Archive | February, 2013

Spring Semester Resolutions

17 Feb
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The Dead Sea

Well, before I know it I’ll be back in Haifa – buried waist deep in the spring semester. Last semester FLEW by so quickly and this coming semester is already shaping up to be a challenging one. Though between all my classes and a once a week internship in Jerusalem – I’d really like to get out and explore more. Here are some of the resolutions I’ve been thinking about:

  • Go to the beach in Haifa! Why can’t I do my Holocaust readings as the waves crash in the background?!?
  • Explore more of Haifa. I have yet to find a good hummus shop. 
  • Take a road trip! A few friends are discussing this plan. We are trying to decide rather to head north or south.
  • The Dead Sea. I need to get this one off the “must see” list soon!
  • Masada
  • We have two separate two week breaks coming up. At least one of these will be spent abroad. Hopefully, both will be. Hello Jordan! Hello Greece!

Of course, I want to do far more than this but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on an already crazy semester. Anything else I do beyond this list will be a bonus. Plus, we have our field trip to Poland and Germany coming up next semester as well. Busy little bee…

Observations from home

14 Feb

I have been away from Haifa for just over two weeks now. I miss Israel and my life there far more than I thought I would. As I’ve eased back into life outside of the Middle East for this brief break – I’ve become pretty introspective about myself and my time in Israel so far.

As I catch up with people, the question on everyone’s mind is “What is Israel really like?” I still feel like I don’t have a good answer to this question. I usually blather on for a few moments about how it’s amazing, complex, fascinating, stymieing and just…Israel. I feel like I don’t have the ability to really explain to someone what it’s like – without them experiencing it for themselves. I’ve lived in several countries and have a “stock soundbite” for each place when someone asks me what it’s like. New Zealand – “Absolutely beautiful place, incredibly friendly people – go there immediately!” You get the idea. But for Israel – I find myself completely flummoxed for a succinct answer.  Someone asked me if it was what I expected and even that simple question stumped me. Though I did a lot of research before I left (reading blogs like this, guidebooks, websites, etc), I still went into this experience with the attitude of “let’s see what this is all about.” For the most part, it is what I expected – except for when it isn’t. I didn’t expect what we lovingly refer to as “Israelity.” When things take about twice as long as you expect, no never means no and you may know what you want, however, someone else will will you what you get. It’s a fascinating place on so many levels and it’s definitely working it’s way into my heart.

On a personal level, since I’ve been away I’ve slowly realized how happy I am in Israel and conversely (and a much harsher realization) how unhappy I was before I moved there. What continues to stump me is why am I so much happier there? I do live a much simpler life – my only responsibilities are school and my internship. I don’t drive (hello public bus!), I don’t watch TV unless I’ve downloaded it from iTunes, I read more and I’ve started writing again for fun. Is it the stripped down life that provides the happiness? I have good friends, great roommates and interesting classmates. I ended a messy personal situation shortly after arriving which – though it was tough – has meant my heart is open again in a way it hasn’t been in a while. I am able to focus on enjoying the moment instead of living my life electronically through constantly contact with home. I’ve been busting my tail in school. Learning how to be a student again has been a challenge and definitely has pushed my limits. But there is an incredible satisfaction in knowing that all the hard work, late nights and endless gripe sessions with classmates all result in bettering myself and expanding my horizons. It sounds ultra cheesy and I know it – but it’s true. I’m doing this for me and no one else….which is sadly a rare thing in my life. 

Whatever the reason for my happiness – I’m enjoying it. Next semester is already shaping up to be a doozy. We will only have a brief break between our spring and summer semesters. I’m going to have to dig deep to survive. I have my longest stretch in Israel once I return. This break away has allowed me to realize how much I miss Israel and the life I’ve built there while giving me a chance to appreciate my friends and family here at home.  I have no clue what the next few months holds or how I will feel when I pack my stuff up for the final time come September. All I know is I’m so thankful for this experience and for what is yet to come.