The first couple of days in Israel went by in a flash.
I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel-Aviv and although I had planned to take a taxi, because of the amount of luggage on me, I decided to take the more adventurous and local way to travel. It works out that this option is also one of the more economical modes of transportation from the airport to the University.
I took a sherut which is basically Israel’s shared taxi/minibus. For anyone travelling to Israel I totally recommend they use this service to travel between the major cities. It’s a little slower but you pay less than a quarter of what a taxi would charge, and the extra travel time is shortened as you get to chat with the people around you!
Upon my arrival, I checked into the University, had my room assigned and settled in. I arrived on a Thursday and so I made sure to head over to the supermarket to grab some basic necessities and food prior to the start of the weekend and Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest (Friday sundown to Saturday Sundown). During this time most of the stores in Jerusalem are closed and I definitely wanted to ensure I had survival goods to make it through the weekend. Next, I had to figure out where my classes would be held and if I needed to complete any homework/assignment, or purchase a textbook prior to the beginning of my class. Here classes begin on Sunday and run until Thursday. In Israel the weekend is considered to be Friday and Saturday. Once I figured out locations and course requirements I focused on catching up on missed work. I arrived a week late to Ulpan, which composes the first three weeks of the Spring Semester at Hebrew U, and is an intensive Hebrew language immersion course. My class breezed through the work the first week – I guess it’s noted to be intensive Hebrew for a reason- and consequently between trying to catch up and the jet lag I experienced (Jerusalem is seven hours ahead of Toronto time) the week went by within the blink of an eye.
I’ve been in Jerusalem for over a week now and I am still in slight disbelief that I am actually here. Yet, as I start my days, I realize I am not in Toronto when at dawn I hear the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, being emitted from the minaret of a nearby mosque.
Then, as I got out for my morning runs, my body- in between huffs and puffs- and particularly my legs realize I am not in Toronto as I begin running up what is one of the many steep and long hills of Jerusalem! Nothing compared to Toronto’s relative flatness… Soon, I reach the crest and look over to my right to see the amazing panoramic views of Jerusalem. Ahead of me I make out the dunes of the Judean desert, nestled in there, I catch a glimpse of the Dead Sea! “Yep”, I realize, “definitely not in Toronto!”
What’s more! A couple of nights ago I had my first dream in what I am recalling to be “Hebrewglish” and so I presume the intensive Ulpan course is working. One thing I know for sure is that I would definitely not experience this in Toronto!
“Lehit” (Short form of “Lihtraot”= “See you” in Hebrew)