Hello, my name is Erin, and my semester in Haifa, Israel, starts tomorrow. Saturday afternoon I flew out of Miami into the Frankfurt, Germany, international airport. From there, I picked up a connecting flight into Tel Aviv, Israel. After 16 long hours of flying, airports, and very little sleep, i disembarked from the plane at about 10 a.m. EST.
It was 4 p.m. and the beginning of rush hour. Dazed, I climbed in a waiting sherut, or shared taxi cab, to begin my trip to Haifa. The driver made everyone wait an extra hour to see if he could collect more riders before leaving. Finally, we started for Haifa. The trip, normally an hour, took two and a half, due to traffic and extra stops. The driver was on the phone almost the entire time, yelling in Hebrew and driving like a mad man. As he swerved around cars and sped up crowded streets, i frantically felt for my seat belt to strap myself in. Thankfully, two other passengers were headed to the university so we could at least discuss the school. After arriving, I checked into my room, unpacked and finally fell asleep.
Today began orientation. After a school tour, we had meetings and library guides. Then, a group of students went on a tour of the city. We went to the market, or shook, as one of the merchants called it. There, we bought fruit, pots and pans, vegetables and a number of other things. The market is the place to get the cheapest fruit in Haifa- I bought a basket of peaches for 4 NIS, or about $1. The merchants were also very friendly, teaching us the Hebrew words for the food and even giving us some fruit for free.
After the market, the group went to a part of the city that is integrated- Arabs, Jews and Christians co-exist. We ate falafel from the two best falafel places in Israel and toured the scenic area. Finally, we finished the tour with a view of the Baha’i World Center. This site is a monument to the Baha’i faith and contains gardens, as well as an impressive set of stairs up to the domed building. Unfortunately, it is only open to the public at certain times and so we didn’t have a chance to go today.
Classes start tomorrow, so hopefully i remember enough from the campus tour and walking around to find them. In Israel, Friday night and Saturday are considered the Sabbath, so everything is shut down then. This means that the International School doesn’t have class on Fridays. As it’s still pretty warm here, a couple of the students may plan a trip to the nearby beach.