11 August 2016
Aside from a Taylor Swift song and a bad break in blackjack, this number represents how many hours we traveled to get here. We met as a somewhat sleep-deprived group in DC and became a physically exhausted on bunch landing in Tel Aviv. I was hit by a level of fatigue I hadn’t experienced since finals week of college. Our guide, Tom, described it as “in shock”, an accurate assessment of our zombie-esque expressions and drooping shoulders. Thankfully i was rejuvenated by our new Israeli friends. A few of us sat in the back of the bus with them and thoroughly enjoyed how open they were. We shared stories of our cultures and tried to learn how to properly pronounce their names, many of which required us to use unfamiliar consonants and sounds. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned is that Israelis are required to join the military after finishing high school, whereas most Americans go off to college, they began training as combat soldiers, combat officers, and engineers. Our new friends struck me as bright, funny and easy going and were eager to interact with Americans their age.
The first two days have proven to be a delicate mix of fun, challenging, and informative. Our group is eager , yet patient and willing to listen and learn about this fascinating land. We have bonded quickly, developing a fairly strong sense of community after a short period of time. Overall, it seems that Israeli people get just as much done as Americans, but with half the stress. They don’t dwell on mistakes or misunderstandings, much like many Europeans, they say what needs to be said and move on. Our culture is so heavily focused on achievement and progress that we sometimes forget to relate to others as humans.
Today, we hike and visit the holy city of Tzfat in the afternoon. We are ready to absorb more knowledge and of course, drink much more water.
By Julian R.