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Experiencing Israel through a Bucket List

It’s one week post-list making and life is wonderful. The list is most certainly doing its job, and I’m doing mine by sticking to it…and even going above and beyond it. (See said list here in last week’s blog!)

The first day after I made the list, I went and explored Neve Tsedek with my friend Suzanne from Ulpan. Neve Tsedek is Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhood and has a fully Parisian vibe…people sitting outside at small cafes drinking coffee and eating pastries, small boutiques, eclectic bookstores etc. It’s been on my imaginary list in my head since before I moved here…but after I wrote it down officially, I went and saw what it was all about. In my opinion, the hype is totally worth it. It’s like a little escape from the bustle of Tel Aviv. You feel a bit transported there. We went and got lunch at a really charming restaurant and then ate the worlds best gelato. I definitely need to go back and explore more in depth, but here’s a few of the views!

On Saturday, I went to a Kygo concert. It was one of the most fun nights I’ve had here…and I still passed my Ulpan exam the next morning! On Sunday, I took some time to go to Hilton Hill, read a book and just enjoy the view. I really enjoy being productive and sticking to my long to do list (including 9 lessons of Calculus per day) but just taking some time alone to soak it all in is necessary as well…especially when its 80 degrees and sunny in December.

On Monday, I decided to spend some time at Sarona Market. I have been before, but for specific things. This time, I just wanted to meander around, enjoy the beautiful landscaping, read a book etc. So, I was sitting enjoying the sunshine and reading my Kindle when a man came up to me. He explained that he was a traveling yoga teacher and in fact he was also a monk. I listened to his interesting stories about India and peace and life. He told me he also feeds vegetarian food to the homeless in Israel (which I love of course). He then offered me a free book, which he said changed his life forever. The book is: Bhagavad Gita As It Is. For those who are unfamiliar The Gita is essentially Hindu Scripture (translated from Sanskrit) which speaks about spirituality and how to bring a profound level of peace into your being. He asked me if I would read it, to which I replied, absolutely…and for the next thirty minutes, I sat in the Israeli sunshine and read a new book.

Maybe this book will change my life and maybe it wont but without the list and my conscious effort to go “experience”, I would not have been sitting in Sarona market on Monday afternoon and this monk would not have wandered into my life with a free book. So, I’m going to continue to let the list work its magic and see what else it brings my way (more free stuff please, list!).

After Sarona, I made my way to Misrad Hapnim (The Ministry of Interior) to put in my request for my Israeli ID and Passport (!!!!!) Even though I am already technically officially Israeli, now I’m the real deal…like I get to go in the Israeli passport line at the airport with all the other Israelis real deal. Most people dread going to government offices but I was really excited about it. First, I always feel accomplished when I can go into a place for the first time, speak Hebrew and find my way….so that was exciting in itself. Second, getting my passport just feels like a really big milestone. So count me in!

Tel Aviv is one of those places where if you put good vibes out, you get good vibes back. Now, I’m a firm believer of this idea in every city everywhere on earth but…it holds especially true in Tel Aviv. In Boston, I have been nice and gotten dirty looks in return. In Israel, I’m nice and am immediately met with a warmth and kindness as well. I’ve also had at least five people from different government offices tell me that I look genuinely happy/excited to be here…and theyre not wrong. So as an Olah, I think it’s truly all about what you put out. Government offices are as wonderful (or as miserable) as you make them. I had a great time, laughing and getting to know the man who processed my passport. I still might look a bit like a serial killer in my new passport photo but you know…win some lose some.

On Tuesday, I got offered a job I really wanted! I’ll blog about it more later once everything’s official but, exciting things are definitely happening! As some of you may know, today (Wednesday) is my birthday. It started at a rooftop bar with my boyfriend at midnight, was followed by breakfast with one of my closest friends here in Israel, after which I came home to a plethora of gifts and balloons from my best friend and roommate. I was nervous to hit these ‘milestones’ and go through holidays in a new place without all of my usual friends, family and support but I have to say, I have absolutely found my people here in Israel. Five months in and I am surrounded by people I love as much as anyone Ive known for years. I feel like everything has fallen into place so perfectly for me here in Israel and I constantly think everyday that it is a sign that I am meant to be here. I have found friends that I can confide in about anything and everything, friends that are going/have gone through similar struggles of being an Olah and friends that have lived here their whole lives and can provide me with new perspective. I feel that I have grown as a person more in the past five months than ever before.

I’ve also found that writing down one thing I’m thankful for and one thing I’ve done to help me grow each day (numbers 24 and 47 on the list) has really helped me, even in just one weeks time. I find I complain less, appreciate more and am really more conscious about the choices I make and the things that I do. So….the list is working wonders! One week down, a million more to go! I’m ready for all you have to offer Israel!

P.S. If any of my Israeli readers have any must see suggestions to add to the list, send them my way!

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