I'm here in Israel!!!
Let me catch you up a bit. On Saturday I ran the Hartford Half Marathon with Mom and Lauren. Although there were a couple times when I felt like I wanted to die, I have to admit that crossing the finish line was an absolutely exhilarating feeling. Mom and I finished under our goal time, too! Now the real training starts...marathon! Saturday night a bunch of people came over, WH, Taglit, PC & WFM... it was a great time and thank you to everyone who came!
On Sunday Abe drove me to JFK airport. We left around 2 and stopped at WFM for a brief farewell, which was nice. After an emotional and exciting 4.5 hour drive, we said our farewells and were on our separate ways. Abe to a friend's house in Long Island and me to Israir airlines. I'm really so lucky to have him in my life. Abe you should be HERE!!
The flight went by fairly fast, as I was asleep before take-off. I sat next to a wonderfully warm woman, with whom I unfortunately could not communicate. It frustrated me that I couldn't speak Hebrew with her and made me even more anxious for Ulpan to start. There were a bunch of Orthodox Jews on the flight and I woke up as they were doing morning davening. I was enthralled by the different styles and preferences of praying and it kept me entertained for a few hours. When we landed it was such a nice feeling, even on the plane I felt the familiar embrace of Israel.
I met some other girls from my program, Michelle, Diana and Seri, while waiting for the taxi to Arad. Fitting all of our bags in the tiny taxi was a challenge, for sure. Our driver, Lior, had to tie 4 bags to the roof and we were all positive that we would arrive in Arad missing half our belongings. During the car ride I decided I want to go by my hebrew name here, which is אלה (Ella). It's such a beautiful name and I've never used it! What a perfect tiem to start. Anyhow, as soon as we arrived at the Arad Absorption Center (the merkaz klitah as we call it in hebrew) our group was headed out to one of the 3 (yes, there are only 3) bars in the city. We threw our bags in our rooms and headed out to Muza for some Goldstars.
The brief glance I had at my "apartment" certainly grounded me. The accommodations are far from luxurious, but I have everything I need. A bed, fridge, sink, stove-top, bathroom, shower and super cool roommate. Her name is Jane, by the way. She is 25 and was born in Belarus, lived there until she was 9. We are a lot alike in many ways and I think we will make great roommates. Overall, I really like our group. Most everyone has a unique background and many reasons for coming to Arad. I think I will learn a lot from the people here.
Today we had our first day of orientation. I registered this morning and finished unpacking. Soon afterwards, I fried my hair straightener because apparently it was 250W and my converter is only for 500-1600W appliances. This really upset me because I'm trying not to spend much and now will have to deal without one. ugh. I suppose worse things could happen. The majority of the day was spent meeting the staff. The exec director, Alon, is an amazingly cool guy - he really inspires you to make the absolute most of your time here. I signed up for health insurance and got a cell phone and we have FREE internet in our room because we are close to the computer lab!! Definitely a plus. This evening we went for a walking tour of Arad. The city is small and manageable, I'm beginning to feel like it's a good starting place for me. I think I will get a feel for a real Israeli city here, for sure.
If you would like to call me (incoming calls are free for me) just e-mail me: [email protected] and I will send you my number.
More to come from Arad...