Living in Israel is different than living in Seattle, or any other place in the US.
Living in Israel is different than living in Seattle, or any other place in the US. It’s not just the fact that signs and menus are in Hebrew or that Hebrew is the language floating around the streets instead of English. There is a culture difference. Israelis are more assertive and confident, there is less patience for indecision and you don’t have to say sorry when you’re pushing through a crowd. Just today, we went to Machane Yehuda, the shuk in Jerusalem and it was complete chaos, loud and full on people; Israelis getting read for Chag and tourists alike. On some streets, there was barely enough room to stand - the overflow was walking in the street near the curb. Everyone was pushing and shoving to get where they needed to go, navigating around the displays, strollers and many other people. If you wanted to walk you simply had to push forward, not apologize or wait your turn, you just go. And this is true everywhere else in Israel. This is not to say that you can’t still be polite, but you have to be more confident in yourself if you want to get anywhere, both literally and metaphorically.
It is also important to be confident in yourself in a more private place like the campus or the dorms. Even though there are more Americans than Israelis, it takes a different and equally important self-assurance to live as a study-abroad student in Israel. Although we have our madrichim and teachers, we are much more independent. Basic routine tasks like homework, meals and cleaning our rooms aren’t regulated as they might be at home. The only person to remind you to eat or study is yourself and even with inspection once a week, the dorm room only stays clean if you keep your belongings organized. This type of independence requires self-responsibility. It is also necessary to know yourself. Sometimes you need to stay back in your room for the evening instead of going out into the town if there is homework that you need to do, or a test the next day. And choosing the right place to study can also be difficult. One of the great things about living in the dorm is that we have the opportunity to help each other with homework and form study groups. The downside of this is that it is easy to get distracted with your friends. This is all to say that being confident in your self is crucial to living as a student in Israel.