November, like the months before it, was packed with teaching, Hebrew classes, Masa events, fun, and travel. However, instead of telling you all about the kids at my school, the amazing week-long leadership conference I went to, how in love I am with Tel Aviv, or the Great Depression of November 8th (aka the day I had to console all my American roomies the only way I know how… with fluffy pancakes and maple syrup), I decided to go a different route. This month I will showcase what life in Israel is like and my favourite parts about living here through the lens of Snapchat.
Going to the beach pretty much whenever you want
I won’t lie, I had a little bit of FOMO scrolling through Facebook and seeing all my friends picking apples in fall layers and cute oversized scarves. For a second, I felt the starting pangs of homesickness, but then I quickly realized that I can take a short bus ride to the beach in the middle of November and I would take that over a PSL and rainy October skies any day. FOMO averted.
Discovering new watering holes
Bracelet bars. If you don’t know what that is, you haven’t spent enough time in Israel. I’m not sure why this idea hasn’t kicked off anywhere else in the world because it’s pretty much perfect. It’s a stunningly simple concept: go to any of the number of bracelet bars in Tel Aviv, buy a bracelet that corresponds to your brand of poison, and get an unlimited number of refills for the entire night. I’ll give you a minute to process that. Throw in some upbeat music, fez hats, and beautiful Israelis (found in abundance around the country), and it’s the perfect mix for a night out.
This honestly deserves it’s own blog post, but I will try and keep my ode to the boureka brief. These heavenly pillows of cheese, potato, or mushrooms are like little clouds of joy brought down to earth by baby angels themselves. Do you know when is the best time to enjoy a boureka? Always. It’s always time for bourekas. On your way to work. On your way home from work. As an accompaniment to dinner, or just dinner on its own. Late night drunk food. Leftover bourekas for breakfast. (Just kidding, there’s no such thing as leftover bourrekas). There’s no occasion in The Holy Land that doesn’t call for bourekas.
Exploring all the country has to offer
Being here for a year gives me ample time to explore all the amazing wonders in this tiny country. Through weekend trips with my program, visiting any of my hundreds of family members around the country, or renting a car and roadtripping with some friends, traveling through the land of Israel is, undeniably, one of the best parts of being here. A word of advice: make sure you get the rental insurance.
Oh ya, I’m actually here to work
I know it may not seem like it, but I am here to work. Not only work, but teach English to kids who have little to no knowledge of the language, and let me tell you, it is hard. It’s also rewarding, challenging, and sometimes just good old fun. Some moments I scratch my head in confusion, often I want to pull my hair out, and sometimes I want to jump for joy when I see that proverbial lightbulb go off. These kids make sure that there is never a dull (or silent) moment.
Meeting new people from all over the world
One of the wonderful things about Masa is that the program gives you the opportunity to meet and foster friendships with people from all around the world. I always find it eye opening to see the multitude of backgrounds and cultures represented in this program, and to see complete strangers from every corner of the earth band together for a common purpose is pretty amazing.
My new Spotify playlist of Israeli music has become my go-to music
I have a love/hate relationship with Israeli music. The hate comes mostly from torturous car rides as a kid with my mother’s tacky Israeli music playing always a little too loud, the same songs which I would again need to endure at the weekly summer folk dancing sessions I got dragged to. But now that I’ve discovered the “cool” and young Israeli music, the hip hop and dance music and reggaeton, our apartment’s pre-gaming playlist has taken on new life. You know that you’re hachi israeli when you plan a mesibah behaifa with your golden boy but your girl rak rotzah lirkod, and then you realize that as long as you have a phone and a speaker it doesn’t actually matter where you go because you know that hakol ihiye beseder.
Constantly screening questions about my dating life to everyone and their grandmother (literally)
This country is wedding-crazed, so it’s not surprising that any old lady who sits next to you on a bus and notices the lack of wedding ring will try and set you up with her grandson. Attending family events has turned into a new game I like to call “strategically avoid questions about my dating life.” So far I have lost every round, but after a few months I’ve kind of gotten used to it. I can now answer every question with the same cut-and-paste answer I give everyone who tries to pry in to my personal life (which are ironically similar to the cut-and-paste Qs & As of JSwipe).
Keeping up with tradition… or making new ones
With all the shiny new experiences being thrown in our faces every day, sometimes it’s nice to pause for those traditions from home that are missed in a Jewish country. Halloween and Thanksgiving were times for all the teaching fellows in my city to come together, enjoy good food and each others company, and share similar and different family traditions surrounding the holidays. Even though it may not look like it outside, sometimes you just need to dance to Thriller to remind yourself that it’s really fall.
Taking a moment to yourself is really important and really rare
I’ve grown accustomed to the look of pity I receive when I tell someone I’ve just met that not only do I live in an apartment with 5 other roommates, I even share a bedroom. There’s virtually no moment of any day when at least one other person isn’t home, so once in a while I like to retreat back in to my shell when everyone has gone out for the night and enjoy a solitary glass of wine while listening to the beautiful sound of silence. That being said…
Spending moments together is always better
I may not get peace and quiet very often, but that’s okay because hanging out with my roomies after those days full of screaming kids, ladies trying to set me up with members of their family, bad dates, or endless bus rides around the country, it’s nice to come home to my messy apartment with my crazy roomies, where Israeli music is almost always playing and bourekas are abundant.
Want to follow along on my adventures? Add me! I promise to keep dog face filters to a minimum.