Okay, okay, I lied. So sue me. How can I NOT blog about my first day at Middlebury's intensive Hebrew immersion program? I'll give you some bullet points. But wow, it's going to be one heckuva ride.
+ Our building is sans air conditioning, and with the tznius dressing, this makes Chavi one miserable little pickle. I'll be doing laundry probably twice a week. Thanks for the warm, icky, and constantly rainy weather, Mama Nature!
+ My roommate is from Lebanon. My initial reaction was "sweet, we can make peace in the Middle East, just me and the roomie." My second reaction was "man, I don't know much about Lebanon, but I have a rock taken from a bombed out Lebanese headquarters near the border that is now under Israeli control." We're both the easy going types, so I don't foresee World War III or anything, and if anything, I anticipate a friendship will be born. She's returning to Lebanon after the course, and maybe I'll get a house invitation?
+ There are people here from every walk of live and from every inch of the world. We have someone from England, the aformentioned roommate from Lebanon, a gal from South Africa, someone from Gaza, and someone from Palestine. Now, my initial reaction to all of this was "Whoa! Gaza! Gnarly!" and then when I met the girl from Palestine, well, I wasn't sure how to react. I've never met anyone who says they're from Palestine. It's usually, I'm from Israel, but I'm Palestinian. I'm a Palestinian Israeli. But being from Palestine? I have to think about this. But the ages vary from just out of high school to people working for the government in their middle/late ages. There are a lot of rabbinical students (mostly of the Reform/Reconstructionist bent), and a lot of international relation students, too. And there are a few like me, rocking the academia and needing a boost.
+ Our first meal, we went to the cafeteria where they were supposed to have kosher meals a'waiting (prepackaged this weekend, then real food henceforth), but they didn't have anything. For the past day I've mostly done salads, and it works. There's also an abundance of fruit. But eating the prepackaged Turkey and/or Meatloaf meals for every meal this weekend did not sound yummy on the tummy. However, supposedly the actual kosher here is delish. The upside to being kosher? I don't get tempted to nosh all the ice cream they have ...
+ It's beautiful here. I can't describe it, but it's just serene, quaint, quiet. And there are a million bugs everywhere and I appear to be as sweet as honey. Pass the aloe?
+ We're staying in a "house." Everyone (well, mostly) has a roommate and we all have common areas. I'll have to take some photos of the building. But we have a kitchen (can't use!) and a game room, as well as a big sitting area/living room that's pretty cool. It's neat having our own house, though. Outside the sign says Hebrew (in ivrit of course) and we all travel in packs like ducks.
+ I am one of two shomer shabbos people here. There are several others who are kosher, and there's a faculty member who is shomer, I believe. It made one of the activities last night ("draw something ...") kind of difficult. It will be a challenge, that's for sure. Probably more of a challenge for me to stay where I'm going than for those around me. Explaining my name, my story, it won't be possible after tomorrow. It's going to be a tough time here. I already miss the community in W. Hartford ... not to mention Challah.
+ We did Havdalah tonight in one of the teacher's "homes" here. There weren't many of us, but it was special. As a result, I'm missing the movie tonight -- I had to come home and shower, and getting dressed only to dirty another outfit just wasn't my prerogative tonight.
There was so much over Shabbos I wanted to write about. Starting tomorrow my thoughts will be compiled in a handy-dandy notebook (thanks Blue's Clues) b'ivrit. The day starts with a test, some music, a pledge, and then silence throughout the house I think. Shabbos was lonely because there weren't children running around, there wasn't hours-long meals and napping was nearly impossible with the heat. This place? It's a hotbox. It was interesting, I guess. I'm perpetually exhausted from the heat, the talking. But it will get better, surely, when we take the pledge and start really learning.
At any rate, I'm sure that the rest of the seven weeks will be more interesting, and I think it will be interesting to watch some of the conflicting personalities (with unique beliefs about the Middle East) attempt to express themselves b'ivrit. It will be, if anything, frustrating. But I love everyone here so far. The uniqueness and connections are amazing.
So, with that, Shavua tov, and so long!