Remember when I said I wouldn’t be updating often at the end of the semester because I had so many finals to work on? Procrastination definitely wins this round. I’ve ended up writing blog posts instead of writing papers, which I guess is still semi-productive?
Anyway, a couple of things that have cropped up recently:
As the semester comes to a close, I’ve started trying to really take in everything that makes Jerusalem different. The orthodox men walking around in black wide-brimmed hats, buildings made of stone, signs in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, etc. One of my favorite little moments during the day is my walk to and from school when I pass Hadassa Hospital on my way up and down Mount Scopus. There’s a bus stop outside that serves both Israeli and Arab buses, meaning that the passengers waiting at the stop are always pretty varied. It’s one of the few places that I’ve seen around Israel where strangers from the two populations spend any amount of time together, even though they normally don’t talk or associate with one another. Jewish men with long beards sit next to women in hijab, while international students from Hebrew University rush by. It’s always fun to see who’s waiting there each day.
Next to the bus stop, there’s also a small convenience stand that sells snacks and newspapers. It’s run by an Egyptian man who’s always there- he opens in the morning, and closes at sunset. During one of my last walks home, I caught him looking at one of the Hebrew newspapers, reading the front page. He held his finger under each line, moving it slowly along each word as he formed sounds with his mouth. The guy obviously speaks Arabic, and has mastered English pretty well. It was cool to see him actively working on learning the language of someone who is historically supposed to be his enemy.
This last week has been full of final tests and papers. It’s already been a little strange for me to take classes here, because they’re so much smaller than what I’m used to, and the semester system is different from UCSB’s quarter system. Adjusting to finals was no easier. Hebrew University really takes this stuff seriously- each final had two proctors administering it who assigned us seats (each of which were two seats and one row away from any other student) and checked our identity multiple times. We had to sign off on our test, and professors had almost no say in the layout of the class or instructions given to us. Everything goes through the main office. Making things even more interesting was the fact that these proctors spoke almost no English. They gave directions completely in Hebrew, and our test-taking booklet even opened from right to left and had no English on it. I had to ask repeatedly for them to explain things in English, and even had to get other students to show me where to write my name on the test. At one point, one proctor asked me, “Aren’t you here to learn Hebrew??” to which I muttered a defiant “….no.” under my breath. That was fun.
Finals week also marks the beginning of the end of my year abroad. I can’t believe how quickly this semester went! A few friends have already started setting off for home, which makes things really weird. I keep catching myself thinking that they’re just going off for another spring break trip. After tests end, we literally only have a day or so to get packed and move out, so I’m sure it’ll be a little bit of a shock to find myself moving out again. Time flies when you’re… eating too much falafel in Jerusalem?
Next up: the long journey back to the States!