Tomorrow I have my first real day as an independent adult in Israel, have to take public transportation to Jerusalem for meetings and to finally meet some people I'll be working with. I'm trying to remind myself that 1) I've taken the bus in Israel (several times) before, 2) It's the same as going from Suffern to the city, 3) I'm 28 years old and speak the language and will be fine, but it's still nerve-wracking. I'm not nervous about the meeting, just getting there. But it will be important because I'm going to want to learn how to easily visit my grandfather, so this is a great opportunity.
Other than that I've been spending time with all of my family. We celebrated my uncle's birthday to a delicious meal at their house and I've seen cousins, aunts, uncles, friends several times already. Then today I was riding around the kibbutz in my grandfather's "kalnoeet" (picture cross between golf cart and vespa, but for older people) and we bumped into my cousin and her two sweet girls on their way for an end-of-summer festival on the kibbutz, so I went with them and played with the children as they climbed on stilts, had a game of life-size checkers (which they beat me in), and listened to music, of course over a huge table of homemade food platters. I also went to visit some family friends for lunch, and afterwards over delicious espresso (always eating or drinking here!), started studying some English/Hebrew vocabulary that one of their sons needs for his upcoming exams. As his brother tested him in more obscure Hebrew vocabulary, I sat there scanning the practice book to see how much I know. I realized I know so many more words than I remember when I'm trying to speak, but they're definitely locked in my brain somewhere. So far I've been doing a pretty good job basically existing in Hebrew and I'm looking forward to increasing my knowledge further.
It feels like a typical visit but my parents are missing and I still haven't quite processed that I'm not leaving any time soon... it's exciting but scary.
Some big differences between Israel and America (most of which I already knew, but have come into much sharper focus lately):
1. No planning ahead past a few days
2. Everything is family-oriented
3. The sun is HOT! (But I love it)
4. There's no end to how many mangoes or avocado a person can eat when they taste as good as these do, not to mention the plums, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pomegranates
5. Speaking of pomegranates, they're in season right in line with the Jewish New Year, when you traditionally eat pomegranate seeds to celebrate many more years of good health and joy (it's so exciting to be literally witnessing the Jewish calender "live")
6. There are many, many more words than I realized that are directly from English, EX: ambivalent is "ambivilanti" or politics is "politica" and it's really funny because it always takes me a second longer to register them than straight Hebrew.
We'll see what tomorrow will bring! I look forward to learning more about the work I will be doing.