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I think it’s really interesting to observe the differences between Israelis and Americans...

It’s been weird living in a foreign country! I have traveled outside of the United States before, but I have never experienced being out of my comfort zone for a long period of time before this trip. My first few weeks have been so fun, though!! I think it’s really interesting to observe the differences between Israelis and Americans–there’s definitely a lot of them! From the rules of the roads to the way we interact with one another, everything Israelis do has a touch of uniqueness to it. I’ve noticed that Israelis are a lot more aggressive while driving and waiting in lines. They seem to want to get from one point to another in the fastest way possible. Therefore, if you’re crossing the road they may not necessarily slow down for you. My Israeli Studies teacher, Jacob, discussed this in class with us. He explained that a lot of this has to do with the geography of Israel. We are surrounded by many of the countries who give the the least support. This means that Israelis have to be on-call at all times. When you are surrounded by people who don’t like you, you may not be as easy-going as if you were surrounded by your best friends. Jacob compared the geography of Israel to Australia. Australians have a “go with the flow” reputation and a lot of that may have to do with the fact that they are an isolated island, far from many other countries or threats.

Shopping is also so different in Israel, specifically Hod Hasharon (where MUSS is located)! Stores tend to be smaller and less corporate. Additionally, much of the clothing that I have seen doesn’t have a price tag on it. A lot of the time, my experience shopping has been bargaining with the store owner as opposed to a fixed price. However, you have different experiences wherever you go. I have had multiple store owners give items free of charge and I have also had store owners charge different prices for the same item for me and a friend. It’s very important to be friendly and open-minded when going into stores because that’s what the store owners love to see!

Overall, my experience has been amazing so far. I truly do feel like I am immersed in the Israeli culture now that I have been here for almost three weeks. It’s crazy that we have covered so much land in so little an amount of time. I have enjoyed trying to food, going to new shops, and interacting with new people. MUSS has truly been a very special time!!!