Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Exploring Israel

We have successfully completed our second week in Israel!!  Time is really flying by so quickly; it’s crazy.  I already feel like I've known these people for years.  I guess that's what happens when you spend all day everyday with  people..... okay anyway this was the first week when we started going on Tiyuls.  A tiyul is basically a trip, some are half days and some are full days.  On half day trips, we still have our general studies classes in the afternoon.

So, I'm sure everyone is curious about what I have done on these trips so far because you are
all living vicariously through me so I will begin to describe them now.  So, last Sunday we went to a Tel.  A tel is a civilization on top of civilization on top of civilization and so on.  It was super cool see some of the advanced structures that have lasted so long (like older than my parents long) (love you mom and dad).  That was a half day tiyul so we still had all of our classes afterward.

On to the next trip, we went to Sataf.  This was so cool and beautiful.  First, we had to walk like three miles to get there.  Totally ridiculous that they made us walk there in the morning, right?  Actually, that's what I thought going into it, but turns out the hike was one of the highlights of the trip.  During this tiyul we explored some of the irrigation systems that were used way-back-when to water the crops.  Now, this isn't your typical flat group farm.  It's more set up as shelves upon shelves of crops in a line.  So, we got super deep into the water streams and we ended up exploring caves, and some of them were so small you were literally (not figuratively) crawling on your hands and knees through them. 

Our next, and one of my favorite trips, was an archaeological dig.  For anyone that has heard me say the world archaeological, you know that my pronunciation is hilarious.  So, for now on every time I say archaeological, picture it in my voice.  We explored excavated tunnels from the ancient times that people used to live and hid from their enemies in.  It was crazy how small the spaces were.  I asked our tour guide if I could move into one for a day, and she told me they didn't have WIFI down there so I immediately rescinded my request. Along with the tunnels we did some digging and found a few bones and pieces of pottery.  Also, we had the chance to explore some ancient burial caves.  This trip was very fun and I also have to say, I learned a lot.

Friday, I had a chance to go off the Kibbutz.  I went to northern Israel to a place called En Hashofet.  One of the friends I made here on EIE invited me to go with her to her grandparents’ house.  They live on a rather large kibbutz and it was super nice.  This opportunity was really great for me because I got to test out my sub-par Hebrew skills.  But, this made me realize I know more than I think, and I can actually hold a short conversation.  I also made the effort to listen to others conversation (this is different than eavesdropping, it's for educational purposes) and try to figure out what they were saying.  My guessed turned out to not be too far off, and some were even completely correct. 

All and all everything is great (besides the food sometimes). I love my friends and everything we have done so far.  This week is looking to be hard and boring because we have full days of classes almost every day :-(.  But, next week we are going on a 10 day trip!  Stay tuned for more. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Arriving in Israel

Hi everyone! As many of you know, I am studying in Israel with a program called NFTY-EIE for the spring semester of my junior year.  My plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, January 25 around 2:30 Israeli time (so back on the East Coast it would be 7:30).  However, not everyone from the program was there the first day due to many plane cancellations after the snowpocolypse.  It ended up being not a big deal as the rest of the people arrived by Wednesday.  So, now we are all settled and together on Kibbutz Tzuba, our home for the next four months. 

Since we were waiting for people to arrive, we have not really done very much so far.  On Monday, since everyone was completely exhausted, we just did a couple ice breaker games with our fellow EIEers and then were free to go to bed.  Tuesday, we woke up and headed breakfast.  Breakfast is pretty cool since it’s not the standard “pancakes and bacon”.  They serve many things, including salads with cucumbers and tomatoes (Israeli Salad), pita bread, and chocolate filled croissants.  After, we prepared some posters for some of the people arriving that day.  Lunch is also in interesting experience.  So far, I have basically eaten the same things for lunch and dinner.  I usually eat schnitzel, rice, and hummus.  I would say it’s excellent.  However, one of the nights we were served pizza with corn on it!! It was super weird; I would not say it’s my favorite. 

Wednesday, we were given an orientation to our classes.  First, we were placed into Hebrew classes.  The range of Hebrew skills if from fluent to not knowing anything.  We had our first Jewish History class Wednesday, too.  It seems pretty tough, but our teacher said as long as we put in a lot of effort we will be fine. :-)  We were given our general studies schedule and introduced to our teachers.  They all seem super nice and classes start on Thursday.  Sooooo excited (lol not)!!!!!!!!!

Well, everything is so super fun so far, and I am ecstatic to be here.  I have made so many new friends and memories already, and I cannot wait to make more!  I can’t wait to tell y’all (as my new Texas friend says) more and especially about our first trip, which is coming up soon!!


Amber Soffer