Day 2: Exploring Tel Aviv

Day 2: Tuesday, 9/9/2014

Today was our first official program day. After sleeping for a whopping 6 hours, I awoke at 6:30am, 2 hours earlier than I would have liked to start my day. Thanks jet lag, I really appreciated that. When it was actually time to wake up, I got ready and Morgan, Lilah, and I headed to the Habima Square, a 30-minute walk from our apartment. Even at 9 in the morning, the heat and sun bore down on us immensely. Luckily I had about a gallon of sunscreen on (skin safety is important, my friends). I only got one block before I decided put my hair into a braid, which was a great choice.

Our walk down Dizengoff Street and Ben Gurion Street was really nice. The streets had dividers in the middle, and every so often we’d see some playground equipment for kids to play on. There were trees everywhere, the wind shaking them and leaves falling onto the sidewalk (and occasionally on us). It was hot, but very beautiful. I had taken pictures of the Google Maps directions, and we arrived there without a hitch.

I forgot to take a picture, so this is one I found online
I forgot to take a picture, so this is one I found online

Habima Square is where we started our day. We arrived and saw a few familiar faces from the night before, but many unfamiliar ones. We were gathered into a circle (in the shade, thankfully) and told that we were taking a walking tour around Tel Aviv. But first, we obviously needed to do an icebreaker game, right? Every good program has to have a good icebreaker game…or 3. By the end of the day, we’d played 3 icebreaker games. This first game was to say your name, where you’re from, and what you’ve heard about Tel Aviv. There was a microphone being passed around so we could hear each other, but unless it was almost touching your lips, you could barely be heard. When the mike got to me, I hurriedly said “Hi, I’m Adina. I’m from Los Angeles. I know that Tel Aviv has great beaches and a fun night life.” I guess I’d have to meet people the old-fashioned way, by actually speaking to them. How primitive.

So we walked around Tel Aviv. Our guide would periodically stop and tell us stories about the city, but to be honest with you, I was way too tired to pay attention. Sorry. I guess if you want to hear about the history of Tel Aviv, you’ll have to come visit me here… 🙂 I did, however, get to meet almost every single person on the trip. I won’t say all of their names now, but I’m sure the “important” ones will pop up on this blog in the future. Everyone seemed extremely friendly and I loved hearing about where they were from, what internship they were doing, and why they chose to do this program. I think I’m going to enjoy getting to know these people better.

I’ll give you some highlights of the day. We stopped at the Shuk Carmel for lunch. A few of us found a falafel and shwarma shop, so I obviously had to get my first (of many) shwarmas of the trip, right? Right. Shwarma is the most important food group in an Israeli diet.

Here I am thoroughly enjoying my shwarma!
Here I am thoroughly enjoying my shwarma!

I also learned of a really cool coffee shop called “Cofix,” where EVERYTHING is 5 shekels (about $1.50). I got an iced coffee, which in Israel is like a frappucino-like smoothie, and it was DELICIOUS, as expected. Starting to realize that a lot of this blog is going to be about me telling you what I’m eating. I hope no one minds that. If you do, tough cookies. See, food reference. Okay, moving on now.

This tour started at 9:45am. We finally finished at 3:00pm, and I was falling over from exhaustion. Over 5 hours of a walking tour is hard work. But wait, there’s more. Time for icebreakers, rounds 2 and 3! Yay? We got in a circle in a nearby park and had to say our name and an adjective that started with the same letter. Kind of like an alliteration, but not really because our program director made a comment when a girl named Keren said the adjective “cute” and that although that wasn’t how the game was supposed to be played, since she was from Brazil she’ll let it slide. I was apparently in a slightly sassy mood and said, “I’m Adina. I would say I’m awesome, but since we have to give an explanation, I’ll say I’m adventurous,” and then I rambled on about how whenever I get lost, I call it an adventure. I got a few chuckles.

Now it’s icebreaker round 3! Don’t let my exclamation point fool you, I wasn’t excited. It was time for “two truths and a lie.” Now, I feel like every program loves to play this game, so I had my options saved on my phone. I know, I’m weird. But that’s why you all love me, right? My three things were:

1) I sucked my thumb until I was 5

2) I’m allergic to honeydew melon

3) I’ve done martial arts since I was 8 years old

I hope you know know which ones is the lie. I usually stump people on these three things, but since you all know me pretty well, I assume you can figure it out.

Icebreakers were now OVER. For that day. Today is actual orientation, so I’m assuming more icebreakers will ensue. Great. We heard from a past program participant who was hired by the company he interned for. He answered questions about the program and what it’s like to live in Tel Aviv. It was pretty interesting, but again, tiredness was totally kicking in. He also then put a shameless plug for his company, which was looking for interns in the marketing and advertising field. We received our bus passes, which gave us free transportation throughout Tel Aviv, and the day’s activities were over. Now, I needed to get an Israeli cell phone.

I went with two other girls, both named Sarah, to Dizengoff Center, a huge mall in Tel Aviv. We talked to a few providers and finally found a plan that worked. They both decided to get Israeli SIM cards for their phones. I kind of just wanted a crappy phone that I could get rid of at the end of the trip, (plus my SIM card was locked by AT&T apparently, which is yet another reason to love AT&T…not. My parents will understand this pain). There was nothing like this, so I ended up not getting an Israeli cell phone yet. It will be done by the end of the week though, don’t worry.

The Sarahs and I wandered around the mall and got dinner. Then it was time to get home. We had searched which bus we needed to take and headed to the bus stop. A bus with a different number, but a similar route, pulled up and I said to the driver, “yesh li she’elah” which means, “I have a question.” He curtly responded with, “no questions, get on or off.” I ignored him and asked if he stopped at Jabotinsky Street, the cross street for my apartment. When he said yes, I gave the Sarahs the all-clear and I got home 15 minutes later. Yes, I successfully navigated my way home in an unfamiliar city. I’m so proud of myself, it’s a little sad.

I got home, and my roommate Lilah had a few of her Israeli soldier friends over. We make some snacks and talked for a few hours before I realized I needed to go to bed. Another fun day, this one a bit more exhausting. I’m now about to get ready for Day 3, orientation day. I will keep you posted, as promised.

-Girl in Israel 🙂

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