Excited to be chosen for the EDI GSL Experience in Israel

Monday, June 22, 2015

Over halfway done? What?!

It's crazy how fast time is going by here. So fast in fact that I totally missed the second week without posting here!
Needless to say, I've been pretty busy. My second week I was at the EEOC, making good progress on the report. I also got to know the people better, which is always a lot of fun, and it's also how you end up learning a place's culture beyond just reading up on it.
Light Festival in the Cave
I also had many adventures outside of work. Rivka and I returned to the Old City to finish up seeing the Light Festival; my favorite part was going into a cave where they had these super cool effects where it looked like drawings were moving because of the light color change. During that week I also found out that some family friends were in Jerusalem for a couple of days, so I met up with them, which was a lot of fun!
Garden Tomb
The week also had an unfortunate event. I was planning on going to Warsaw, Poland for the weekend, but due to the bus driver forgetting and skipping my stop, delaying me over 1.5 hours. I was pretty bummed about it, but I ended up having a really nice weekend in Jerusalem! I met up with the family friends who were in town again, and they took me around the Old City to places I hadn't gotten a chance to see yet. My favorite was the Garden Tomb. You know, there will always be debates about what actually happened where historically, but just seeing a possible setting where Jesus could have died and resurrected was awesome enough! It was actually really powerful; we prayed and sang there, and of course, took some pictures. We couldn't stay long because it was closing, so I hope to return before I finish the internship. Another cool event was that I met up with a fellow Brazilian who is studying medicine here. She's about my age, and we got along really well. It felt nice to make a friend!
The following week I started working at the Commission for Persons with Disabilities. We hit some issues in the beginning with me not being able to access the internet, but we figured out how to make it work. Plus, everyone there is so sweet! I got to have meetings with everyone and learn more about what they do on a daily basis, which is really valuable to me. I get to see what I've been reading about in action! Not many people get the chance to see how governmental offices work, so I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this.
St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow
Judy also came over this week. Rivka planned an outing for us at the Western Wall Tunnels, which was so much fun! She also invited a student from WashU to tag along, so I made another friend! After the tunnels we actually ended up going to dinner and chatting about our experiences. I had an awesome time.
This past weekend I went to Moscow (making sure I did not miss my flight this time) and had an amazing experience! Even though I only had one day, I got to see Moscow's grand and colorful buildings, AND I GOT TO GO TO THE BOLSHOI! They really are such pros, and the ballet was BEAUTIFUL!
Bolshoi Ballet
However, this week also had an unfortunate incident. I went to the doctor in Tel Aviv to get some stuff sorted for getting my visa to Australia (where I'll be studying abroad next semester). Anyway, I had been having really strong pain in my lower back, making it really hard for me to sit and walk (yes, super inconvenient). Since I was already at the doctor, I figured I would get it checked; turns out I got an infection because of a hair (I really wish it were something cooler). This apparently was very common, and the doctor told me it was the number one reason why soldiers were out of the battlefield in World War 2. At least I was like a soldier I guess. That being said, I did have to go through a surgery-like procedure, opening up the area. Everyone loves a surprise surgery when they're alone in a foreign country right? I know I do!
Anyway, it was pretty darn painful, and the painkillers the doctor prescribed were so strong that he had to write the prescription 3 times to convince the pharmacists to actually give me the meds. I'm also on antibiotics. Needless to say, I'm pretty tired and woozy after all that. I'll need a week to recover, but I also have to finish my report for the Commission, so I truly hope I can manage to get it done and get it done well. I am happy I got it all sorted out though, because the doctor said if the infection spread I would have ended up in an emergency room, and as unpleasant as my surprise surgery was, I'm sure an emergency room experience would have been worse.
So long story short, I've been having an amazing time in Israel, including the unfortunate events that will someday make a great story for my grandkids! I can't believe I'm over halfway done with my time here. I already know I'll be upset when my time is over, so I'm going to do my best to take advantage of the time I have left!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Week 1 Over Already!

Today marks the first week since my arrival in Jerusalem, and I can't believe I'm already 1/6 of the way done! The city is absolutely beautiful, and I've hardly scratched the surface of everything I want to see.

I arrived on Saturday, and it was still during Shabbat, which means everything was still closed. Rivka, our student liaison, invited me to have dinner at her house. I had to call for a cab, which came with some language barriers, but thankfully it went smoothly and he took me to the right place. During dinner I met Rivka and her family, who were all absolutely wonderful people. Rivka then told me she would take me around the next day, since I would only begin working on Monday. So we did. She showed me how the train system works and then we went to the Old City. I got to see the Tower of David Museum, which was really really cool. Usually when I go to museum, I have little to no knowledge on the subject of the museum. However, this time I did because so much of it related to the Bible! It's actually very interesting to notice how different the experience becomes when you actually understand many of the references. On Sunday we also did a walking tour of the Old City and I got to see all four quarters.

Monday and Tuesday were my official transition period days. These are the days I get over my jetlag and homesickness. This basically meant that after work I would just go home, talk with my mother on Facetime for a while, and go to sleep. On Wednesday, Rivka took me to see the Light Festival in the Old City. Apparently this is a festival that started a few years ago, and they basically put lights all around the Old City. It was really interesting and I had a really fun time!

Thursday I went to Tel Aviv for work, and I think it's the first time I've ever commuted! It was pretty interesting and Tel Aviv is beautiful as well. I got back in time to go to a Youth Group meeting at King of Kings church that one of the people I met at the bed and breakfast told me about. It took place on a Prayer Tower on Jaffa Road. It was wonderful meeting people my age who had similar interests and values. In fact, I met two girls from Finland who are currently volunteering for Elwyn, which is one of the places I'll be working for while I'm here! I could hardly believe I met them. They were also super sweet, and I hope to meet them again soon.

Friday I was off and Rivka took me exploring again (she really is amazing at her job!). She introduced me to another student who has been here for 7 years. First we went to Ein Karem, which is the place where Mary stayed with Elizabeth for a few months before John the Baptist was born. It was a gorgeous place, and it had absolutely breathtaking views. We also visited a few other places after, including a spring, the Menorah behind the Knesset, and a hiking area with awesome views where we had our picnic style lunch. It was a really fun day.

Today is Saturday once again, and I'm actually heading to the Old City to have lunch with Judge Adler. After that I plan on exploring the Old City some more. I do have only 5 weeks left after all!