first two trips of September – I’m looking forward to traveling with someone! I’ll train her as we go and then we will have three days together in the office between trips. After that we split up to cover more fairs – I will have two more work trips before the end of the month. I am very happy that my schedule worked out so that my very last fair is at one of my favorite schools – Northern Illinois University. I didn’t plan it that way but I would have if I could! I’m really happy to be finishing work travel on such a great note.

I recently found an interesting group on Facebook – Haifa Young English Speakers. They host monthly beach barbecues, attend concerts and do cooking classes in their homes. They have a great list of English resources like – salons with English speaking staff, English speaking doctors and dentists, where to buy English newspapers (I loved the International Herald Tribune when I lived in Germany) and books, etc.  I joined their group and have already jumped into several interesting conversations. I even already made plans to meet up with several people for coffee my first weekend in Haifa!

So to apologize for such a boring post today I wanted to share a great article I found on Haifa on the Lonely Planet website (this is a different article than the one I posted on Facebook). It’s all about Haifa’s rebirth from a working class port city to a hip, progressive and inclusive city. Enjoy Hip Haifa.

Good News

5 Aug

On Friday, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the University of Haifa announcing I was the recipient of a very unexpected and incredibly generous $5,000 scholarship. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to get this scholarship! I had previously worked out a budget for my year abroad and though I felt comfortable having to stick to a pretty strict budget – there was minimal padding for unexpected costs. I have been saving like crazy for months with the theory that any money I can save now is what I will be living off of during the year. This $5,000 means that I won’t have to sweat every single purchase -though I will still not be living the high life (as if that’s any different from my life in Reno!) – it gives me a cushion and best of all, peace of mind.

One of the parameters for this scholarship is that I have to volunteer for three hours per week in the community. I had already mentioned how I wanted something to do outside of school – this fits perfect! Now I need to decide what kind of volunteering I want to do. The University has vetted many programs – teaching English in local schools, assisting at a retirement home (this one requires Hebrew though so it’s probably out for me) and working with recently immigrated children (mostly from Ethiopia). Two programs offered have really caught my interest. One is working at a community center specifically designed to bring together children from Muslim, Christian and Jewish backgrounds with the hope that fostering friendships at such a young age will lead to a more peaceful, integrated society. The other program is related to my area of study – helping to record survivor stories from the Holocaust. This precious piece of living history is irreplaceable so a major effort is being made to collect these stories before the storytellers are no longer with us. Regardless what I choose, I’m really excited to be involved in the community. It’s definitely the frosting on a pretty awesome surprise!