As of November 24th, Adam and I have been in Israel for two months. What is our major accomplish at the two month mark? I would have to say routine.
When we first arrived here, we dedicated our time to getting things set-up. I will spare you all the details because they have already been stated in previous posts. The set-up time was difficult for us both. For me, I was constantly overwhelmed with the language and how things work (or don’t work). Adam, on the other hand, struggled with the balance between set-up and work. As we all know so well, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything, and he felt torn between taking care of the apartment and working on his math. Now that the apartment is all set-up (except for one or two minor things), he is able to focus on his math, and he is loving it!
With routine, comes balance. Adam spends 7-8 hours a day working on math give or take a few hours depending on how frustrated he gets (if he is frustrated he tends to work longer, just so you know). He has been running more consistently, and while we are still having trouble getting to bed before midnight most nights, he is getting around 7-8 hours of sleep. He consistently talks with his father and his sister (Diane) and her family, learns with Rabbi Adler back in West Hartford once a week, and even has time to hang out with me in the evenings. We have expanded our TV watching capabilities here, the details of which I will write about in another post.
My days have less of a routine, but overall have been very good. I have to admit that it is nice to have the type of flexibility that I have right now. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my job very much and look forward to having my life scheduled in 45 minute snippets when we return. Until then, I am enjoying the flexibility. It allows me to go shopping when I feel like it, and I am able to talk to my parents practically every morning before they go to work. I get to talk to my grandmother on the phone two to three times a week, and I video chat with my brothers and their families about every other week. Staying in touch with family and friends is helping me greatly here. I would feel so alone if it wasn’t for them (and Adam of course).
The rest of my time, when I am not shopping or talking with people, has become pretty full. Babysitting has been going great. It has morphed a bit from what was originally planned, but I think it is going to work out very well. Originally, I was supposed to pick up a three-year-old boy, Matan, from his gan and take him home to play with him and his 4-month old brother, Yishai, until their parents got home from work. That basic set-up still applies, but with a new addition. Friends of the family also have a son at the same gan and they live on the way home. Since the family has twin 4-month-olds, it is challenging for them to pick up their 3-year-old. So now I am picking up two 3-year-old boys, dropping the friend off at his house before taking Matan home to play and relieve the babysitter who is taking care of Yishai. Not a huge change right? Well, the little glitch is that the other three-year-old boy, Ravid, speaks very little English. Just so you know, they asked me if it is okay, and I said it was fine. I figure that the only way I’m going to learn Hebrew is out of necessity. Working with this little boy is going to force me to learn Hebrew.
At this point, I have been going with Esther (who hired me) to pick up the boys once a week as practice. This week we will go together one more time, and then next week I am going to give it a go on my own. Already I can feel that I have a good relationship with the boys. Ravid came running up to me last week and ask me “What is your name?” in English, which goes to show you that we should really be teaching world languages to kids when they are young. He can also count to ten in English. For the record, I can count to 12 in Hebrew starting with zero. My understanding of Hebrew is improving, however, even if I am still hesitant about speaking. I can understand words here and there, which are enough to know what he is saying. Matan is also picking up Hebrew rapidly, and when the two boys talk to each other, I generally have a sense of what is going on even if I don’t understand all of the words. Because of Ravid, I can also boast that I understood my first full sentence of Hebrew. While walking along a park path on our way home, Matan stopped to inspect something on the ground. Ravid came right up to him, took one look and said proudly, “זא קקי של כלב”. I couldn’t help but laugh that the first sentence in Hebrew that I could understand fully was, “This is dog poo.” Oh well, you have to start somewhere! Adam and I signed up for Ulpan (Hebrew classes) which begin in January. Hopefully that will help me understand slightly more useful sentences. 🙂
My experiences with this new babysitting set-up has shown me that my speaking confidence is going to improve from all of this. Because I have to communicate with Ravid, and it is often more effective in Hebrew, it forces me to say the few words I need to get my meaning across. For example, before crossing the street, I needed him to give me his hand, forcing me to say the simple word יד which just means “hand.” He understood me which was great, except his response was לא which means “No.” Oh well, three-year-olds are the same in any language. That was the first time he had met me though; we did much better last week. I have also learned how to say quickly (מהר) because sometimes we have to walk a little faster when we are crossing the street. This is going to be good experience for me. The added bonus is that these three boys (Matan, Ravid, and Yishai) are absolutely adorable. I get to see them every week, I get to play and color, and I get to make a little money. It is going to be great!
So all of that accounts for one day out of my week right now. The rest of my time has been dedicated to working on teaching stuff and to working on the website for Shomera, the environmental organization I mentioned in my post on keeping busy. I have been trying out different What you see is what you get web design programs to figure out which one would be best for us to use. I found one I like, but I still have one more to test out. I spent a lot of time using the one I like to design layouts. I even made a graphic. It has been a lot of fun escaping my left-brained self a bit to be a little more creative. I hope in the next two weeks to be able to send you all to the website so you can see what I have been up to.
“Teaching stuff? Why are you working on teaching stuff?” you might ask. I didn’t post about this earlier because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, but a few weeks ago, I had an interview for the Ramah TRY program. TRY is a program for high school students who do a semester abroad in Israel. The students come for the Spring semester and get to see the country while teachers like me help them keep up with their classes from back home. It is really an amazing opportunity for students from all over the United States. Whether or not I will teach there will probably depend on need, but this interview was a good motivator to get me to update my teaching portfolio. It was also the first interview that I have had in about six years. It was great to see that I could still do it, and could do it better than ever before since I have real opinions about teaching and I have made curriculum that I can be proud of. I am not exactly a newbie anymore. Anyway, I’m hoping to hear in the next few weeks whether or not they would like me to teach. I have my meeting for my work visa next week too, so that is good. I will then be set to go for this opportunity or substitute teaching at the American International School.
I have also kept busy making AP Environmental Science activities for a colleague in Southington who wonderfully accepted the class that I abandoned to come to Israel. I am glad to help; it is nice to still be in touch with Southington and working on the activities is helping me become more familiar with the class. I may get to teach it for TRY, and I hope to be able to teach it at some point in the future when we return to the states.
Interestingly, because I have been so busy with things, I am starting to feel like I have to schedule some more downtime for myself. I haven’t crocheted as much as I thought I would and there are some parks I would like to explore in the next few weeks. Things have really started to bloom here now that it has begun to rain every so often. I did find a craft store close by and bought my first yarn in Israel. It was very exciting to come up with a new project since I am almost done with my first shawl for cancer patients.
I’m sure there is much more to say, but since I’m at about 1800 words, it is probably a good time to stop. The moral of the two month mark story is that Adam and I are settling in well and that we are going to be happy here during our stay. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to go home to America at the end of this Fulbright adventure, but at least I don’t feel like I’m going to count down the days until we go home. While we are here we are going to be happy, we are going to have amazing adventures, and we are going to create unique memories.
Sorry to ramble, but you know that rambling is always a good sign 🙂
Until next time…