Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Can't Believe I'm in Israel!

My first blog post in Israel! Sorry it's multiple days combined...I tried writing some every day, but wasn't able to find enough time to whip out my computer until now!

Mom & Dad drove me to the airport Saturday morning, and I had an 11:00am flight to JFK on American Airlines. Of course, the second I get through security, I head straight to Starbucks for my final iced soy caramel macciato upside-down for 10 months. Let's just say that while I will miss my Starbucks immensely, I'm so excited for all the Aroma I want. Flight went well…they showed "The Lucky One," but I thought it was super cheesy and was just overall to anxious about my second flight to really focus. So instead, I bought some wifi and distracted myself with it for most of the flight, as well as tried reading a little bit more of my Kindle (currently reading Crossed by Ally Condie, for all those interested).

Once I got to JFK around 7:30, I was all set to take the AirTrain from terminal 8 to terminal 4…super easy, right? Well, not when the AirTrain is broken. We were instructed to go down to baggage claim and their was supposed to be a bus running to all the terminals. Little did we know it would take at least 20 minutes for a bus to come. I got so desperate and sick of waiting that I almost got a taxi with 2 other people trying to get to terminal 4. But of course, once we got in line for the taxi, the bus came. So all was well. Security at El Al was just fine, and with time to kill I grabbed some food at Panda Express, talked to my parents, and checked Facebook :) I eventually went a got a snack for the plane, and when I got back another girl from my program, Melody, found me and we hung out until the flight. I'm at least 15 rows in front of her, and the opposite side of the plane, so if we don't visit on the plane we'll meet up when we get off.

The second flight = SUPER LONG. 10 hours, to be exact. I thankfully slept for the first 6 hours or so, but with 4 hours left I was slowly going to go crazy just thinking that I'm almost in Israel. I did watch "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" on my computer, and was drifting off during it. There are 2 young sisters sitting next to me, and just my luck the one next to me threw up twice…oh boy *rolls eyes* so fun! We landed around 5:15 Israel time, and met up with Melody after we got off to make our way to customs and baggage. We couldn't find anyone in the group, so we went ahead and got our luggage, and decided to just walk outside in case they were there. We were the last flight, so we left as soon as everyone on our flight met up with the group. It was a nice bus ride, just after awhile we all went dead silent because of how tired we all were. We were greeted with the remains of dinner that night, and after a very brief introduction we all hung out a bit before heading to bed for the night. We are currently staying at Givat Haviva in the north, where a bunch of IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers who either are not Jewish or made aliyah come for training. There are 4 of us from Ma'ase Olam (3 from my program, Israeli Teacher Fellows, and 1 from the Israeli Service Fellows program) in TINY room. Like, the room and bathroom combined might not even be as large as my room at home. It's a tight space, but we all are getting along great so that helps!

Monday was our first full day of Ma'ase Olam training. I luckily had my melatonin, so I had taken it Sunday night to fall asleep. Didn't wake up once! I feel bad for everyone who was up at 4:00am! After breakfast, the Israeli Teaching Fellows group met for a morning of getting to know each other and start learning more about the program. After lunch, we had more time with the group, and the founder and director of Maase, Mike Nevo, came to speak to us. He was a great speaker, but I feel so bad because I was definitely drifting to sleep during it. We pretty much did a lot bonding as a group yesterday, which will really help. After dinner we hung out around the dining hall for a while, and then watched the 2nd half of "Easy A." By 11 or so, I was definitely exhausted and ready for bed!

I didn't take my Melatonin last night, but I only woke up once during the night briefly. This morning we did an activity involving drawing maps of Israel, and then our group spent a lot of time discussing the year and details such as living arrangements, holidays, etc. It was really helpful, but still a lot of unanswered questions! We also learned a lot about the school year, and the ITF training that starts on Sunday. We also took a Hebrew placement exam for ulpan…let's just say I don't remember much, even with Milken and a few semesters at IU. This will definitely be a struggle! We were lucky and had a LONG break after lunch, which involved finding wifi, laying on the grass while others played frisbee, and walking around Givat Haviva. This afternoon we did outdoor group bonding, similar to what we did my summers at camp at the ropes course. It was long and hot, but we got to make our dinner which was pretty sweet! I helped make pita to go with cheese, tahini, Israeli salad, Indian eggs (an egg inside of a baked potato), and banana boats for desert! 

So far it's been a great experience…it's been so hard to answer people when they ask how everything is. It's weird because we've been at Givat Haviva all week, and will be here until Saturday…so we haven't seen much of Israel. I'm so excited to move into my apartment (more on that later) and start exploring Israel! I'm also glad I finally figured out how to call people in Israel properly so I can see my camp friends and what not :) It's definitely been overwhelming so far, but I'm so excited to keep going!

I promise pictures will come soon! Feel free to iMessage, Whatsapp, email, FB, etc! I don't have constant wifi this week, but I should starting Saturday night (and then I can actually FaceTime & Skype!).

Love & miss you all!!!

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