I’m compelled to continue blogging by the out pouring of love and questions that have come my way by my concerned friends, who haven’t heard from me in weeks.
It’s been over 5 months since landing! I’m sitting in Ma’afe Ne’eman, the bakery/cafe, trying to remember what I’ve been doing with my life over this time. I’ve held 3 madricha (dorm counselor) jobs, two of which were over the summer, and one which was supposed to be for the year, but I left after the first two weeks.
I’ve been through 4 gorgeous holidays (Sukkos here was the most perfect weather), moved 7 times, in locations including Ramat Eshkol, the Old City, and Givaat Ze’ev, interviewed in 4 colleges-two of them were fully in hebrew!-, and taken 1 day of Ulpan. I’ve spent…lots of money. Mostly on transportation and food. Maybe some clothing 🙂 Seeing my sisters, Hadassa and Minky-Israeli doctor’s appointments, breaking phones, getting an Israeli passport, meeting some beautiful people and a wonderful nutritionist, and searching for a new job and apartment has been keeping me busy.
I’ve also been here for a terror attack, a stabbing which happened by a train stop not far from where I was staying at the time. A 22 year old boy and 3 month old girl were both killed. As a nation, we had no way to adequately express our grief, but I saw this sign at the train stop where the stabbing occurred, and it blew me away.
Right now, I’m at a turning point. I left the seminary because the schedule didn’t leave me any predictability, and education was calling my name. My B.Sc. doesn’t transfer here, so I’m starting from scratch, in Hebrew. It took me 4 interviews to realize that I REALLY need to improve my Hebrew before starting. Also, I’ll, G-d willing, be going to a private certification program, which is 18,000ns a year, and with the average salary being 30ns an hour, I need time to earn the money.
PAUSE FOR INFO FOR FUTURE OLIM: (skip this if that’s not you 🙂
Here’s how it works with higher education in Israel. There are schools called universities, which are public institutions that are fully funded by the government once you make aliyah. Depending on your age and prior education, you will either be able to go for a Bachelors or Masters.
It is very hard to get your Bachelors recognized here, but if you want to try, you have to go to each institution separately and see their policy.
Each university requires you to take a 6 week summer ulpan and a year of mechina (pre-college preparatory program) as well as the psychometry test (the Israeli equivalent of SAT tests) and, in most cases, the Y.A.E.L exam (Hebrew test) before beginning a 3 year Bachelors program (there’s no 4th year here).
Mechina is 5 days a week from about 8-4, depending on whether you’re going for the science or humanities track. If the university requires you to do Mechina, it’s government funded.
Then there are colleges, which are government approved institutions, and these are often smaller and more expensive. You can get up to 10,200ns a year in olim scholarships if you want to go there. Each college has its own standards, but many will not require the extensive prep which universities require.
And lastly, there are certification programs, which only offer certificates, not degrees, and they cost lots of shekel. My program, Chinese medicine, is 18,000ns a year for 4 years, and at the end, I’ll get a certificate of Chinese Medicine from the program, not the government. The government offers 7,000ns for the first year of most certificate programs. There are sometimes possabilities of getting early bird and olim discounts.
End of shpiel. Find out more here.
So, I’m back where I started, in Har Shmuel, with my cousins. It’s a real blessing to be able to lean back on them, but I’m so looking forward to independence. I find myself in negative thought patterns, going in circles wondering what I’ve done in this time and where I’m going, but I know it’s just all the questions regarding my future that are really bogging me down, and as soon as I’m on a normal schedule, I’ll feel settled.
However, on a wonderful note, I’ve been very weak and sick over the past two months, with symptoms of hypo-adrenalism that hadn’t shown up in a while (that’s not the wonderful part…). I knew I needed to see a nutritionist, and my grandmother suggested I meet with Nilli (check out her page here). Nilli is unlike any other nutritionist I’ve met. With her deep understanding of the endocrine system and the different glands in the body, she made me a custom plan, along with a list of supplements to take to re-balance my body. I’m taking it really slowly, but seriously.
Some things I love about being in Israel- the music that sprinkles Jerusalem with sound, the fact that I can take a bus 30 minutes away and be in another city, with totally different weather and culture, Bamba (yum yum melt in your mouth peanut butter snack), and married ladies with huge, colorful head coverings.
The other day, I was talking on the phone by a bus stop when a woman pushing a stroller with a baby inside asked me to help her. I hung up the phone and she plopped her baby in my hands while she put the stroller under the bus. We’re just family.
Speaking of under the bus, I wanted the driver to open the bottom, but didn’t know the word. Tachas means ‘under’ in Hebrew, so I figured the bottom of the bus was a tachtonit (it’s the same root word). I asked him to open the tachtonit, and my friend burst out laughing. Apparently, tachtonim are underwear. Luckily, the bus driver didn’t hear me.
For those of you trying to learn Hebrew, download the app Duolingo! I’m finding it really helpful. <- For real. This is not a paid advertisement.
It took a while to find ‘my people’ here, but I’ve met over 50 single girls who are here on their own, and they’ve become my community. We keep connected through Whatsapp, on a group that has grown to 100 participants, and we meet up at kumzitzes (jam sessions) and events around Jerusalem.
In other news, it feels great to be connecting back with my friends and family as I’m writing, and I hope to do it more often 🙂