A bit better.

Its gone a bit quiet on the table front, as we’ve hit a few weeks of challenge. The post below I didn’t intend to publish at the time of writing, because it rang a little on the negative side, but now that I feel I can update positively on some of the issues I’m giving it to you anyway.


Challenge came in many forms. Culture stress was the underlying buzz. For someone who loves to be in charge it just was a bit too debilitating not to know how to win over official people on the phone, communicate your point when looking for lost property or deal with holiday opening (and closing!) times that nobody grasps the rationale for. There are a lot of public holidays in Israel in the spring term. Who thought they’d even stop the country running on Election Day! Add on to that a few unexpected personal situations that cause you to wonder how the next few months will pan out, and you just feel a little over the edge as opposed to riding on it bravely.


I’m not sure that we’ve come out the other end of all of that; culturally, we’re only just starting (at least though we now know that when they keep asking you for ID and perform their security checks on you, it’s better not to argue about it, but make small talk; I really enjoyed my little informative chat with an officer the other day and felt like I’d been let in on the hot talk with the cool guys wearing guns). Our language skills are dire. We literally learn about a word per week. Our own fault, I know.


But the sun is shining a lot now, we have finally got a car and are mobile to explore places that take our breath away and meet with stunning people we could not otherwise have done. We’ve floated on the dead sea, celebrated Passover, which coincided with Easter this year, at Lake Galilee and even did a little archaeology (well, we listened to a wonderful, spirit filled archaeologist) at Qumran and Masada. In short, we managed to enjoy the good life a little and as a result, I can now smile back at the lifeguard who still graciously pulls out my private pool owned swimming cap each time his duty coincides with my swims. I’ve not seen the aqua-joggers again, though, so I need to check the pool timetable for a good fix of water swag. And only to mention the best things last, my Korean friend from upstairs has been teaching me to make Kimchi. More about that next time.

A bit annoyed

This week I’m feeling what I’ve been waiting for since day 3, really. The adverse effects of being somewhere entirely different. Culture shock. D2. Whatever you might call it it’s good to recognise it and try to take it in good humour.
Like today, when at the pool, I am being made to wear a cap because of my “long hair”. It is so frustrating that I have no way of explaining to the male life guard the injustice that all those men in the pool who have chest hair like grizzlies which they pull along with them don’t have to wear a full body wet suit. I exhaust myself and give him the full lecture anyway, but of course he doesn’t understand me in my heightened state of angst and anger and only replies “toda” – thank you.

At least I try to make myself laugh at the fact that “the office” for our dorms make every effort to keep us aware of the (completely irrelevant) fact that should we wish to reserve housing for next academic year, we will need to come on the list now. They e-mail, they call, they even send someone round with a print out of the e-mail, all on one and the same day. They still haven’t told us how much the rent is for staying here, but they do want us to know that it’s time to reserve housing now. But then, when I call the number they say to call for further information, the man on the phone just shouts at me, as what I should have done is send an e-mail?! I am so angry, it transpires into how I view every other Israeli man I come across. I get annoyed at their kippas, even, they seem to symbolise a different thing for anyone who wears them, but I would never know what, and I feel that urge to say “what are you trying to tell me with that kippa, that you can’t say to my face!” But of course I could never say that.

I rage at the silly fact that I can’t distinguish a price tag that tells you the price of strawberries in pounds from that of kilos and so I have to pay twice what I think I should pay (and what they cost last week).

In short, my aversion levels feel acute. And I just want to hear someone say something like “tea?” and then not need to explain that I’d quite like some milk in it. At least my husband is a proper Brit (and can make that sort of cuppa). I miss the rest of you lot.