I have arrived in Israel! Technically, today is the start to day 2, but since all I’ve done is wake up today and all I’m going to write in this post is about yesterday, I deem it okay to call this post “Day 1.” Now that we’ve gotten past this ridiculousness, I can tell you all about my journey to Israel and my first day here…
Day 1: Monday, 9/8/2014
So I arrived at LAX with 100 pounds of luggage, not including my carry-ons. The man at the El Al counter was very nice and did not charge me for my extra bag (nor for my bag that was 0.2 kilograms overweight). Clearly, off to a good start. After saying a tearful goodbye to my wonderfully amazing parents, I was off. Well, first I had to go through security, where my bag was further inspected. Apparently my Quest protein bars were causing problems. The TSA agent said he’d never had the Vanilla Almond Crunch flavor before, but that he really liked the Cookies and Cream. It was a great bonding moment.
After my Quest bars were cleared for takeoff, I headed to my gate. To be honest, the entire walk there, I kept thinking to myself, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this? What is wrong with me?” I was smart enough to only think this and not actually say it out loud, so as to avoid unwanted judgmental looks. During the long walk to the gate, I was able to calm myself down a bit. I was only at the gate for like 20 minutes before they started boarding the plane. As I gave the woman my ticket, she said to the other woman collecting tickets, “Hee beseder?” which means “Is she okay?” Apparently even the flight attendant knew I was struggling with slight inner turmoil.
The flight was fine. I sat next to a lovely older Persian couple from Orange County who were flying to Israel for their niece’s wedding. We chatted throughout the flight and they commended me on supporting Israel and not canceling my trip during this time. After 14 hours of barely sleeping and getting kicked in the back of my chair multiple times, I saw the Tel Aviv skyline from my window…and proceeded to start panicking again. “What am I doing? Why am I doing this? What is wrong with me?“ At that moment, it had finally become real to me: I’M MOVING TO ISRAEL. What? Am I insane? 6 months away from home, away from everything comfortable and normal. I’m venturing into the unknown and it was terrifying me way more than I could’ve expected. As the plane was landing down, I felt like throwing up from being so nervous. I’d never felt this way before in my life.
As I exited the plane, I said goodbye to my seat buddies and just walked as fast and non-awkwardly as I could to passport control. I thought that maybe I’d feel less nervous once I was actually (legally) in the country. As I stood in line, I saw a woman holding a sign that said “MILLER” on it. I let out a sigh of relief (whether or not it was audible is unknown). I easily cleared passport control, got my luggage with no problems, exchanged some money, and followed the sign with my name. I felt much more relieved.
The woman took me and another girl from my program to a taxi driver. I noticed that the other girl, her name was Lindsey, did not have any luggage. Her airline lost it. I could not imagine what kind of a wreck I would be if my luggage had been lost. The travel gods must have been smiling down on me. So we drove like 45 minutes to my apartment, Lindsey and I talking and getting to know each other. Finally, I arrive at my apartment: Motskin 18 #9.
The building looks old and rickety, so my hopes are not very high. One of the program coordinators and a fellow program mate came to help me up the 4 flights of stairs to my apartment. No elevator. As I lugged one of my 50-pound bags higher and higher, I started to worry again. What if it’s horrible? What if I don’t like my roommates? The door opens and my fears go away. My apartment is gorgeous. Big, spacious, modern, open. It’s wonderful. Apparently the apartment I was supposed to have had some plumbing issues, so we got “stuck” with this one. Oh darn.
I got to meet two of my roommates, Morgan and Lilah. They were so welcoming and sweet. I didn’t have a ton of time to let things sink in just yet. Einav went over some safety and rules for us to follow, and then I could finally relax for a moment. The three of us and another guy from our program, Daniel, started talking and they wanted to go to the beach. Although I was extremely jet lagged and just wanted to take a nap, I decided to join them.
We went to Daniel’s apartment, which was 2 minutes away, and met up with his roommates Tal, Sarah, and Sarah. The 7 of us headed to the beach, a mere 5 minute walk from our apartment. Yes, you read that right, 5 minutes. It wasn’t very crowded, as it was a Monday at like 4:30pm, so it was perfect. I went into the water and it was AMAZING. Very unlike beaches in LA. We sat there for about an hour and half and it was perfect. I could definitely get used to this.
After we got back to our apartment and showered, Morgan, Lilah, and I went to find something to eat. We stumbled across a random market and bought schnitzel and green beans for dinner. I also got a chocolate milk in a bag, which was delicious. We cooked our dinner in our beautiful kitchen and then about 12 other people from the program came over. We all got to know each other, they envied our gorgeous apartment, and we had an amazing time. I was just starting to realize that I had been awake for well over 24 hours when everyone left. I went to my room and happily tucked myself into bed at around midnight.
Today is orientation, so I will keep you all posted on how that goes. Day 1 was wonderful, and I’m looking forward to the rest of my days in Israel!
-Girl in Israel 🙂