Today began in much the same way as the previous two here in Israel, by me waking up far too early. Fortunately I’ve made my way from waking at 4:00 am to 5. With any luck, tomorrow I might even make it until 5:30.
What this did mean was that I had plenty of time to again go for another run around French Hill as the sun was coming up. I also was able to catch up on emails, make breakfast, pack a lunch, and ensure that I had everything I needed for my first day of ulpan.
On my way to class, I stopped by the Cafe Aroma to pick up my first cup of Turkish coffee since arriving in Israel. Good thing too, because it wired me for much of the rest of the day. Ulpan itself was challenging but not overwhelming, at least for the first few hours. The level, “Gimmel”, sits at the midrange of classes offered here tailored for those far from fluent in the language but with a reasonable amount of experience. Individual competency varies from student to student with many in the class much more knowledgeable than myself. That said, I felt prepared.
The teacher maintains a “Hebrew only” policy in class forcing us all to think quickly and creatively about any questions we might have for which we would otherwise default to our native tongues. Although I did not understand absolutely everything that was said, I was able to pick up enough that I was able to follow the lesson plan and even speak up from time to time to participate. By the time the fifth and final hour of class arrived, my brain felt exceptionally full. To preserve the momentum, I returned to Kfar Hastudentim to do the assigned homework and met later with a friend in my class to again go over the material. If today is any indication of how the rest of class will flow, I anticipate it continuing to be a challenge, but I hope to emerge much more comfortably conversant and literate.
In an effort to stick to my studies and get the most out of my time in ulpan, I have been resisting the urge to actively reach out to my academic and political contacts here in Israel. That said, I have been very happy to have already begun receiving emails from those who have noticed that I have returned to Israel and look forward to pushing forward on my research come late July. In the meantime, my plan is Hebrew, Hebrew, Hebrew. I feel that I am off to a strong start. I hope I can maintain my optimism… It is only “day one” after all.
***Apologies for the delay in posting this update. The person who has been inadvertently providing me with free wireless internet has realized that everyone in Kfar Hastudentim has caught on, and has cut us all off. Now that my wired Bezeq service is connected, business will continue as usual.***