Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March 14 - 20, 2012 - Intensive Ulpan Week

The fact that I'm stupidly late with updating and by far way too lazy to actually do the day by day thing (on top of my mom saying I write way too much for one day of events) made me go with a fast abridged version of the the past week. If only so I can write my next journal update about the trip with Jerusalem to the Galili (because writing Kineret on the computer makes it think I'm dumb and have no idea how to write Kinect). Anyways, let's speed things up and catch up what transpired.

March 14, 2012
Basically it was a nine hour seminar of who Israelis are and how they function. This basically translated for me as nine hours of how my family function. Been living with it for twenty one years, I'm pretty sure I got the gist of it. We were also informed on the "rules" of being late to group meetings and that if someone is late often, then they have to buy snacks. Me, New York, Belgium M, and Paris went to grab coffee and when we came back (and I should note, we had no idea how the area we were in functioned) we were a good two, maybe three, minutes late. So Ricky says we're late, to which I quickly made a tweet (another tool I use to update my shenanigans for you readers) that I hope the people here like bags of chocolate milk, cause there is no way in hell I'm paying so much for snacks most of them might not even eat. Once we hit the six hour mark, we were permitted to go and get coffee because we had two more speakers to go through. Belgium M was kind enough to make me a strong cup of coffee to last me for at least four hours.

Here's the photo of proof:

I feel I should also note that Ricky pointed out that the building we were at, which is a dance/theater studio, is where our Ulpan will be.

I'm going to be spending the next few days riding the same bus to this building. Meaning I better know the streets pretty damn well. No big deal.

One of our speakers opened up with making us go into groups, and from there we had to write one sentence and pass it on to the next person. This basically translated into a disaster seeing as no one in my group neither
A- Cared.
and B- Knew what the heck was going on.
We already passed the seven hour limit and our attention span was horrifyingly shot (I found out shortly after that most colleges don't have three hour classes, so I was somehow still in tact by the fifth hour). When we were done, we were to read what we wrote. Basically it was a disaster. Most of the groups were able to make a coherent story that was equally hilarious, whilst ours was... well, stupid. I won't go into the details but it was something I had to keep for myself. This opened up to the concept of documenting our stay. Guess who is a month ahead of the game? This one. It shortly translated into a pretty bad PR speech about how we should sell ourselves to the program. Clearly, the guy didn't read our contract because it said very clearly that the program is allowed to use our images as long as we're on the trip.
Translation: We signed ourselves to whore out big time.
Once that was done, we quickly zombied out to the nearest bus stop.

March 15, 2012
Went back to studio (after Ricky challenged us to be there on time and to get there on our own) and headed up to the second floor, we were then guided to go to the third floor so we can be sorted out who is going to what level of Ulpan. For those who don't know or are unfamiliar with Ulpan, basically it's a "school" for people who travel to Israel (e.g. my program) and need to learn basic hebrew to function. And there are three levels:

Level 1 - The basic alphabet, basically it's 1st grade hebrew.
Level 2 - Learning more words, working more on the pronunciation and grammar, this is Middle School.
Level 3 - Because we know hebrew, this refreshes basic things but teaches how to read the hebrew newspaper.

Before traveling to the program, we all had to take a test to show our hebrew capabilities. And on top of that, when we got there, we had to speak one on one with the woman in charge of Ulpan so she can verify our level. Now let me refresh your memory: I can speak hebrew, Jewish school, hebrew speaking family, the whole shpeal. When I'm panicking (like say, nearly loosing my passport which contains highly important documentations) I suddenly become a natural and nail every pronunciation and grammar. However, I tend to mix actual hebrew and "slang" hebrew as well as basic derp hebrew when speaking normally. So bring me in front of a "teacher", and I'll naturally revert back to Grade A talking.

Luckily it didn't go as terrible as I thought it would and I made it out in one piece and excelling my hebrew (of course, I royally messed up street and road, but that's more tomato tomahto. She was actually surprised by my level of speech and told me that (I apologize if I sound braggy, but this is a rare occasion for me) I had the highest score on the test with a 91%. So naturally I should be in level 3.

Hell. Freaking. Yes.

I later found out that four other people were going to be with me in level 3, and we high fived each other. The rest of the day was bland with more lectures and discovered that we had to get ready for Shabbat dinner. My room versus another apartment to see where we were going to do it, we won and the other apartment had to do it there. I also made the group laugh when we did an ice breaker, it revolved around talking for as long as the match was lit. Mine died quickly so I asked if I could light another, the guy doing the ice breaker said sure if I wanted to, so I quickly lit one and with a smile went "I'm also a pyromaniac." Laughter ensued. We move forward with the next day.

Oh yeah. And it rain pretty hard, and being someone who only comes to Israel during the summer when everything is practically dead, it was a bit of a culture shock for me.

video


March 16, 2012
Our first Shabbat dinner. After Ulpan (where we got out work book and got to know each other), me, my roommates, New York, and P went to the market place (a.k.a the shuk) to get some ingredients for Shabbat dinner. It was a bit drizzly, but nothing a good hoodie couldn't handle. So we wondered on through, and again, culture shock for little ol' me, and I had to grab some shots of Tel Aviv's friday.

I also went and bought myself some bread because the smell was irresistible. New York also bought some bread. After getting some veggies, and the day finally clearing up, we head back to our apartment and placed our groceries into the fridge. A nap was in order. I was planning on taking a shower, but the power to sleep overwhelmed. And I passed out.

When I woke up, I walked around the complex for a bit to see if anyone else was awake, and for the most part, they were all cooking. Belgium M then called for all the girls into her apartment so we can light the candles for Shabbat. One candle per girl, and once we were done, we said happy shabbat and went back to our respective apartment to get down to cooking. My apartment was making Israeli salad, with very VERY powerful onions. It literally put us all to tears, but the outcome was amazing. We then dressed up and headed down stairs to join everyone else for the dinner, which was amazing seeing as everyone brought their A-Game into this meal. The layout, however, was hilarious if anything.

One side was quiet, calm people, mildly discussing about things in general, then there was the middle (where I was) where it was mainly one girl who was talking about politics and would refuse to hear my input (something about my age or something, I don't recall) and then there was the other side. The other side was, to put it bluntly, a bunch of drunks. Five bottles of vodka, whisky, and two bottles of red wine as well as plenty of beer to put Homer Simpson to shame. And this was, according to them, only the pre PRE game. For those of you, like myself, that aren't aware of a pre-game, it is basically you drink your ass off before you go to a bar to drink even more. And most likely head for the club. Me, I'm not a club person, I don't mind the occasional drink, but no more then two MAYBE three drinks. And even then I'm picky with what it is exactly that I'm drinking.


Dinner ended, and we cleaned up the apartment (minus the floor) and left for the next apartment, so that they can pre game (take note how I only used one "pre"). Belgium M became an emotional wreck and techno was blasting while I sat there not knowing what the fuck was going on. Yes, I may not have had the drinking experience, but holy crap there is a lot of work that goes into drinking before drinking. We didn't leave until 11 (which is early) and we just bar hopped until we found what we were looking for. However the term "we" is loosely used seeing as we went as a big group and eventually broke into three smaller groups, mine heading towards one of the madrich's second work spot.

When we go in, a lot of them ordered beer, and I was post-dinner with a dessert craving. So I ordered a White Russian (remember the drink I had before I flew?) which resulted in confused glances as to what the hell I ordered. Clearly these people don't know drinks. It was also there that I learn that they don't actually "drink" but rather get completely plastered drunk with tequila and vodka to the point they get nasty hangovers and achieve black outs. Yup, I'm with real adults. Belgium M, after being an emotional wreck, then screamed in the bar how much she loved me and that I was the best thing to have ever happened on this trip, and to be honest, I never got that as a compliment from a complete stranger, it was actually nice.

To my disappointment, she was in a blackout when she was yelling that. Still, I was flattered even if it was a drunk fest yelling she was doing.

Once I finished my drink, me and another guy decided to call it a night and head home. I tried getting to know him better, but he clearly only talked in argument form, and after the politic shtick that happened at dinner, I was in no mood to argue. Not to mention the White Russian was kicking in at full speed. When we reached home (he lived in another building) I was on my way upstairs when I saw Maryland hanging out with P, Texas, and another british guy, to whom I will call Liver. I was really tired but Maryland insisted that I should stay a bit, and wanting to meet people and be more of a social butterfly, I complied. After thirty minutes, I said screw everything and went to bed.

March 17, 2012
I don't remember much, but I spent time my aunt, uncle, and their kids. We went to a place called Brewhouse (which is the equivalent to Yard House) and ordered some salmon and cider flavor beer with my uncle.

It looks like adult butter beer.

Ulpan, we never touched our book and had to stay in class for five hours. Thank god for my art classes where it is usually three hours, other wise I would've lost my shit. For our last intense class, we had to talk for five minutes in hebrew about anything, and for a while, I was constantly getting bashed on about my age and how I'm still the youngest and therefore 100% ignorant of my surrounding. Yes. Because at twenty one, still fresh in the world and making the decision to live for five months in Israel for a possibility of a career is SOOOOO immature and careless. But for someone who is twenty five and should technically have a job by now and know what the hell it is they are doing, quitting everything for an internship is totally mature.

Yup, I'm clearly confused.

So for the first two minutes, I basically gave a very angry lecture about how age should not factor a person's maturity. And if age is a major issue with people, clearly something is wrong with them. They tried to argue back but I made my point about how annoying it is and to shove off because I clearly am not the typical immature drunken twenty one year old discovering alcohol for the first time. I drank at sixteen, therefore, not rushing to drink. But I digress.

After winning the argument and defending Florida (cause if there is only one person who is allowed to bash it, it's people who actually live in Florida.) I spent the rest of my time saying the internship is home for me. To which leads me to the end of this journal so I may go into the next one to discuss about the internship. The actual juicy part of this trip.

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