Testing in School, A Trip Up North, and Preparing for Paris! Another couple of weeks here.

Sorry I haven’t gotten a chance to write sooner. I usually write my new posts on Tuesday or Wednesdays but this past week my usual time slot was taken up by a different task. I am meeting my mom in Paris this week (in 4 days to be exact); so I put aside my blog time for the week to make an itinerary. I have never been to Paris and my mom said that we can do whatever I want during the trip so I thought it best to have some ideas of what to do and where to go each day. That way we can make the most of our time there.  I’m not going to get into the whole itinerary right now because you will hear about the whole trip in my next post. But I will say we are hitting all the major touristy spots with some necessary stops that remind me of home such as urban outfitters and Starbucks. Both of which don’t exist in Israel. I keep dreaming about all the food I’m going to eat. Macaroons, French onion soup, and crepes are definitely at the top of the list. Counting down the days!!

School this week was pretty quiet compared to the brawl that broke out last week. Both our fifth and sixth grade classes have finished up their units and we are giving tests this week. Hanukkah break starts on Wednesday which means only one more days left of school. It’s the longest stretch of school we’d had so far since the first few months are filled with holiday breaks. I’m excited to just get some time off.

Last week there was more excitement in our apartment. I woke up Thursday to a bunch of frantic texts from my roommates. Apparently a pipe burst and water was leaking into or neighbors apartment coming down from the ceiling and into both her bathrooms and kitchen. She came upstairs at 7am and knocked on our door. My roommate Kayleigh answered and was dragged downstairs to our neighbors apartment. She showed her the damage. Since I get a late start on Thursdays, I waited around for our landlord. I showed him that there was some water in the hallway in front of our door, seemingly coming from the marble wall. And then I took him downstairs. My neighbor was very happy as her own landlord hadn’t come yet. She was really friendly and invited me inside and offered me some tea. I noticed that her apartment was the same exact layout as ours and the tiny room that Iris and I used to share before we moved to a bigger room was being used as a storage closet. Anyway later that day I got home from school and there was a guy ripping off the floor and working on the pipes. He told me that the leak wasn’t from our apartment but the one next door. So yay, we didn’t break anything!

This past Thursday night I went out in Tel Aviv with my friend Diana who lives in Petach Tikvah.  We met at one of my favorite restaurants called Giraffe. It’s an Asian chain restaurant that has really good noodle dishes for pretty cheap. From there we walked to a bar right down Ibn Gabirol. I had been there a couple times with people from birthright. We ordered wine with hot cider which has quickly become my favorite drink. There’s not that much alcohol in it but it’s so yummy and it comes with dried apples in it. Also it was only 15 shekels because of happy hour so it fits my budget. Halfway through our drinks some lady approached our table selling good luck tokens and coins that supposedly would help Diana and I conquer our fears. She gave us a five minute speech about how some class changed her life and it was her goal to sell these coins. She told us she would sell each of us one for only fifty shekels each. My response was pretty much “yeah f***ing right” (trying to keep this as PG rated as possible). I offered her ten shekels for one just to get her away from us. It’s a cool token that says Israel post office on the back in Hebrew. It also says telephone on it so maybe it’s some old pay phone coin. Who knows.

Later that night the waitress brought two shots over to our table and told us they were from these guys at a table nearby. I smelled the shot and discovered it was tequila. This was a wine and cider kind of night, not a tequila shot night. We offered them to the couple at the table next to us, but they too did not seem keen on the shots either. We just kind of put them to the side, trying to avoid awkward eye contact with the 30 year olds who bought them for us. A few minutes later the waitress came back over and told us shyly that the shots actually weren’t meant for us. One of the guy’s wife was sitting at a table next to us and wanted to send shots to her and her friend. The waitress apologized a lot but we told her not to worry that we didn’t even want the shots anyway. The night ended with a bit of indulgence, a waffle ice cream sundae that was so good.

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Apple cider & wine, waffle sundae, tequila shots : sums up our night

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Rabin Square lit up at night.

My boyfriend and I walked around the shuk area this weekend. We bought a lot of candy from the candy stand where you can mix and match different types of jellies. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on the candy but it should last me for a while. We also walked to Neve Tzedek, a really quiet and cute area near the shuk. We found this amazing frozen yogurt place called Anita. I had eaten there with my brother when I visited him last year and it’s my favorite because they put toppings on the bottom, then the yogurt, and then more toppings. We then drove to Jaffa and picked up some Shwarma to eat for lunch. It was actually the first Shwarma that I’ve eaten since I’ve been here. I ate it every day when I was here on birthright but I just hadn’t had it since. It was so yummy I forgot how good it was.

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My frozen yogurt before.

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And after.

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Schwarmaaaaaaaaa

Side note I finished the second book by J.K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith. It’s called the Silkworm and it was almost as good as the first one. I couldn’t put it down all weekend.

Yesterday was a really long day. We had a twelve hour seminar with our program. It was really interesting despite the fact that I couldn’t keep my eyes open once we arrived home. It started with a 645am departure from Rishon. Then we headed up to Haifa to visit a multicultural center. The center hosts various events that tries to bring Arab Israelis together with Jewish Israelis. We saw an art exhibition that shows art created by members of the center. Then we drove to a Druze village. Druze is a different religion in Israel. It’s pretty cool because the Druze people are totally loyal to the country that they live in. We learned all about the culture and the history behind the religion. The most interesting thing to me was that only the religious Druze can know what’s written in their religious books. They can choose to be secular and religious, but if they choose the secular life then they cannot know what is written in the books. Only the religious members can study and read it. Also the Druze are very similar to the Amish in the sense that if you marry outside of the community you are excommunicated. Then we had an delicious meal prepared by the family who we were talking to.

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Our meal at the Druze village!

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Quick photo I took on the bus of the Christmas tree in Haifa!

After that was our last stop of the day. An Arab high school. We got to hear from an English teacher in the school and then talk to the students. It was very interesting to hear their opinions about different issues on Israeli society. The girl I was talking to said that English was her favorite subject and had actually lived in New York City for a few years when she was little. She also added that “Jewish, Israeli, Arab, Muslim,” she didn’t “really get involved with all of that”. She lived well and that’s all that mattered and she likes everyone no matter what their religion is. Interestingly we had to discuss a time when we felt a little scared, threatened, or out of place. The boy who I was talking to and I both said the same place: Temple Mount. It was for slightly different reasons. Mine being that I was a foreigner there and definitely stuck out like a sore thumb, and his because of all the violence that occurs there. If I don’t feel safe there and neither does he, then who does feel safe there? After the talk we ate some pita the students had prepared for us and went home.

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A hill looking over village of the school we visited.

Also a few weeks ago my brother and I were interviewed for a jewish newspaper from our town and the article came out last week. Read all about the program I’m on and our experiences in Israel! : http://jstandard.com/content/item/masa-ing_english_in_israel/

That’s all for now. My next post will come after my trip to Paris!!!!

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