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I have also found the language barrier to actually be a really good learning experience...

After being in Israel for a little over two weeks, a few of the cultural differences between Israel and the United States are clear. To start, there is a language barrier between the students at HSI, and the people we interact with in Hod Hasharon. Before arriving on campus, I was told by many people that almost everyone in Israel spoke English. This is why on my first night out in town, I was caught off guard when all of the menus were in Hebrew, and the waiters and waitresses spoke barely any English. After being here for a couple of weeks, it has become much easier to communicate using the few Hebrew words that I know, and using hand gestures. I have also found the language barrier to actually be a really good learning experience and its preparing me for other times when I may not speak the native language.

Another obvious difference is the change in food from America to Israel. In my time here so far, I have eaten pita and hummus as a part of almost every single meal. The food here is much different from the United States but is also very good. I feel really grateful to be exposed and try so many new foods in a new setting. Another major difference involving the food is that lunch is the most important and is the main meal here. On the contrary, in the United States, dinner is the biggest and main meal.

The level of formality in the way people dress is also different in Israel. In America, most people dress very fancy to fancy restaurants. In Israel at fancy restaurants, some people will dress very fancy, and others will dress super casual. Negotiation is another large difference between cultures. In America, basically all prices are for the most part non-negotiable, while in Israel, you can negotiate prices for most products from small stores. I have found this to sometimes be hard, because I feel like I am paying a higher price than I should be. Sometimes though this is helpful. For example, when I was in Jerusalem I negotiated the price of a necklace I wanted down by 20 Shekels.

Finally, a difference in Israel is that the money currency is different here. Here they use Shekels, whereas in the United States we use Dollars. This difference doesn’t seem like much, but it does make it hard to know how much you are spending on a daily basis. I have been able to work through this though by knowing the conversion rate between the two and managing my money.