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Stephen Muss (Miami)

Israel: A New Way of Life

Discovering life in Israel has been fun and enlightening. Israel is very western in its design, but with a twist of eastern culture that spices up the lifestyle. One of the most important tips for an American coming to Israel is that more expensive does not mean more quality. Although there are some expensive restaurants around campus, it is almost unanimously decided that the best place in town for a delicious snack is the blue falafel stand. The food is tasty and the prices are amazingly low.

Another important lesson I have learned is being familiar with prices and being able to argue if it seems unreasonable. One example of this I have come across was paying for my taxi. The other day I used the app Gett to order a taxi back to Hod Hasharon from my open weekend in Tel Aviv. After I got out I realized the price of the ride was way to much because the driver had taken a slower route than the one shown on my phone. I called the app and was able to get the difference refunded. Another example of this is bargaining in stores. If the stores in Shukim don't have price tags, you are expected to bargain the price. If you are not assertive, you will end up paying a very inflated price; but if you are smart about it, you can get more than half the price of the product down sometimes. It feels very fun and satisfying when done right. In order to do anything well shopping wise, you really need to be aware of pricing, and if you can't think in terms of NIS you should start to get familiar with the conversion rate.

One of the most difficult parts of living in Israel has been navigating the Hebrew language. For all the English speakers out there never fear! The only two phrases I have had to know in Israel are "Anglit" meaning English, and "Efo Shirutim" meaning where's the bathroom. For the most part Israelis and Arabs have spoken English but in the times when I have been in less English speaking areas like in the religious communities and the older communities, these phrases have been all I needed. Some other small things I have noticed have been that drivers are a little bit more reckless, so I've had to become a lot more street smart when in town. I also recommend that if you ever have the option to put pickles and hummus in your sandwich that you always should. It's something I have noticed to be very common Israel and it's basically a lifestyle for me at this point.