So I’m finally here. We got in on Monday afternoon, after a flight that, happily, was actually pretty nice. I didn’t have any trouble getting on the plane in New York–granted, the cute El Al guy questioning me was a bonus–and even managed to score a great seat on the plane. I fell asleep somewhere around Iceland, woke up over Greece, and arrived in Tel Aviv a happy, well-rested camper.
My roommate, Jen, is awesome. She’s another grad student from the U.S., and we get along like two peas in a pod. Not that peas actually ever interact, but you get my point. In any case, it’s a good setup. We’re in the same Hebrew class, so this leads to lots of vocab quizzing while applying makeup in the morning.
The intensive Hebrew, while I’m thinking of it, has been pretty good thus far. It took me a few days to really get my feet on the ground, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s great. I keep saying “yes” in Arabic, though, which I think is disconcerting for my Orthodox Jewish teachers. They know it’s Arabic, and they usually give me a “who are you, really?” look whenever I slip up. Honest, guys, I’m just an Irish girl from the States.
As far as security goes, I’m completely desensitized to all the security layers here. Maybe living in D.C. prepared me for this–which I suspect is the case–since Jen, who’s from Louisiana, was initially shocked by the frequency with which we get wanded and hand over our bags for searches. In any case, if you’ve ever visited the Smithsonian, handed over your ID in order to get into your office building, or warily looked around for bags without owners, it’s not all that different here. The only marked difference is my feelings about buses. I’m not cool with them. I’m not riding on them while I’m here. Ever.
I’ve walked by many a bus stop, however, and have noticed that a lot of Israelis, for their part, are totally lacking in manners. Lines don’t exist here. Instead, there are amorphous blobs of pushing, expletive-muttering people that congregate around offices, cashiers, and other places where you’d expect some semblance of order. Not so much. In Israel, there are little old ladies who’ll mow you over if you don’t make your move first. Younger people couldn’t care less about mortally wounding the little old ladies by doing just that. I’m trying to get a little more pushy, and am making an effort to bust out the hockey skills by occasionally throwing an elbow. Just not on somebody’s grandma.
More to come next week, when hopefully I’ll be telling people in Hebrew to kindly get the hell out of my way.