Last week, specifically, last Tuesday, our international school classes began. Now, I normally would follow that sentence with another sentence expressing my distaste for the beginning of long lectures and the rekindling of homework assignments; however, I have a fresh perspective on the matter.
First of all, the weather here in Haifa is completely perfect. Around 83F during the day and somewhere around 70F in the evening. The sun still radiates heat when it touches my skin and the breezes fail to nip and pierce. This whole occurrence of perfect weather in late October is a complete phenomenon to me, as I have only ever lived in the arctic land of Minnesota.
All that to say, the weather has a mysterious capability of adding excitement or lack thereof to the start of a semester. The mood of the air can easily dictate my temper. And this temperature is radiating positive waves all throughout my body.
I should also briefly mention that international students get a three day weekend: All day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I’ll be honest and say that having a 3 day weekend really makes the 4 days of classes bearable.
But wait, there’s more.
I’m really excited to learn.
I’m anticipating that this semester will be both challenging and refreshing.
Allow me to explain.
Last week I had my Hebrew placement exam and I was feeling really nervous about my oral interview. My confidence in speaking and listening is quite low. Reading is so much easier because there’s time for me to sit and analyze the structure of words and the patterns they follow. The difference between reading in your head and listening to a native speaker is kind of like the difference between being dropped in the middle of a pool and being dropped in the middle of an ocean.
The results of my placement test were e-mailed to me later that night and I had to do a double take when I read the class level I was placed in… 6! I’m in level 6 out of 7 levels of Hebrew. Unsure as to whether or not this was a complete mix up or joke, I decided to roll with it. I’ve had two days of class so far, and it really is a challenge. Our professor speaks only in Hebrew and I’ve already been forced to speak and to read in front of people. The class is around two hours long and there is no time for me to zone out or day dream. All of my concentration is directed right at her, trying to internally translate all of the words she is rattling off. All the words I don’t recognize, I try to write down so I can look them up later. I had two full pages of words after our last class. The class is exhilarating because of the fast pace, but I’m also aware that I have no time to fall behind. And I also need to acknowledge that I only have a couple of months to find a foothold in this vast language. It really isn’t a lot of time.
I’m anticipating this semester to be refreshing because of the classes I am going to take. Or perhaps, because of the classes I’m not going to take. My major is nutrition but there are absolutely no classes I can take here that correspond to it. Instead, I’m going to take a couple literature classes, maybe a psychology class, and a leadership class. I already attending “Contemporary Israeli Literature” and after three hours in class, I walked out feeling… INSPIRED! All we did was discuss poems and it was just too good to be true. It feels like forever since I’ve taken a course that allows me to roll ideas around in my head as opposed to pounding facts into my brain. Suddenly, I’m finding that I want to take classes for the fun of it, because I have the privilege to learn anything I want to for no particular goal orientated reason. For some reason, I think this might actually prove to be just what I need to get back into the niche of actively learning.
After I left my literature class last Thursday, I walked over to the bookstore where I bought more art supplies. I then proceeded to spend the next three hours painting as a way to convey everything I was feeling in that moment.
I can’t believe I’ve live here for almost two months now. The time is really flying by and I’m feeling less home sick and more content living in this city. I deactivated my facebook a few weeks ago because I knew it would make being away that much harder. I think the whole social media concept allows a person to dance in multiple worlds at one time. And I just need to be in this world right now. We had a three week vacation and I knew I would be upset with myself if I spent excessive amounts of time looking through photos of friends in Minnesota, wondering what it would be like to be home.
As a result of my separation from this networking tool, I was able to invest time into meeting new people, spending time with friends I’ve made here, and spending time alone in thought.
The break lasted around 3 weeks and I can honestly say I was never bored. I’ve spent a lot of time discovering the city of Haifa: going to the German colony, the beach, my new favorite bakery, Merkatz Carmel, the Drews village, and the shook. I’ve been making friends with Americans and Israelis, some of whom I feel like I’ve known forever. We’ve explored and adventured through Haifa, finding places that we love to go to during the day and the night.
I can now say that I have walked 9 miles for frozen yogurt and a Reuben sandwich… more than once.
I don’t regret my decision to arrive in Haifa a month and half before the semester started. Having all of the extra time to explore and make a few solid friends has provided me with a perfect springboard to propel me into the beginning of my classes. The break was priceless, but at the same time, I’m glad its over. I’ve been itching for challenges and a schedule along with a sense of rhythm to my week.
Who knows what the semester will bring…