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"What's balagan?"

If you ever venture to Israel, balagan is a word that you will hear a lot. In English, it roughly translates to a mess. People (especially new immigrants) will often use the word to refer to the government bureaucracy that they have to deal with in the beginning of their time here in Israel. I have read a million and one horror stories from Olim about the balagan they have experienced trying to get the most simple things done here. Luckily for me…I have found the complete opposite here in the Holy Land. Everything has gone incredibly smooth…almost like it was meant to be (:

So since for most people reading this blog, I am the only Israeli Olah you know, my experience is not the norm apparently…but I’m going to tell you about it anyway because it has been so incredibly wonderful. When I first got here, I made an appointment with Misrad Haklita (the government office responsible for immigrant absorption). When I got to the office, for some reason my appointment was not in the system. I fully expected to be turned away without a second thought, but instead this incredibly kind woman found an employee that was not with anyone at the moment, and got me right in. I got my Ulpan voucher and my government payments started and then they scheduled me for a ‘real’ appointment to go over the rest of my benefits and procedures a week or so later. So, one good experience down, another one to come!

I left Ulpan early to head back to my appointment. To my pleasant surprise, the same kind woman that got me in last time, was who I was meeting for my appointment! We ended up talking for almost an hour. She is from Belgium but made Aliyah 32 years ago. She told me when she made the decision to move to Israel, everyone around her couldnt understand why she would give up her promising and easy life to move to the middle east and to a place in the middle of a war. She couldnt quite explain why she felt the need to move, but she did. She always knew in her heart that it was right. She told me story after story of the strength she has seen in the Israeli people (and she has been here during some tough times) and how she kept falling more in love with the country and now could not imagine her life anywhere else…this is her home. She told me she sees the same love and excitement in me that she has in herself and I was so proud to hear that. She just kept talking about how genuinely happy I seemed…and shes right.

Today is my one month Aliyah-versary. It has been the most wonderful month I could have imagined. I think a lot of people were nervous when I moved to this place because I had such high expectations. People would often tell me that they hoped Israel would be everything I was hoping for…but I’m not sure people really believed it would be. But I knew from the second I stepped foot in this country that it would be everything I expected and more…and I havent been disappointed for one second. Everything here, even the mundane things, seem to have a bit of magic to them…something special. Who knows, maybe the balagan is coming later for me, I do still have a lot of government offices to get through, but if my first month has been any indication, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

Also on my one month Aliyah-versary I realize how bad I have been with keeping up with the blog, so I apologize. It’s back on my list of things to do, now that I’m settled! So a few highlights of things I may have missed:

1. I went sailing in the Mediterranean off the coast of Herzliyah (for those of you interested in Israeli geography, this is the city north of Tel Aviv). My friend was in the Israeli navy and loves to sail so he took a bunch of us out on the boat for a few hours and it was so much fun (and I felt very Israeli!)

2. I learned to play Matkot. Matkot is a game that all Israelis play on the beach…you can’t go to any stretch of any beach without seeing at least 5 simultaneous matkot games going on. It’s like ping pong but without the table…and there are no winners or losers. It’s just two people trying to hit the ball back and forth. I thought I would be horrible at it, but I’m shockingly not the worst matkot player in the world (also definitely not the best but…hey, give me time).

3. I’ve been in Ulpan for three weeks and I officially know both the past and present tense and can hold a semi-successful conversation (:

4. I found two new foods I love: first is fried or grilled cauliflower with tahina and spices on top. The second is malabi, which is like a pudding with fruit sauce, coconut and cookie on top. I planned to lose weight when I got here…but the food is just too good to care.

Ive been exploring a lot and of course a lot more has happened, but those are the highlights! (: I will be better about keeping up with the blog from now on!

On to the important stuff: (Especially important since the first trip is booked!!! Mom, Dad and Nana: study up!)

Useful Hebrew words:

בסדר (be-se-der) means okay. When someone asks how youre doing or how something is, this is the most common response!מאוד (may-od) means very. So if something is really good, you can say ‘tov may-od’

Hebrew song: Here.

*The picture at the top is from my favorite park. I study Hebrew there after class all the time and you can see why with that view! !!שבוע טוב

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