Friday, June 22, 2012

Don't Sweat It

Shalom, chaverim! We're in the thick of it now--only three more Ulpan class days before the final written exam next Wednesday. We took a practice test in class on Thursday, but instead of freaking out about the test itself, we nearly had a class mutiny over the air conditioner. Half of the class was too cold with the air conditioner on, so some students covered the vents with a large poster board. The other half of the class then nearly passed out from the heat, and found it extremely difficult to concentrate. We ended up switching places during the break: the "hotties" moved to the back of the class to be closer to the vents, and the "coldies" moved to the front of the class, away from the draft. Then we had trouble with several students talking and disrupting the class, and our teacher had to threaten to expel them from the room. Drama!

Clearly, the stress is beginning to take its toll. For almost everyone in the class, this is our first summer in Israel and many are having difficulty adjusting to the heat and humidity. Three of our classmates are also having "Ulpan babies," in that they became pregnant after Ulpan started, so it must be even worse to be "sweating for two." I must say, though, we were all repeatedly warned by everyone about Nahariya summers. Yes, it really does get very hot and sticky, and it's probably going to keep getting hotter until the end of August.

These students are learning English, but the classroom layout looks exactly like ours. Except that we are seated from right to left. Thanks to for image.

The heat has not been much of a problem for Elul and me, fortunately, since we had a good year's worth of practice by living in Boca Raton, Florida, before we made Aliyah. However, after spending each morning slogging away in Ulpan, by the time we get home in the afternoon we are soaked through with sweat and need to lie down in a dark room in order to recover. We then emerge hours later, when the heat of the day has begun to wane. Now that I'm living through it, I really appreciate the sensible practice of having a siesta. Even the street cats are nowhere to be seen during these hot hours.

Our thoughts are beginning to turn to "what do we do next?" We're not sure. We need to get our university diplomas recognized by the State of Israel, and we need to sign on with the unemployment agency the minute Ulpan is over. We need to create resumes in Hebrew, and I certainly need to get some professional advice about how to explain various gaps and abrupt career shifts in my job history. It's daunting, because even though our oral exams went very well, and our written practice tests also are getting good marks, we know we're not able to converse fluently yet. Likewise, we don't have a car, which will either limit us to local employment opportunities or will necessitate a long commute. Finally, Elul's profession (television news anchorman and independent videographer) is not exactly in high demand in a town with no local television station and where the vast majority of the viewers are fluent only in Hebrew or Russian.

However, to paraphrase the great David Ben-Gurion, you cannot be a realist in Israel and not believe in miracles. Miracles can and do happen here with startling regularity, so perhaps we'll obtain some professional success here as well.

Shabbat shalom, everyone!


  1. If it gets too warm grab a blanket and a beach umbrella there is usually an breeze off the ocean

    1. Indeed there is, Jake! That's why I love Nahariya so has great beaches that don't cost an arm and a leg to lie on.

  2. Reading this post I thought for a minute you were in my ulpan class!
    We are also divided along "air conditioner" lines and have some students always chatting away disrupting others. Seems these are common issues in ulpans across Israel!
    PLUS - I am also in the film/tv industry looking for work (as a video producer/editor). What a small world!

  3. Elahn, I was also surprised by how many olim had/have the same problem in their Ulpan(s). You too, eh? This warning about Ulpan air conditioner wars should probably go in the NBN's "Aliyahpedia," it's such a common complaint. Hang in there!

  4. Lol. Thanks Selah. Love your posts. Keep it up!


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