I know, I know, I resolved in 2017 to write more and then left my blog neglected for nearly two months. For good reason though, I have been far busier than I thought I would be. Between school, planning for my upcoming 3-week trip to the Balkans, and the different volunteer jobs I’m doing, finding time to write has been challenging. However, in the spare minutes I have each day that I like to call ‘free-time,’ I’ve found myself plagued by the question that reverberates in my head constantly: “what are you doing after this year?” Every time someone brings up the enigmatic post-Masa era, I cringe as I remember my last semester at university, where everyone and their grandmother asked me the same dreaded “what comes next” question.
However, with only a few more months to go (wow, how did that happen?!) on this program, I’ve gotten to that point where I really do need to question what I’m going to do come July. While I do plan on going back to Canada for at least the bulk of the summer, I’m still unsure about what happens after. A few people on my program are considering making Aliyah – the formal term for simply moving to Israel – but for the past few months I’ve found myself making scattered pros and cons lists in my head with little success, so the time has come to put those thoughts down on paper, err, the internet.
Trudeau vs. Bibi
Both Canada and Israel have Liberal governments, and though neither is perfect, it’s almost not fair to pit Canada’s suave, well-spoken feminist Disney prince leader against Israel’s arrogant old dude who has held on to power for too long. With my roomies hailing from the US and UK, I hate to admit that I’ve grown a little bit of a superiority complex when it comes to our respective countries’ politics. While going home for them this summer includes returning to a country led by an evil racist orangutan or the disaster that was Brexit, I don’t really have those problems. While Trudeau’s hair is flawless, I’m not arguing that Justin and his Liberals are too, but given the choice between him and Bibi, Canada takes the point on this one.
Canada: 1 Israel: 0
6 months of winter vs. a few weeks of ‘winterish’
I’ve failed as a Canadian with respect towards my attitude towards winter: though I love hockey and maple syrup hardened over snow, I don’t have “ice in my veins.” I hate the winter. Hate. It. I’ve never skied or snowboarded, in fact, I do winter like a grizzly bear does winter: I hibernate in my cave (read: mom’s basement) and watch Netflix until it goes away. Going outside in Montreal in January means immediately tearing up because of the cold arctic weather, and then those tear drops mixed with running mascara turn to LITERAL icicles on your eyelashes that obstruct your vision while you try and scrape ice and layers of snow off of your car in the morning. Going outside on the same January winterish day in Israel means looking outside and then asking your roommate “do you think it might rain today? Should I bring a warmer sweater?” No brainer: point Israel.
Canada: 1 Israel: 1
Montreal vs. Tel Aviv Nightlife
This is a tough category, as both cities are known for their amazing nightlife, so I’ll need to break it down to what a typical outing in both cities looks like. A night out in Montreal consists mainly of spending hours getting ready and pre-gaming, then walking up and down either St. Catherine’s or St. Laurent looking for a place that doesn’t have too long of a line while dodging snow and ice in high heels, finally managing to get in to a club and trying to enjoy yourself while creepy guys stand at the outskirts of the dance floor and stare. Generally, don’t talk to anyone else besides you squad. If you hail from the West Island (like yours truly), factor in 2-4 weeks of advance planning for making the trek into town and an overpriced cab or Uber ride home. Nightlife in Tel Aviv is going out in whatever you were wearing that day to your usual bar, making friends with the group of cute strangers at the table next to you and then running in to two dozen people you know when one of them convinces you to join them in going to another bar or club. Repeat this process until it’s 4am, you’ve run in to everyone you’ve ever known, and you’ve been to all the major Tel Aviv haunts in a matter of hours. Neither scene is perfect, but I have to give the point to Israel here for having a wider variety of nightlife options and a more comfortable party vibe.
Canada: 1 Israel: 2
Safety in Israel vs. Canada
It’s been said a million and one times before by people more eloquent than myself, but the Israel you see depicted in the media is completely different than the reality of everyday life here. Most people would be surprised to know that our apartment door is almost never locked. On several occasions I have taken late busses home or walked the streets of Tel Aviv alone late at night and as a woman I have never felt at risk. You even get used to the idea that 18-year-olds are given huge weapons to carry around everywhere they go because unlike other countries (looking at you, ‘Muricah), these weapons are regulated and used responsibly. That being said, Canada does not have the conflict problems that Israel does, so being at the wrong place at the wrong time isn’t as much of a concern. In fact, Canada ranks among one of the safest countries in the world, so I’m going to have to give this point to my homeland.
Canada: 2 Israel: 2
Poutine vs. Hummus
OH GOD PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE between soft heavenly bourrekas or a warm delicious Montreal bagel, an ice cold limonana from Aroma or a refreshing ice cap from Tim’s, a plate of greasy poutine or fresh hot pita dipped into a bowl of creamy hummus, maple syrup or tehina on everything, Canadian beer or Goldst— nevermind, Canadian beer definitely comes out on top. Seriously though, this might be the toughest category. The Mediterranean spices and flavours that flood the Israeli markets are hard to beat, however, and this is a big however, there are some staple foods that you just can’t get here that are missing from my usual diet. Canada seems to import a lot more produce and food items that Israel doesn’t have: berries, canned beans, good chocolate, and edible avocados to name a few. My entire meal repertoire has been changed since living here now that I don’t have access to the same foods as I did at home. That being said, choosing between poutine and hummus is ludicrous and I refuse to do it, so this category is a tie.
Canada: 3 Israel: 3
Not knowing French well enough vs. not knowing Hebrew well enough
English is my native language, and that shows when I try to speak French in Montreal. I’m often met with similar questions from puzzled Quebecois people: “are you from Toronto?” “Where were you in French class?” (For the record, I was spreading glue all over my hands just so that I could spend the next 45 minutes peeling it off. Sue me.) Being an Anglophone in a predominantly French society is not easy. The fact that the language police exist in a reality outside of Orwell’s 1984 is ridiculous, and I’ve made peace with the fact that I can speak French but I will never ever have a French-Canadian enough accent. Even though living in Montreal or in Israel means immersing myself in a society that doesn’t use my native tongue, the major difference is that in Israel having English as your native language is a big asset, whereas in Montreal it is almost a crutch. Speaking English, French, and Hebrew is a huge deal on a CV here, but in Montreal unless my CV is in French chances are I might not even get an interview. Point Israel.
Canada: 3 Israel: 4
Alright, so there are many more categories I can evaluate the two countries on. Bureaucratic procedures and general organization in running a country for example, point Canada. Tanned Israeli guys or pasty French-Canadian boys, point Israel. Cats running around every street of Israel or my fur babies waiting for me at home, tie. The point is, I have a lot of thinking to do in the coming months, but the idea of spending my future Januaries by the beach is quite a tempting one.