In Hebrew, there is no “to be” verb in the present tense. I studying Hebrew. Kind of awkward, right? My brain always wants to stick another word in there, forcing the sentence to comply with my English-centered demands. I’ve realized I am expecting more than just the language of Israel to fit my idea of what is ‘right’. I want the washing machines to wash my clothes like they do in the US, I want my salad dressing to taste like it does in the US, I want to just walk in and out of a shop on the street without being hassled by the overbearing shop owner, I want people to wait politely in line at the bus stop instead of always shoving their way to the front. But there is something really amazing about realizing the rest of the world doesn’t do everything exactly like you do. And when you can get over trying to find the American equivalent for everything, you allow yourself to truly become a part of your host culture.
Last weekend, two friends and I traveled to Sefad, a small, heavily religious city a couple hours by bus from Haifa. Winter probably isn’t the best time to travel to Sefad — it was cold and rainy most of the time, and it even snowed! The owner of the hostel we stayed in was really excited about the snow, so it was hard to be annoyed at it for spoiling our plans. Israel really treasures its water, so I have really tried to have a good attitude about the copious amount of rain we have gotten the past couple of weeks. Despite the weather, we managed to have a nice, cozy time, except for two hours on Saturday when our power was out due to the rain. Sefad is beautiful, and I was amazed by the height and beauty of the mountains surrounding the city.
When I arrived back in Haifa late Sunday afternoon, just as the sun was setting, I realized how much I have come to love this city. I feel like I have really become a part of Haifa’s diverse, beautiful community. I don’t miss UR like I thought I would. There is so much to discover and accomplish here, both in my language learning ambitions and in growing as a person. The surreal feeling I have had since arriving here has started to fade, and in its place has grown a sense of belonging and permanence. For a country whose right to exist is constantly questioned by the international community, and one that seems to stand perpetually on the verge of international conflict, life in Haifa is surprisingly rhythmic and normal. Falling into that rhythm has been one of the greatest things I have ever experienced.
I hope you will consider entering the 2011-12 Spiders Abroad Photo Contest. For contest and submission details, visit http://international.richmond.edu/abroad/photo-contest/index.html