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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.

 

Things I Miss

26 Jan
Downtown Reno with Mt Rose in the background

Downtown Reno with Mt Rose in the background

After Monday morning’s German test, I have no classes until March 7th. I’ve decided to run away to visit friends in London, followed by a trip home. I just finished packing my suitcase full of stuff to take and leave at home, as well as stuff I know I will want while I’m home. I’m already worried about missing my friends here and about seeing everyone at home. I’m curious to see how the US looks and feels after nearly four months here. I’m curious to see how *I* feel.

As I packed and in anticipation of returning to a country where I can read and understand everything around me again – I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I miss from home.   Surprisingly, my list is fairly short. Given that my longest stretch here is yet to come – my list might look different by the time I reach September. Here is a list from the top of my head:

  1. Family and friends – can’t wait to hug and catch up with all of you IN PERSON!
  2. Food! Okay, so we knew there would be food stuffs on this list. Accept it and let me dream about all the food items I have been practically fantasizing about – PORK!, Mexican food, nachos (I know it’s technically Mexican but given the ones I really want are from Silver Peak – they count as their own category), pad thai from the Noodle Hut, biscuits and gravy, pumpkin pie, McDonald’s sausage biscuits, dry white wine (they LOVE sweet white wine here), the kale salad at Campo, Chinese food…I’m sure there is more that I’m forgetting. Friends – let me know if you’d like to join me for any of these food endeavors. And if you want to work out afterwards – my posterior will need it if I do indulge in all the above!
  3. My Jeep. Being able to hop in my car and not have to worry about navigating bus and train schedules.
  4. My ugly orange cat, Loki.
  5. My bed – but this one will have to wait since mine is in storage until I return in the fall. It will be so nice to sleep on a comfortable bed that’s bigger than twin sized!
  6. The mountains. Granted, I live on Mount Carmel but I miss seeing the mountains in every direction.
  7. More clothes! I’m looking forward to changing out some of my clothes. I’m bringing many of my cool weather clothes home and bringing back more summery stuff. Especially given I have a better idea of how blooming hot it’s going to get this summer.

I will try to write a blog post or two while I’m away from Haifa. In the meantime, thanks for following me through my first semester here. It feels like it went by so quickly. There is still so much I’ll looking forward to doing (Masada, Petra and more). A few friends and I are planning a road trip next semester too. Not to mention starting my thesis research and writing! Ekk! So lots of interesting (hopefully!) posts to come soon!