29 January 2008

The Storm

We're having quite the storm here.
Ok, I know what you're thinking. "You live on the Mediterranean, in the Middle East! What kind of serious storm could you possibly have?"
This isn't your Midwestern U.S. tornado, it's true, or your Florida hurricane. It doesn't storm here very often, but when it does, you'd better run for cover.
It's not just the wind, it's the fierce, biting, severely blowing wind. Add to that the big, fat rain we get here, and the massive lightning and thunder at 9 in the morning while you're on your way walking to work because you missed the bus.
The cold wouldn't be so bad anywhere else, except that because we are in the Eastern Mediterranean, with sweltering, disgusting summers and humidity to boot, the concept of central heating does not exist. Oh, of course people know about it, but those people live in multi-million dollar homes in Herzliya Pituach and Caesarea and go on yacht trips throughout the Mediterranean and spend weekends in Paris.
I tried to switch on a little heater at work so that I wouldn't have to sit there in my winter coat, but that tiny little heater blew the breaker for the entire office. Oops! Wasn't me!
The storm is supposed to clear up this weekend, hopefully.
There is another storm, however, that's gripping the country, and this one doesn't mean snow in Jerusalem.
This storm is the release today (Wednesday 5pm) of the Winograd report, which is a report on the government's and military's actions/inactions/failures/successes during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. The storm is that most people it seems believe that the current government (which was in power then) basically failed in every way and that the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, should be forced to resign. This report could mean the end of the government. I for one would be in favor of having a new prime minister - Tzipi Livni, for example (the current foreign minister) - but we'll have to wait and see what happens.
Until then, just trying to stay warm and dry.

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08 January 2008

Back to School - Ulpan & Post-IDEX

I've started to going to ulpan again. Twice a week, Sundays and Tuesdays after work.

Aside from the article I have due tomorrow (deadlines, deadlines), for which I just got an initial response from the main subject today, things have finally begun to calm down at work. Aside from tonight (and tomorrow if I don't finish this article tomorrow afternoon), and exceptions such as when we're closing the magazine and the closing date happens to fall on the day that I don't work on the magazine, I'm not working in the evenings anymore, and my weekends are not filled with OH-MY-GOD-I-HAVE-TO-FINISH-THIS-ARTICLE-OR-I'M-DEAD-MEAT!

All this to say that I suddenly found myself in the last month quite bored and with a lot of time on my hands. Of course this is all relative. Let's just say I suddenly found myself with a bit more free time on my hands than I was used to in the almost hellish previous six months at work.

So I began thinking about what I want my future in Israel, post-IDEX, to look like. Of course, this is still a work in progress, and I'm not sure what the future will hold, but I know that I want to go to graduate school and get my master's degree.

While life here can get pretty tough, and the government agencies most of the time are less than helpful (to say the least), one of the really cool things they do for new immigrants my age is to cover the tuition for their next degree. For example, in my case, I already have a BA from an accredited university, so the Student Authority will pay for my Master's degree tuition. All of it.

I'll still have to pay for books and housing and all manner of things like this, but my tuition will be covered. If I study in Israel in the next two years, I get a Master's degree, completely free. Now, never being one to pass up a good deal, this is a good deal I just can't pass up.

All this to say that I decided to do something, to take an initial step toward my second degree - go back to Hebrew school.

I've been here for a year, two months and ten days. My Hebrew is getting along, but it's definitely not where it could be, or where it needs to be to do a master's degree in Hebrew. The good thing about being a native-English speaker is that all of the reading material, research material and papers will be in English. It's only the lectures and study groups I'll have to manage through in Hebrew.

This is only the first step. There's a lot more work to do. But taking that first step, knowing that I'm moving forward, made me feel very happy, satisfied and proud of myself. Just thought I'd share that.

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