Wow, January was one huge whirlwind- literally. Between serious wind turned desert storms and the end of my program, this month flew by and I haven’t had a chance to let you in on anything! So here is the past month in a nutshell:
One of my goals for January (that I wrote in my letter to myself) was to post at least once a week. Unfortunately after returning from a trip to the south the first week of January, I returned home to a broken heater and developed a pretty bad cold. Two weeks later I had some type of virus/week-long fever/plague that made my goals from January come to a screeching halt. Along with blogging, I missed out on my final week of my internship and some of the last parties while on my program. I can’t remember the last time I felt so sick, exhausted, and bored. I knew I was sick when I didn’t even want to watch some of my favorite TV shows. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again despite having a lingering cough.
But what about everything else? My life? Where am I living? What will my job be? Am I going to be homeless? These were all thoughts that were running through my head while I was sick because my program of five months was just about over. Luckily, I didn’t feel so alone. There are about 25 people from my program (of 85) who are staying in Israel for varying lengths of time. We were all in the same boat-unemployed and nearly homeless-a really great combination. By the end of the month I had two part-time job offers that would do in the meantime just so I could stay here and continue searching. I convinced my parents that I could live here, in Tel-Aviv, one of the most expensive places to live (hello protests summer 2011 over the price of cottage cheese) because I would literally do whatever I could to stay. I knew that five months was not enough time for me and I had to find a way to support myself.
Last Thursday my roommates and I woke up to rain. Normally this would be great-yay the Kinneret, so much water, (maybe a longer shower 😉 ) etc. But Thursday was the end- it was officially move out day. As in take everything that you have accumulated over the past five months and move it somewhere that is not Beit-Leni. After the final few hours of cleaning, packing, and harassing the boys to move our suitcases, bags of tupperware, and for me a bag of shoes and hangers, our rooms were empty. I was given my deposit check back, told my madrich that he was right, we did have a dog in our apartment (more on that later), and sat in my neighbor’s room staring out at the rain. It’s January 31st…the final day of our program. Where do we really go from here? As if perfectly timed I received a phone call that a job I had interviewed for two weeks before, was offering me the job. I couldn’t believe it. I literally screamed with excitement and told them I couldn’t be happier. She told me Mazal Tov and good luck with the move. I was on a high, so I hailed a cab despite the pouring rain, shoved all of my stuff in, and set out to my new apartment. This was it…the next part of my journey in Israel.
I had been dancing around finding an apartment, but everything fell into place two days before I had to move out, as the girl I would be renting a room from was in Africa on a safari and I was still unsure of my situation. But alas it worked out. I now live in an apartment off of Kikar Medina, the north part of the center of the city. While I know I don’t live in New York, I can’t help but compare my streets and neighborhood to those of Manhattan. Many would agree that where I was living the past few months would be considered downtown in the village, and where I moved now is like the Upper West Side off of Columbus Circle. My new neighborhood is a little more residential with families, and strollers everywhere (and I saw a Lexus the other day-nearly unheard of here) but a perfect 10 minute walk from some of the best parts of Tel Aviv.
The past week has been relaxing for the most part, but stressful at times as navigating life on my own is of course a challenge in a foreign country. So in between sleeping in, I have changed phone service providers,
got lost explored my new neighborhood, got lost on tried out various bus lines, and dealt with Israeli bureaucracy at it’s best.
Thursday was my final chance to get my work visa application complete before starting work. The government offices here have very odd hours depending on who you are, are closed Wednesday mornings, and are basically a huge disorganized DMV-with airport security. After finally getting to the right place I pulled ticket number 855….they were only on 805. It was 10:30 and the offices closed at 12. I started sweating-there was no way they would get to me. The past three weeks I heard horror stories of people trying to receive their documentation. While I was sick I made it to the first part of my visa application office and was told -after waiting for five hours but I watched Fashion Police on E! so it wasn’t a complete waste- that my forms weren’t even processed yet. I ran into two friends from another program who were there for their second time; I watched them in all of their frustration storm out when they learned that yet again they did not have what was needed. 12pm came and went and there were still 35 people ahead of me. At 1:20 my ticket number was up and I passed over my folder and passport. Without too many questions and a few signatures later, I had my work visa! I walked out and was taken aback by what a beautiful day it was. I decided to walk back instead of take the bus home because I was so elated that I accomplished something on my own (without the help of my madrich, or an Israeli friend in tow). It seemed that everyone on the street was also feeling how great the weather was and it seemed more people than usual were smiling as I walked home. A car passed by blasting “Positive Vibrations”, and that’s exactly what I felt. My friend and I had been discussing that January was full of high highs and low lows. There are times when this country drives me crazy. “Why can’t they do it this way? In America we do it like that.” is what I hear myself and friends saying. But alas, this is not America. And I’m thankful for that. Not that I’m seeking an escape, but rather a change of pace.
As I mentioned in my speech, I have really come to love this country for the people. There’s something different about the mentality of Israelis, and I’m trying to figure out exactly what it is. There is more depth, something I didn’t even realize was so important to me that was missing, I have found here.
So my journey continues. With many of my friends now back home, and the ones that are left spread out over the city, I am now on Career Israel-the real deal. This is what I like to think of as my Chapter 2 in my book of Life in Israel. I start my job this week and couldn’t be more excited to see what it’s going to be like. This whole month is full of exciting new adventures, that I promise to update you with, starting this week with my guest post about job searching!
In other exciting news, with so much free time I was able to check lots of my to-do list this week. One of those annoying tasks was actually pretty easy, now that I understand how smart my smart phone really is. I’ve uploaded videos from camp, Israel, and even a few clips of Oliver having his first bath. Enjoy
Here’s What I’ve Been Reading: