October 29, 2008

...and it begins...

So we are here. Well, right now I am at my dad's house, but we are officially enrolled and participating in the ULPAN program at kibbutz Ein Hashofet. We made the move Sunday morning around 9 and dad and Simi took us. We arrive by making an entrance that only Paris and Nicole would make. Our dad drives into the kibbutz and all on the sidewalk to get us as close as possible to our room, because of course we brought like 5 suitcases, tons of bedding and pillows from our savta's house and so many bags of food and other supplies- it was almost embarrassing how much stuff we brought with us. We get out and it hits me, no turning back now. We haul our stuff to our room, making at least 4 trips from the car, while passing other fellow Ulpanists who I will later describe. We had seen our room initially when we came to meet with Elka, the director of the Ulpan program at this kibbutz, last Thursday, but now it was more depressing than ever. Picture a tiny dorm room with hospital white walls with holes in them from previous occupants, 2 twin size beds on either side of the room with a lonely green desk separating them. I let out the biggest sigh ever as my eyes filled with tears but I choked them back to be strong, I mean, really- I put myself in this position so I had to deal with it. So first things first, we said bye to dad and Simi and began unpacking and decorating. During one of the trips we made from the car to the room we met Rivka, an 18 year-old girl from Philidelphia and Z'ev from Toronto, Canada and they had informed us that we were to meet everyone in front of the classroom, which is right acroos from our "unit" at 11, it was 10. We did as much as we could to our pathetic room and then met everyone at 11 where the Hebrew teachers conducted individual interviews to determine which Hebrew class to place each student. I was placed in Kitah Bet (Class B), which is the more advanced of the two because I can understand and sort of read and write, and they asked Mirelle to go to Kitah Alef (A) and Bet (B) for the first week so they could see which one she would fit into most. After that was over we socialized and found out where everyone was from and what they were doing there...there are people from all over, San Francisco, Texas, Japan, New Mexico, Argentina, France...really makes for funny people. Anyways, so we continued to organize our room and put our belongings up until 3, when we had to meet everyone again in a meeting room by the dining hall for a tour and to go over guidelines and expectations. So everything went well and in this meeting we were designated jobs. Mirelle will be working with kids in the nursery starting next week and I was told I would work in the laundry room. Whatever. So after the tour and stuff we hung out and "stooped," hanging out on people's porchs, until we were tired and then went to bed.

So the Ulpan program consists of working 3 days a week and going to Hebrew class 3 days a week, my school days since I'm in Kitah Bet are Sunday, Tues and Thur and my work days are Mon, Wed, Fri. For Kitah Alef it's the opposite, work Sun, Tues, Thur and school Mon, Wed, Fri. So Monday morning...I go to the Ulpan office and see Elka and she tells me that they dont need anyone to work in the laundry room and that there has been a mistake and I am to work in the factory. I had been expecting to work in the factory all along because that's what this kibbutz is known for is it's 2 factories, but was kind of like Ugh. So she hands me work boots, navy cargo pants with half an elastic waist and a black shirt. Im like NOOOOO. I go change in my room choking back tears once more from mere shock of the situation and go back ot her office and her assistant Locha leads the way for me and this guy Shay, who is also from Dallas. Ironic? (There's also a girl here that graudated from UT!! Small World) Anyways, so we walk to Mivrag, the name of the factory I work at, and I am just overwhelmed, theres so much machinery and there are loud noises and its just seems intimidating and scary. We go in and meet the boss man, Adrian, and his assistant, Shlomo, and immediatly begin working. No explanation of what is expected of you, or filling out paperwork or like background or anything. I didnt know what the hell was going on, I was just basically put in front of a task and was told to do it, I mean they explained to me what to do but not why or anything about the factory at all. So now I know. I am working at the factory on the kibbutz that makes and manufactures nails, screws, bolts and things of that sort and I am in the packaging unit. So I basically am taping boxes and moving nails and screws from big metal containers to small cardboard boxes for them to be shipped out. It's really boring work, mind numbing at times, but thanks to Chris I have an iPod and am listening to that thing all day! The good side to this job is that this factory is actually closed on Fridays so I only have to work 2 days a week. I did the math- 2 times 4 weeks in a month= 8 times 5 months= 40. Only 40 times to work. And I've already been twice, so now only 38. haha! Anyways, I went to Hebrew class on Tuesday and enjoyed it. We mosltly spoke and wrote and read out loud and I feel like I am on par with the others in the class. Most of the other people in my class, or in the ulpan program in general know Hebrew because they took it in school in America. Everyone is always to interested to hear about my living here for 2 years during elementary. Its funny how much I am remembering just because of how intensely I learned Hebrew during that time.

So, yeah. That's about it. It's now 11:15 pm and we have to be up at 6:15 to go back to the kibbutz, I have my 2nd day of Hebrew class tomorrow...so much more to write but it will have to be in the next post.

And Janae, (shoutout!-haha) A kibbutz is like a form of communal living. There are permanite (sp) residents that live on kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz) and there are always volunteers who are basically young people who are traveling around countries and need a place to stay for a while so they give them work and pay them some money. But at a kibbutz there is like everything you need (if your living style is very basic), a library, dining hall, pub, grocery store, laundry room, schools, factories for working, medical center, bus stop, pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, cows, agriculture like avacados and fruit...hope that helps!

October 24, 2008

Things Mirelle and I miss like crazzzyy...

1. Chris/ friends/ family
2. Forever 21
3. Target/ Walmart
4. Taco Bell
5. normal tasting grapefruit juice
6. Chili's queso
7. my car/ driving when I please
8. mom's chocolate chip cookies
9. house parties
10. naked burritos

Things Mirelle and I love here like crazzzyy...

1. schwarma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. chocolate milk in a sack (ew, sounds gross, but such a good idea!)
3. that Mirelle is legal and can go out with me :)
4. spending time with our fam here
5. speaking English so people don't understand us
6. this country- its beautiful!
7. traveling around and not knowing where we are, but knowing that we will know where we are at all times soon enough
8. the suspense of this adventure
9. each other, we have gotten so close
10. how different the culture is, from malls, to pubs, to homes, to restaurants, to pharmacies....

October 20, 2008

nothing new

Just a quick post to say whats up. right now dad and our brother johnny are grilling out, they are preparing kebobs, chicken and simi is making "chips," aka french fries, and salad. tomorrow is the end of the holiday sukkot so today is like "the day before the end of the holiday" so everyone makes a nice lunch or dinner or whatever- we will prob eat in the sukkah one last time. mel and i have been just wasting time waiting to make our move to the kibbutz. eating lunch at our savta's house and going out with jonathan. we went to check out our kibbutz and walk around yesterday and it was nice, very big and spacious. it was pretty with flowers everywhere and people riding bikes. we even saw an 80 year old resident in his underwear- haha! the dining hall was big and the food looked great- there was like a salad bar and there were beans and rice, bread, dessert...ill give more details once im there.

anyways, regarding amy's comment to my last post...schwarma is like a mixture of lamb, beef and turkey meat wrapped on a large skewer with the fat of the lamb sitting on top to drizzle flavor down the meat. you slice it off vertically and then season it and stuff it in a pita with whatever toppings you want. like tomatos, olives, pickles, lettuce, peppers...i just get it plain. mel enjoys it with tomatos.

alright, well going to help cook now but will write again soon!

October 16, 2008


I'm really bad at thinking of blog titles, maybe that's why Im not so inclined to blog everyday. Oh well, anyways...SO.

Mirelle and I went to the beach in Haifa a couple days ago with Jonathan and his friends. Well actually he told us he was going to take us out on his boat, then we drive to the beach and park the car and I was like "Where's the boat?" He kinda brushed it off and Mirelle and I just started cracking up and got over it and had fun playing in the water and laying out. The beach is so beautiful. The water was warm and the sand felt soo good an the scenery, unreal. Mirelle and I took turns laughing at people wearing speedos and ugly old guys wearing short shorts running. We also took turns playing Matkot, its like ping pong without a table and I love it. It got really windy so we couldnt play after a while, so windy that the umbrella we were laying under blew away and the guys had to chase after it down the beach. Too funny for words. Mirelle and I couldnt stop laughing- we are having a blast hanging out together! So after the beach we came home and were supposed to shower and go to our Aunt Yael's house (Jonathans mom), but were kinda stuck. The phone here at dad's house isnt able to call local cell phones, its like blocked or something, and no one was here so we couldn't use anyones cell phone or call anybody, and we couldnt find Simi's car keys so we couldnt just drive over there- it was a mess. So we just hung out and then went to a pub called Morrison with Jonathan later that night (luckily he finally called us at like 11). We were drinking Gold Star, which is the equivalent of our Budweiser or Miller, and having fun making fun of ppl, of course, when our group decided to go to the dance floor. We were with Jonathan, his friend and another guy and his girlfriend. The bar was playing really great dance music, like Rihanna and "Apple Bottom Jeans" (haha- so old!!!) so we went to dance, and first of all the dance floor was the size of like my kitchen, SO SMALL, and so crowded but I felt like breaking it down so I started dancing with Mel and shaking my head and whipping my hair (which is how I dance, Marli can relate) and this guy behind me said in Hebrew to "calm down and chill out" HAHA! I looked around and everyone else was just kind of steping side to side shaking their hips, lame. After that little ego breaker incident Mel and I just went and sat back down to chill out for a while. We left shortly after and as we were walking to the car there was a sign for the Bahai Gardens and I was able to see part of them, definetly going back there to see them during the day. Google them or check out this website for pics: http://www.bahaipictures.com/

So last night Mirelle and I went with Simi and the little ones to meet dad at this like festival thing for the holiday Sukkot. This festival was put on by the really religious people of the community, like the Rabbi looking people that wear black suits and have the curly q's on the side of their hair...yeah wow. We met dad there because he is helping this guy run for mayor or the city and he was there campaigning, trying to convince ppl to vote for this guy. Anyways, there were like jumpy things and a DJ and train rides for the kids. Mirelle and I just sat there in disbelief that we were there- It was so weird, we def stuck out like a sore thumb. Anyways, so we walked to a nearby store and bought popcicles and just kind of waited to go home. After about an hour we left and came home for supper. We had rice with meat balls on top and yummy salad of tomatos and cucumbers with lemon juice and olive oil. After eating I passed out on the couch and when I awoke everyone had gone to bed, so that was that, I went upstairs and rea about 3 chapters of my Chelsea Handler book and fell asleep. I have 2 chapters left, going through hat book so fast, its so funny, I wish she would come out with another one already!!!

So today we have just been hanging around the house with the girls, Mai brushed my hair for hours and we were just watching E! and our Sex & The City DVDs. We had chicken schnitzel and salad for lunch and dad just got home and think were getting schwarma for dinner, our favorite.

October 11, 2008

Week 1

So, we're here. The trip was fine, exhasting, but fine. We flew to Charlotte, then New York, then popped some sleeping pills and boarded El Al. That flight was a good 10 hours, but we slept through most of it, not getting up once- talk about a need to stretch! We only got emotional like twice and that was because we were listening to songs on our iPods that reminded us of friends or whatever. We were fine after a while, realized that we were actually going throught with this thing and there was no point in being upset. At least we have each other.

Landed in Tel Aviv with dad and stepsister Mika waiting for us. We made the hour and a half drive to Ramat Yishay where we had a nice Shabbat dinner at dad's house with our saba and savta. We blessed the wine and bread and said prayers and ate salad, chicken, potatos and cuscos. After dinner I drove us to a nearby Pub where we had some coronas and cocktails. The bar style is so different here, so laid back..like martinis are served in plain tall glasses and they didnt know what a "dressed" beer was...when I asked for salt on my corona they brought me a salt shaker. Kinda cute.

After the pub Mika, Mirelle and I came home to relax in the newly added jacuzzi in dad's backyard, or back area, because there's not really a yard. We started Sex & The City but fell asleep shortly after and Mirelle and I slept till like noon! When we woke up it felt like it was 6 or 7 p.m, it will take another day or two for our bodies to adjust to the time change.

Our halfsisters, Mai and Leonne, are in love with us. They were shy when we first met, but have warmed up and wont leave Mirelle and I alone. They follow us and do what we do, they are sooooo cuuuuttteee! We have been learning Hebrew words from them and we're teaching them English words. Sometimes I wonder if the understand that we are sisters, dad would always talk about us to them and show them pictures but I mean, they are 4 and 5 so will they remember these times were spending together? Anyways, really enjoying being around them.

October 8, 2008

Here we go...

So, Mirelle and I leave tomorrow. Wow- That in itself is a mouthful. I am feeling anxious and excited to be submerged in the Israeli culture and see dad and family and travel, but sad that Israel has to be so damn far away! I will miss everyone so much. I was just getting used to being around the house and seeing friends weekly. 5 months sounds like a short period of time when you think about how its only a semester, but I'm sure at times it will seem like 5 years. I will miss the comforts here, but that's kind of the reason I decided to go. I want to gain some independence and just learn about myself and my religion and tone my lifestyle down. Sounds corny, but I feel like I take many things for granted and this trip might open my eyes a bit.