Ulpan today was terrific. I feel really comfortable speaking Hebrew there because everyone in my class is at my level. It is all somewhat exhausting becuase even during our breaks we speak Hebrew together as it is the most convenient way to communicate with people from such diverse backgrounds. Today we did all sorts of things in class - reviewed how to conjugate particular verb groups into past, future, and turn them into gerunds, practice masculine and feminine nouns, read two poems and a story, etc. We're working out of two books. One I used last year so there will be some review for me, but I think it is a review that I could use... and the other is completely new.
I didn't find my German friend again today but I did make friends with Paola (from Italy) and Paul (from Holland), as well as Sam (from England, has been living in Israel for five years). Paul sat next to me and we worked together when we were supposed to work in partners - he seems quite nice and hopefully I'll get to talk to him at greater length tomorrow. He is here for the whol year, as is Paola, with whom I spent both of my breaks today. I was super excited about how well we were able to communicate in Hebrew, and I invited her to my birthday party (a potluck dinner at our apartment on Aug 14 - be there or be square!). She seemed excited about that.
I attended a really boring orientation where I realized that it will be a very different experience living off campus than most of my classmates will have on campus, where they will primarily participate in a social life based around campus activities. It will be harder for me to get to these activities and Daniel won't be allowed to participate in all of them, so I don't know if I'll be involved with extra-curriculars or how involved I will be - especially if I'm busy with Yung YiDDiSH, or with the Interfaith Encounter Association. That's OK though - I think my experience, different though it may be, will certainly be just as rich and rewarding, and I'm glad to get tastes of all sorts of different worlds in Jerusalem.
I've decided to try to read only newspapers or books to study for the GRE II in English, and not read English language novels otherwise (this will be a big challenge for me!) Instead, I'm hoping to force myself to read in Hebrew or Yiddish as much as possible this year. To this end, I've been reading articles from the Yiddish Forward, very slowly with the aid of a dictionary, and today I checked a young adult novel in Hebrew out of my school's library and I'll try to struggle through it. Wish me luck.