Well I wanted an adventure and it seems like I got one…I am writing from Tel Aviv, Israel!
I was afraid that Tel Aviv would feel like New York City with the added bonus of Hebrew and hot Israeli eye candy. I was wrong…very wrong. Yes, there are a lot of people (albeit good looking) and yes, it is a city…but no it does not feel like home (which I am grateful for in many ways as I DID want a new environment). I arrived late late Monday night and spent Tuesday sleeping and walking around the Shuk and some other places that I have no idea the name of.
Yesterday the weather was in the 60s but apparently freakishly cold for the residents of Tel Aviv which made the streets unexpectedly empty (I’d like to see Israelis tackle a NYC winter morning!). Today there is a crazy rainstorm that at times has resembled Hurricane Sandy…not the optimal walking around weather that I had hoped for…so I have found an Aroma coffee shop (a nicer version of Starbucks) and have bunkered down for the afternoon.
Initially I had ventured outside the apartment (somewhere in central TLV) to set up a bank account as on the day I flew out of New York City I misplaced aka lost my bank card…leaving me with very little access to money and sounding like one of those scam emails I receive now and then from friends stating they are “stuck in foreign lands without a cent”. Thankfully my brother was able to help me secure a bit of cash for my first few days until I was able to set up a bank account locally. My trip to the bank proved nightmare. First I stood in the teller line as I would have at home. No English in sight. Several minutes later the teller curtly stated something to me in Hebrew which was translated by a kind Israeli man who happened to be near me that I needed to get a number at this nearby machine which I had mistaken as an ATM. There was nobody else in line but I followed her directions and after fumbling with the touch screen (guided once again by the kind Israeli man)…I was told I didn’t need a number and could directly speak with a woman named Hadar. Hadar wasn’t at her desk so I was “lucky” enough to speak to an unfriendly, unsmiling bank man who told me what documents I would need to open an bank account. He didn’t invite me to sit down he just coldly looked at me as if I was stupid American. Most of the stuff I had with me but I was missing a crucial document so I exited the bank somewhat swiftly. I snap chatted friends a few seconds later that I missed “American hospitality”. So much for being one friendly Jewish tribe.
Thunder, lightning followed by a torrential downpour forced me to seek shelter at Aroma. I ordered an ice coffee which tasted more like a delicious frappachino and had a Skype date with my future Ulpan (more on this later) which will help me unlock the keys to the Tel Aviv universe via learning Hebrew.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED THUS FAR…
1. You must be tough here. Friendliness & smiling get you nowhere.
2. Traffic laws seem to be…optional. Stop signs are ignored so just run really fast.
3. The Shuk Carmel (sp?) is awesome. Go there.
4. Everybody freaks out during rain storms and weather under 70 degrees.
5. There is a boiler in the shower.
More later from the urban Jewland.