Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shalom From Haifa!

Shalom from Haifa everybody!  I intended to set up this blog before leaving, but between flights to Israel, the start of classes, and iffy wifi connection, it took about 2 weeks.  My apologies, but I am connected now and excited to let everyone in on what it is like here at the University of Haifa. (Just a note, my Hebrew name is Chava, and the first letter is the same in Hebrew as that for Haifa, thus the name of the blog.  I hope it doesn't throw anyone too much).

First of all, it's August so it is incredibly hot!  This isn't a big problem when you are relaxing in the water at the beach, but seeing as the university is on top of a mountain, a bus ride away from the water, it's hot here a lot of the time.  Still, my classroom is air-conditioned, and I invested in a big fan after 2 nights of restless, sweaty sleep.

My first night in Haifa was a little rough.  I arrived at the university 20 minutes after everyone in the program had left for their first night out together, so I was waiting around for about 3 hours in a sticky hot new room with no one around.  Still, once those three hours passed and everyone returned, I met my suite-mates, and they are AMAZING!  One, Becky, is staying all semester too, which makes me really happy.  She is from Wesleyan, so naturally we have already covered topics like gender binaries and heteronormativity (these talks always make me feel at home).

Becky has a cousin here in Israel, so we met up with him and some of his friends just a few nights into the program and hung out on the beach.  We even went swimming at night!  I thought the water would be cold, but the Mediterranean is so warm and beautiful, it felt like a bathtub.  Since then, I have gone to the beach every couple of days, which is something I just couldn't do back at home.

Me rocking a skirt, tie-dye shirt, and hiking sneakers; ready
to visit a temple then hike a mountain, naturally.
We have been on a few trips with the program, too.  The first was to Caesarea, and the second was to Safed, followed by a long hike.  Both were informative and fun, but Safed is one of my favorite cities in Israel, so that one definitely was a winner for me.  I love that city because it feels so spiritual all of the time, and both times I have visited were Fridays right before Shabbat, so there is a certain electricity there that you can't find in a lot of other places.

Finally, I will talk about classes so people don't think I am just lying on a beach and walking around awesome cities (although, that is a big part of the time here).  Ulpan, the Hebrew intensive course, is, well, intense.  We have class from 8:30-1pm most days, followed by a lot of homework and studying.  I just took my midterm, and I know I didn't do so well, but it is nice being in a challenging class just to learn.  I am trying not to worry about the grade, but it is definitely in my nature to do so a little.  Still, learning so much Hebrew in so little time is pretty cool, and I think the program and my teacher especially are really impressive.

That is all for now, but I know I will have plenty to write about soon.  My future posts will be a bit more descriptive because I wont be covering two weeks in one post.  Anyway, l'hit'ra'ot from Haifa!  I hope everyone is having a great summer!

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