Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beginnings

This morning I took the bus from the stop around the corner from our apartment (which of course I nevertheless had trouble finding and had to ask for directions) to Hebrew University, and made my way to the international building. Groups of young people swarmed around the building, speaking in French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Italian, and English - and probably some other languages as well. After some mulling about, we were led to the building where our summer language classes will be held, and assigned to our classrooms.
There ar 15 students (roughly - I may have missed someone) in my class. Two are from Italy, one from Canada, one from England, five from France, two are Arabic speakers from Jerusalem, two are from Russia, and two (including myself) are from the US. This means that we can't cheat at all and translate words into English because not everyone speaks English.
We have two teachers - one in the morning and one in the early afternoon (class went until 3:30 today but will ordinarily go until only 1:30). Both of them speak pretty fast and class was pretty intimidating - but I do feel that it is basically at the right level for me, which is good. The bookstore is currently on strike so we couldn't buy the books for the class, but otherwise there seemed to be no kinks at all - and we covered a lot of ground! We reviewed verb groups, masculine and feminine nouns, we read a passage about choosing a name for the state of Israel, and we learned a song.
During one of the breaks, I made friends with a girl from Germany who is studying here for a year. At home she studies Christianity, but she is here to study Judaism. She is in the same level of Hebrew as me, but she never has taken a class in it - she's learned it all from books and tapes. We had a whole conversation in Hebrew - she speaks English but would prefer to practice her Hebrew. Most people seem to be living in dorms, but this girl (whose name I already forget) is living near me and taking the same bus as I am to school. We were about to exchange cell phone numbers but then had to go back to class - I hope I find her again tomorrow so I can invite her over for dinner or something and get to know her better!
Otherwise, I've been meeting other folks left and right. Daniel brought me to HUC yesterday where they had a variety show and silent auction/live auction to benefit the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. It was great to get a chance to meet all of the people Daniel is going to school with - they really welcomed me with open arms and I look forward to getting to know all of them better. Daniel performed The Raven and it was, of course, astonishingly good. Daniel is impressing me left and right with his ability to speak Hebrew, navigate Jerusalem, etc. He is practically a native already.
It's hard to believe this is only my third day here - I feel like it's just been a whirlwind of activity and new experiences. It's been fun but I'm also looking forward to a time when all of this has settled down and feels a little less new and a little more comfortable and sort of ordinary.

2 comments:

Elyse said...

It is fascinating" hearing" all the languages you are hearing, and feeling the pulse of life you are living in Jerusalem. Thanks for providing such a colorful description - especially for those readers who have never had the pleasure of being in Israel. I, too, am impressed by Daniel's abilities....and would love to hear The Raven in Hebrew someday....maybe he can work on it!

I am sure you will make many friends, Jessica, and that you will soon feel harmoniously woven into the thread of life in your new hometown.

Wishing you joy and peace.

Sam & Debbie said...

A Canadian, eh? Good thing you spent a month here, you already know the lingo. Just need to talk about Hockey and Cottages.