We've been here for 5 days already (since Thursday), and it feels as if we've been here for a year. It's a nice feeling to be settled in and I am reminded of it everyday when newcomers arrive and they have to struggle to catch up with everyone else. Over the past few days I've been to Kiryat Atta and a mall in Kiryat Biali called Kiryon. My roommates and I get along extremely well and I am truly grateful for that -- the previous year I saw in my dorm how bad it could be for kids who don't get along to be paired with each other. Also, my hebrew is well above average here and kids are impressed by it -- thank you, Ms. Gavish! It obviously, however, can use much improvement and by the end of Ulpan I would like to achieve my goal of speaking with a level of fluency that would be hard to distinguish from an Israeli's. It's tough getting to know the Kibbutznikim; they are somewhat shy. I have been persistent in speaking to our good family friends' cousin who lives here and he was a bit reserved but at the same time warm. He welcomed me to come to his house at some point and the next time I see him I will take him up on that offer. There are similarities I have become keenly aware of when traveling and adapting to a new place. It's such a vulnerable experience -- throwing yourself into a new environment and attempting to aclimate to the ecosystem. There's an entirely new food chain to learn, different cultural norms, and most importantly "initiation" methods. How is one accepted when one moves to a different place? It is almost universal that hard work is an essential part of it. Many Ulpanistim apparently slack off at work and ditch class. $4,000 is a little too expensive to abide by the rules -- especially since the rules are quite lax. I've been speaking mostly Hebrew to the Israelis who work with us (the director, house mother, counselors, etc.) and I think they have taken a liking to me as a result. When in Israel...(do as the Israelis do). I forgot to post my mailing address and contact information, so here it is:
Ulpan Kibbutz Ramat-Yohanan
DOAR Kfar HaMaccabbi Zip: 30035
cell phone: (from the US) 011-972-54-906-6336
Letters and phone calls are very welcome (just remember the time difference)! Lila Tov!