Shabbat Shalom, wonderful people!
Hopefully you’ve been on some social media platform in the past month and thus have been assured that I am, indeed, alive and thriving! I know I’ve been away from the blog for a (long) while. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it boils down to a few realities I’ve been grappling with. This evening I’ve finally forced myself to sit down to write. And, in doing that, it seems like the best subject of this blog post is perhaps the reasons why I’ve been hesitating so long to write in the first place. (Apologies in advance for any rambling. You can click that X button if needed without judgment from yours truly).
Reality numero uno: ten months into studying abroad doesn’t really feel like “studying abroad” anymore.
My choice to go abroad for a full year had always been rooted in my desire to actually live somewhere versus quickly jump in, and then be yanked out after a month, or a quarter, or what have you. In making this choice, I knew that eventually, Israel would no longer feel like a constant adventure. And, while I told myself this last July, I suppose I didn’t realize what the stage of actually living would look like. Alas, here I am.
Sitting here, ten months in, Israel doesn’t feel like an experience pulled away from the rest of my life, or a specific year carved out in time, but rather a continuation of the life I’ve always lived. Daily tasks that used to be experiences all in themselves— shopping at the supermarket, going through security at the university, packing onto trains filled with armed soldiers— feel normal. Cultural differences and interactions that originally would have turned into anecdotes all on their own no longer seem so shocking or hilarious. I hesitate to say that life here has become rudimentary— because nothing about this land is rudimentary— but I have come to a place of immense familiarity, if you will.
I recognize that this is the experience I was (and am) looking for. I feel privileged to have reached a point where I feel local, I feel Israeli, I feel like I belong. There is undeniable joy and comfort in this. But there is also a lack of excitement that evolves. This is something I’ve really been struggling with this past month and much of the reason you all haven’t been receiving weekly blog posts with new and interesting stories. It would be an exaggeration to say that I am bored— but I definitely find myself frequently uninspired (something that never happened in my first months here). Learning how to acclimate to feeling “normal”, seek out new experiences, continue to roll the dice and change things up has been a challenge.
Reality numero dos: Coming home is going to be weird.
In less than two months (!!!) I’ll bid adieu to Israel. Trust me, it’s got me feelin’ all sorts of ways. My emotions surrounding leaving this land could be pages on their own— but if one sentiment rises above the rest it is the absurd anxiety I feel towards returning to a different America and home than I left. Thus, I use the word “weird” in its truest meaning.
Mostly, I’m curious and concerned and hopeful and freaked out about how I will fit back into the life I left last July. I’ve acquired many of the characteristics of Israeli culture. I am more blunt, more honest, more direct, more loving, more happy to enjoy life in the moment. With these adapted characteristics (or perhaps, enhanced parts of my internal character), life has become increasingly comfortable here with regards to my interactions with the culture and other Israelis. But what does that mean upon my return? How do I fit in? I’m still me, of course, but will I morph backward as I settle into California life and Davis? Will I shed the characteristics I’ve acquired, will I re-obtain the (dumb) American characteristics I’ve lost? The questions go on and on.
If you know me, you know that overthinking things is something I am particularly good at (wait, really?). It may not be at all surprising that this questioning about what’s to come has made reflecting back on what’s happened (or staying present in what’s happening) a big challenge. Thus, I present you with reason number two for not being as dedicated to writing blog posts as I’d like to be.
Okay, but what have you been doing during these past two months of silence beside overanalyzing life?
While I’ve spent the past two months grappling these two realities— caught between figuring out how to make the “normal” exciting again and dealing with the weird emotions revolving my return to American life— lots of shizzzz has been going down. For one, the whole family (Grandma included!) make the trek to the Holy Land in April for three weeks of food, wine, hiking, holidays, history and time together. Such a blast. Classes are in full swing here at the university— I’m particularly enjoying my course on conflicts over water and my course on lost and isolated Jewish communities. My professors this semester are especially gifted. I also made my final international trip a few weeks ago to Rome with Mimi. We ate alllll the yummy food, walked 15 miles a day, checked every touristy thing off the list, met up with the BELOVED Abigail Keenan and enjoyed spring in Italy (does it get better?)…Now we’re back in Israel for the final haul, the weather is heating up (casually 104 today), the pool is pumping, daily dips are essential for maintaining a viable internal temperature and everyone is getting tanner by the day. Life is good.
Considering my recent general lack of inspiration for blog post topics, I’d like to hear from you all what you’re curious about. It can be anything to do with my experience here (Israel, politics, academics, classes, culture, food, friends, emotions, etc.) With this final stretch of time, I’d like to write posts more often and have these posts be centered on specific topics rather than describing my past week chronologically, etc. So, I invite you to comment on this post, send me a message, tie a note to a pigeon, do whatcha gotta do, just tell me what you’d like to hear about!
Missing each and everyone one of you. And love, love, loving you more than you know.
P.S. My little, beloved, prehistoric iPhone 5 has gone to sleep for the last time (AKA dead for the indefinite future). This means your best bet for reaching me is iMessage (to my computer), email, or FB message. I will be a phoneless millennial (unheard of) until I return to the USA, at which time I will be back to using my American number. Currently accepting well wishes for the challenge that this entails. #RIPphone
I’d love a post on student life…descriptions and photos of your classrooms, lecture halls, student cafes, gym/pool area, dorms etc. Almost everything was shutdown for Passover during our trip.
Some street shots of locals – especially the bus stop scenes would also be interesting .