Sunday, September 7, 2008

We learns the Hebrew

Okay, we confess: we cheated. We couldn't bear the thought of getting up before 6am to ride a bus full of little schoolkids to ulpan today. Starting ulpan was stressful enough. So we took a taxi. It wasn't bad, NIS* (₪) 38, and for some reason, the driver rounded it DOWN to ₪ 35. Yes, DOWN. Maybe he felt bad for us after we told him we were going to the primary school for ulpan (Hebrew school).

First the transportation good news. Someone offered us a lift home today, right to our door. Wonderful. There is another couple in our class who drive and live right near a bus line that goes to our house. It's also very walkable from their building. We'll beg talk to them tomorrow about possibly carpooling. The other bit of potentially good news is our neighbourhood #2 bus stops near stairs that lead up to Rehov (street) Reuven, where the ulpan is. We'd never know that from the schedule, and looking at the map, the bus stop looks too far from Reuven to walk easily. So tomorrow, we try the #2! One bus, one route, maybe 10 minutes or so of walking (or climbing, if you want to get technical).

Ulpan was good. It started out a little chaotic, but eventually the teachers broke the class into two groups. Then our instructor had each of us give our name and tell where we're from, where we live, if we have family here. All in Hebrew, of course. Then we all had to write our little stories. Same information, plus a sentence or two about what we do for work. That was fun. I write just fine, but I don't know how to spell anything. Hebrew is very logical, so I think it's a relatively easy language to learn, but spelling is a different story all together. There are so many ways to indicate the "ah" sound, two letters for "v", two letters for "k", two letters for "s", two letters for "t" - there are endless possibilities for some words! Somehow, the teacher understood my story.

At 10:30 she explained that would normally be our break time, but today, we could go home. Since everything is stone and marble, every sound echoes, so sometimes it's a little hard to hear. And even though our teacher promised to speak slowly, sometimes she would go too fast for me. And everything is "rak Ivrit" (only Hebrew), no English allowed. But we got through it. Ultimately, the only mishap of the day was trying to find the ladies room in the boys yeshiva. We had permission to use the bathroom in the administrative office, so I asked someone to show me where the "sherutim" (bathrooms) are. I went through the door I was shown and saw a sink and two completely enclosed stalls (which is typical here). There was a third door with a sign on it.

However, it wasn't until I came out of one of the enclosed stalls that I realized the sign on the third door said "nashim" (women). When I left through the main door, I looked back at it and saw the sign that said "gever/nashim" (men/women). Obviously, the two stalls were for the men. Weird setup. Thank G-d, no one came in while I was in the stall.

I wondered why the seat was up...

Tomorrow: the bus!

*NIS = Israeli New Shekel (₪), the currency here. Yes, it should be INS. But that has bad connotations to American immigrants.

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