Being an American in Israel is less difficult than I expected.
Being an American in Israel is less difficult than I expected. Yes, the language barrier can be challenging, but thanks to Google Translate, that is not a very big issue! I have found that by being in an environment where English is not the main language, it sets me up for success as a world traveler. I am able to work around the language barrier by using hand gestures and the few Hebrew words I know, which allows me to communicate with non-english speakers.
Another difference between Israeli and American culture that I have frequently experienced are the aggressive drivers. They tend to speed up at crosswalks and then stop for pedestrians at the last second. They seem to be much more impatient, but since I know we have the right of way, I walk anyway and the cars stop (I always look both ways just incase, though). Along with drivers being impatient, I have noticed that some people push their way up to the front of line instead of waiting their turn. I heard the stereotype of Israelis being aggressive and pushy before I came, and honestly, it is pretty accurate. Israelis push their way to the front of the line not just in driving, but also in regular life. The concept of a line is just not prevalent here, as I have seen on numerous occasions. One time in a coffee shop, I was not paying attention and the people behind me pushed their way to the front. I felt bad politely asking them to move out of the way, so I just let them cut me in line, but it was an interesting concept to observe. I also noticed that some of the personality traits are different - being sarcastic is not a very understandable idea. Israelis tend to be more direct when they are speaking to you instead of “sugar-coating” what they want to say, so I think being sarcastic (which tends to mask the meaning behind a phrase) is incomprehensible to Israelis. I also think sarcasm is a part of the English language that Hebrew does not have- which leads to Israelis who speak both languages less understanding of the idea.
The food in Israel is also different. At home, dinner is our main meal, while it is lunch in Israel. Salad foods are also popular in the morning in Israel which is different than it typically being a lunch food in America. I have also noticed that many items are less expensive here, than in America. For example, I bought an IDF sweatshirt that was 20 dollars in Israel, but it would normally be 35 dollars at home. Bargaining is another cultural change - in America, the price is set and there are no alterations or negotiations. However, in Israel we are encouraged to talk down the price of our goods, especially since we are American. One bad thing about this is that people have warned us that since we are American, shop owners may take advantage of that and purposely charge more money since we are not familiar with negotiating. However, a good thing is that I have been able to get prices lower than they should be through this.
In my time in Israel, I have noticed many differences in the culture from America. Although it was an adjustment at first, I have really enjoyed managing my way around Israel and experiencing this new environment. I can’t wait to keep exploring!