Yesterday was filled with ups and downs (mostly ups so that is good). Also, even though we have only had one full day in Israel, it feels like we’ve been here for weeks. On Thursday morning before Ulpan, my friend Jordan and I (the one who I was supposed to switch rooms with) walked to campus (a ten to fifteen minute walk depending how long it takes to get through security) to do some errands. We talked to the head of the housing department and she was completely ok with us switching rooms. We did some more errands and got lost around the Hebrew U campus. We are both from smaller schools (she goes to Brandeis) and are not used to such a large campus with 30,000 people. It is especially hard to know where you’re going without any tours or instructions! After, we headed to Aroma, which is halfway between the student village and campus, to meet our friends Heather and Leah (pronounced Leeyah!) for brunch. The weather has been amazing lately--sunny with no clouds and in the upper 60s F--so we sat outside in the sun and watched cats jumping up on the tables to eat leftover food scraps.
Then we walked back to Rothberg (aka campus) and found a cheaper store to buy some necessities like toiletries that we couldn’t get on the first day shopping trip. Ulpan went by super quickly because it was only three hours split in the middle by a half-hour break. Next week it will be longer but that's a differnet story. I’m in one of the advanced aleph classes and although pretty much all of yesterday was a review, I think that it will be a good place for me right now. During the break, I found my friend Alyssa and we went outside to talk and look out at Jerusalem. Because the campus is on a hill, we have an amazing view (although I’m not sure of what exactly—it may be Arab neighborhoods as we are surrounded by a lot of them). Sometime during the break, we heard what sounded like fireworks but looked like light explosions down below where we watching. The girls I was with all agreed that at home we would just think that they were fireworks, but here, in Israel, they probably weren't.
After Ulpan, Jordan and I walked back to the student village to finalize our move with a different office but it closes at 15:00 every day! (It was 16:00 when we went.) We decided to move and then just go in the morning (which wouldn’t have worked anyway because they are closed on Fridays too). I was all packed up and Jordan had just finished bringing the last of her stuff over when she told me that she didn’t actually want to move and there was some miscommunication before. I helped her bring her stuff back and then we both emailed Linda, the head of housing, to inform her that we wouldn’t be switching. I told Linda that I still needed to move, but she hasn’t emailed me back. When we tried to go to campus this morning, we got to the security point and it was closed. Apparently campus is closed all of Friday which is extremely inconvenient. This also means that I have to stay in my current room for Shabbat which I am not happy about because it means I have to deal with my roommates either freaking out because I’m using electricity (which might be a good thing in my case to move) or me trying to tip-toe around them which I really shouldn’t have to do.
The housing situation aside, last night was the most fun I’ve had so far in Jerusalem. (Yes, I know it’s only been two days.) Six of my friends and I went out to Ben Yehuda street which meant conquering the bus system. Luckily, Lily was here over the summer and took the buses to work every day so she had some idea what we were doing and Google maps took care of the rest. We went out to dinner where I was able to eat meat in a restaurant for the first time in a year, which was an experience I don’t want to take for granted. After, we went to a small bar where everything was five shekels but we didn’t stay there for long because it was very crowded even though it was early. We then went to a different bar where we could all sit down and talk. We were the only Americans in the entire place and even though six out of the seven of us have brown, wavy hair and could try to pass as Israeli, our foreignness did not go unnoticed. It is also very bizarre to see boys wearing kippot and tzit-tzit drinking, smoking, and dancing, but that’s Jerusalem. We left around 23:30 because we were still all pretty tired and jet-lagged. When we walked outside, we were shocked at the amount of people and the general party vibe of Ben Yehuda street. Whoever said Tel Aviv is the only/best place for nightlife in Israel was very wrong! It also helped that it was a Thursday night because it is basically like a Friday night in the states. When we were walking to the bus stop to go home I ran into four of my camp friends from OSRUI, which makes it seem like a very small world. We got on the bus back around 00:15 and were in our dorms around 00:45.
It is now 10:30 on Friday morning and at 09:00 five of us took a failed “run” (aka we walked in athletic clothing) to campus only to discover it was completely closed. Since then, I’ve talked to some of my friends at Tufts. It turns out this is prime time because my friends are crazy and up at 02:00-03:00 on Friday morning. In a half hour, my friends and I are meeting up again to go to the shuk to shop for food before Shabbat. It is going to be super crowded but I think that will just add to the experience. This also means we have to navigate the bus system again and we’re going to try to get rav kavs (Israeli bus passes). Rothberg isn’t giving us a tour of Jerusalem and the bus/light rail system until next Wednesday, which is slightly inconvenient because we have to figure out everything now by ourselves.
After we return from the city we’re going to get ready for Shabbat. There is a dinner tonight that everyone is going to and I’m going to try to find people that will go to services with me beforehand. Also, this afternoon people who went on the Bedouin trip are coming back so I’m excited to see my friends who went and hear all about it.
Shabbat Shalom from Jlem!