Saturday, August 3, 2013

What I've Been Doing On My Summer Vacation

Shalom, chaverim! It is with a great sense of embarrassment that I return to writing this blog, since it's been so long since my last post. However, I have not forgotten it, and, after a few pointed emails from readers encouraging me to post again (and reassure them everything was okay over here), here I am. I hope the summer is treating all of you well--Nahariya has been its usual hot and humid self, but beautiful just the same. July and August are the months where you usually count on changing clothes at least two or three times a day, depending on how many times you go out, and showering once, twice, or even three times. So, weather aside, here's an update on what's been happening.


A lot has been going on since I last posted. First, I went through the craziness of attending the last classes, and getting all my final assignments in, for "THE COURSE." Frankly, even though it was very educational and worthwhile (not to mention mandatory for obtaining my Israeli teaching license), it was a lot of work. I spent many days off cranking out papers and projects, while Elul was either stuck at home and bored, or out with friends having fun. He's seen a lot more of Israel than I have now, because I've had to miss so many outings. But now THE COURSE is over and most of the grades are in. I did pretty well, which was a relief, although it really doesn't matter that much what one's grades are. The important thing is that you pass it and that your profile gets updated with the Ministry of Education.

However, now the job before me is to improve my Hebrew as much as I can, so I can get into the next round of 180 class hours (plus homework and exams) of coursework. I really don't know how I am going to achieve this. How do you achieve an eighth grade level of linguistic proficiency in a year and a half, when you don't have a private teacher, a class to join, or funds to pay for either? Hmm.

Anyway, that's the news about the first part of THE COURSE: an ongoing saga about which you will be sure to hear more over the coming months and years. The good news is, I finally joined the teachers' union--the Histadrut. Actually, the Histadrut is the union for all public servants, I think. It makes me happy that I'm part of the organization that Golda Meir first worked at as a cashier after making Aliyah, and then eventually headed up. From what I gather, teachers' unions are not terribly popular with teachers themselves here, but nearly everyone is a member anyway. There are two, in fact: the Histadrut covers elementary and middle school teachers, and the "Irgun ha'Morim" covers high school teachers. Since I'm teaching middle schoolers (G-d help me), I opted for the Histadrut.


The other major time-suck I've been dealing with during my summer vacation has been going to various medical appointments, hither and yon. A test for this, a scan for that, a committee meeting of doctors I have to attend in Tel-Aviv this week, etc. Nothing serious so far (fingers crossed), just a lot of nagging little things that need attending to.

Here's a hint: We recently purchased a heavy-duty hand fan that I can keep with me AT ALL TIMES.

I've also been sick for the last eight weeks with an upper respiratory bug, that resulted in the Mother of All Coughs. The cough took three stabs at medical treatments (one round of antibiotics, another series of cough suppressants and other remedies, and now another type of medicine) before any real improvement showed. This cough was so bad I've had to cancel or reduce my contribution to singing performances. The concomitant  hoarseness also negatively affected my work as a news narrator for one of my other jobs. This cough is no joke. Case in point: a friend of ours had the same bug. He woke up one night to have a coughing fit. He ended up passing out, falling to the floor, and fracturing his spine. He spent many days in the hospital, needs to be fitted for a heavy-duty brace, and can't work.

Driving Lessons

Elul and I finally girded our financial loins, so to speak, and have begun the process of getting an Israeli driver's license for yours truly. I had my first lesson yesterday, and as I haven't driven a car in over nineteen months (not to mention having barely driven at all since I sold my own car in 2010), my driving instructor was relieved that I hadn't forgotten how to drive completely. "I don't teach people how to drive," she said, wagging her finger threateningly. "I only teach them how to pass the test."

However, all is not completely "beseder" (fine) with my driving. "Clearly, you know how to drive, and you will be a good driver in Israel. However, you don't know, at all, how to drive to pass a driving test. They are two different things! You will need at least four or five lessons, I think," she concluded. At 100 NIS (about USD $30) a pop for a 45 minute lesson, that's a nice chunk of change.

Getting a license in Israel is a big deal and a big financial commitment, and it usually ends up costing about USD $500 to $600 just to convert a non-Israeli license into an Israeli one. Fortunately, I don't have to take the theory exam...yet. If I don't pass my practical exam two times in a row, however, I will have to take the theory exam as well. I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. One lady I know of has passed her theory exam, but has failed her practical exam three times already and still hasn't passed. Yow! Oh, and there's a long waiting list for driving exams, so I probably won't even get a chance to take my first exam until the middle of September or so. Still, it's a rite of passage that I want to go through. Driving in Israel can be a bit hairy, but frankly, most of the drivers I've seen here are not much worse than the drivers we encountered in Boca Raton, Florida, or California drivers who had moved to Las Vegas. The thing to remember, though, is that the prevailing Israeli attitude towards traffic laws is to treat them as "suggestions," as opposed to actual rules. Everything's negotiable!

So, that's all the news that's fit to print from our little corner in Eretz Yisrael. Shabbat shalom, chaverim!


1 comment:

  1. I am sure they checked you for whooping cough but thought I should mention it-a couple of kids I know had it in the North-it is going around and is just what you described. In any event, hope you are feeling better.


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