You’re coming to Israel! You’re excited, intrigued, and getting ready for quite an adventure.
You’ll be teaching in Israel but actually, you’ll be doing so much more. Ideally, you’ll use your time to explore, make friends, learn, and eat. You’ll probably eat a lot of yummy Mediterranean dishes!
It’s not hard to prepare for such a journey, there is so much information around and also, after all, Israel is a modern country with everything – great infrastructure, amazing culture, fun nightlife, and the languages spoken and understood are ample.
Still, there are a few small, or big, tips you should know before beginning your journey – these will help you steer your plans and day to day life as you immerse yourself in it.
Israel is small
Israel is about the size of New Jersey. This means it is easy to explore and get around. It is not difficult to drive from the coast to the Judean Mountains or hike up Mt Tabor and look out at the Sea of Galilee in one day. The roads, while sometimes heavy with traffic around Tel Aviv, are modern and safe and public transportation (trains, buses, cabs) reaches all corners of the country. You can even take a short flight, less than an hour, and dive in the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea in Eilat.
There are quite a few Jewish holidays. Some are a complete day of rest, where the country shuts down completely – stores are closed, businesses don’t open, there is no public transportation, and kids do not go to school. During others, businesses may be closed but everything else continues as usual. You should be aware of these in advance and plan your time accordingly. Also, keep in mind – Jewish holidays start from sundown and end a bit after sundown the following day.
One big Balagan
‘Balagan’ is a great word in Hebrew. Literally, it means ‘mess’. Your room is one big ‘balagan’ and also, Israel is one big ‘balagan’ – from the crowds at the markets to a busy day at the beach, people are running around, they don’t necessarily keep their own ‘personal space’, and everyone is loud. That’s just the way it is.
The word ‘balagan’ is used in another context as well –
You should come to the party, it will be ‘balagan’ – this means, it will be really fun and it’s the place to be.
Speak with your hands
It may be more polite just to use words and verbal communication to get your point across but in Israel get ready – hands are flailing as people give directions, describe something, or get excited. The hands will reveal emotion – excitement, annoyance, or love. Don’t let that deter you – Israelis are not shy and wear their hearts on their sleeves.
It really has it all
This may sound cliche, but it is true. The country has it all – mountains, beautiful coastline, green valleys, and bustling cities. Activities are abundant – bike riding on designated paths, rock climbing, triathlons, skiing, scuba diving, jogging, kite sailing, sky diving and so much more. The weather – heat waves, rainy days, some snow, and the most beautiful blue skies. And finally, the people – different religions, different political ideologies of all sizes and features.
So you are coming to Israel, the right place at the right time. Enjoy every minute, teach, live, learn and be part of the culture.