I can’t believe that I have been in Israel for three weeks already! While at times I have been homesick, the time has passed amazingly quickly. My time here has been great. I’ve enjoyed myself and have met people from around the United States and Israel as well as from around the world.
The past few days have been a lot of fun. Ulpan has been going well. I am using my Hebrew in conversations, albeit small and simple ones. Such words as those for yes, no, I know, etc. make it into my English conversations as well. I figure that this is a good thing and I am becoming more comfortable using Hebrew. We had our second test today in Ulpan over opposites, three verb conjugations, and infinatives. After the test, our teacher gave us carrot cake that she made. It was really good.
I’ve spent parts of the past three afternoons at the campus pool which is used by a lot of people from around Be’er Sheva and is conveniently located across the street from the dorms. Today I also played volleyball, but not too well. On Tuesday, I started talking to some kids in the pool who only knew a little English. There were two boys and three girls and between all of us we were able to have a conversation. A different boy asked one of the girls from Germany if he could watch her and she told him that she was almost old enough to be his mother. He then turned to me and asked me in Hebrew to tell her that he was 18. I was amused.
On Monday night we saw the Israeli movie Walk on Water about an Israeli intelligence agent searching for a Nazi in hiding. Tuesday, we walked to the Be’er Sheva monument which commemorates the Palmach who fought for Israel’s independence. There, we looked out over the city of Be’er Sheva and the surrounding area and watched the sunset. Later that evening a group of us went to karaoke at a place called Black and White behind the dorms. I figured that I would just listen but I ended up singing two songs – "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" (with someone else) and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" (by myself; I love The Lion King). It was a good time. Last night we had a potluck dinner and then hung out and listened to people play the guitar. Tonight we just took it easy.
Tomorrow I am going to Jerusalem with our Overseas Student Program (OSP). We are going to Yad VaShem, the Israel Holocaust Memorial Museum, and then on to the Old City and the Kotel (Western Wall). I am interested to see what my reaction to Yad VaShem will be like. The last time I was there was in 2005 after I had just spent a week in Poland and I didn’t feel as affected by Yad VaShem as I had thought I would. I expect that this will be quite the opposite experience. After the Old City, the OSP group is coming back to Be’er Sheva, but a bunch of people are staying in Jerusalem for Shabbat. I will be staying with a friend’s sister who I have never met. She belongs to a liberal Modern Orthodox synagogue. It should be a good time.
I hope the next three weeks of Ulpan and the rest of my time here in Israel go as well as the beginning has.