I asked my teacher if everything that we saw on the cancer would be on the test. She looked confused. That’s when I learned that sirton (film) and sartan (cancer) are not the same thing.
Earlier this year, I accidentally told my classmate I was pregnant when what I meant to say was, “I don’t feel like learning acupuncture today.” Don’t ask how those two concepts sound even remotely similar in any language, but point is, she thought she was the first to know.
I’d say these two incidences are an adequate abridged synopsis of my first year of school in Hebrew; a culmination of incorrect expressions, occasional miming, and lots of Hebrish.
Hebrish is actually one of the most common spoken languages in Israel; you hear it on buses, in supermarkets, and on the street. It’s a combo of Hebrew and English spoken in the same conversation, with varying percentages of either language in every sentence. Ratios range from 1:20 words of Hebrew:words of English, and stretch to the opposite extreme as well.
There’s no school you can learn it in, but I mastered it in the college hallway during breaks. It’s pretty effective, and I’d say that the majority of American immigrants speak it.
In all seriousness, I’ve improved more in the area of stress management than language. Studying used to be my gig, but preparing for tests in Hebrew required me to create a new studying model, since I couldn’t just scan and memorize the material.
It turned out to be an extremely overwhelming process. If you were to spy on me trying to study mid-year, you’d see a candle filled with essential oils lit next to my bed and me attempting to give myself an anxiety-reducing pep talk, occasionally interrupted by clips of The Voice or by TED talks for a shameful and hereby undisclosed amount of time. Just opening the book to begin was hard.
It wasn’t the material that was difficult. It was facing the fear of failure and accepting that I may just feel stupid for the next few years.
My current method is slightly more functional, though not ideal. I basically translate all the material into English and then teaching it to myself before the test. Yeah, it takes forever.
Fear crops up in me very often, and it’s a real conscious effort to plow through it. Even now that I’ve finally settled into a solid routine, I know that this coming school year, I’ll have to start working part time and going to school full time, which is the opposite of what I did this past year. I don’t know how I’ll be able to work enough, take care of my health and other responsibilities, and study without crashing. There aren’t any easy answers, but it will work itself out, as life tends to do.
I meditated on it, why I so often feel panicked, and have come to internalize that the more I make an effort to notice Hashem supporting me, the more I trust the process.
My mother recently sent me what turned out to be a life-changing book, The Surrender Experiment, by Michael Singer. It’s about the author’s experience surrendering to the flow of life and trusting that each opportunity will lead him somewhere good. It made me think; what if life is only hard when I put up resistance to it? How would life change if I looked at each event and feeling that came my way with curiosity, wondering what good surprise will come from it instead of worrying what will be?
I’ve been approaching each day the past two weeks with this perspective, and it has put me so at ease and at peace with whatever unpredictability the day presents. More than that, I see that things are working out smoother. Like last week, when I forgot my wallet and didn’t have enough time to go back without missing the last bus. As I was crossing the street to the bus stop, I nearly ran into Mr. Kristall-weiss, a man I know from Baltimore, who kindly gave me 10 shekel, which I then used to catch the bus 1 minute later.
It’s made me feel more grounded and in tune with my emotions, but most importantly, it’s filled me with gratitude by helping me see all the blessings I am given without any effort of my own.
One year down in the school of Chinese medicine and hopefully many more in the school of life.