Climbing Uphill

Now that the second official week of school is over I’ve finally been able to get a grip. Going to a small Arts school within a giant Floridian campus is nothing like going to a large Art School that sits on its own in the middle of a Jerusalem Winter. The hallways are different and not loitered with familiar faces, the class schedules are in Hebrew (so it’s good that I can read it a bit), and the ideology behind dance training is not a kind I’ve been exposed to.

Week 1: Overwhelming

Because I had been living in Jerusalem for about a month at this point I didn’t expect starting classes would be much of a culture shock. Up to that point I’d begun growing accustomed to Jerusalem culture: spotting Orthodox Jews in black suits was norm; riding the lite-rail/buses was a daily practice. It hadn’t even occurred to me that school has its own culture.  Just like UF’s School of Theatre & Dance this one has its hang-out spots, friend groups, and even its prejudices. Students are students, anywhere. Because it’s a shared school of Music & Dance at any given moment you can hear 5 pianos and 2 sopranos belting from the heart. So how do you jump in to that? Regimented dance training does not a social experience make.

I’ve been told while in Jerusalem that Israeli people can be like cacti, with a touch and prickly exterior but a warm kind personality once you get to know them. I have seen that in large part to be the case which leads me to….

Week 2:  Getting Better!

After week 1, I decided to make some changes. The first week here is known as “shopping week” in which essentially you take as many classes as you want in order to decide if you want to commit to them or not. By week 2… or even 3 you get to settle down.

My first change involved class schedules, I changed 50% of my original choices, something I’ve never done in the past and was 100% happier for it.

My second change involved smiling more. When I didn’t know which way was up or down I was focused on getting from point A to B. When I decided the space between A and B mattered too I didn’t care as much about up or down. What I mean to say is: when I stopped stressing about having to know what I was doing I found that a lot of people were willing to help me figure it out. And in this way the faces that looked at me suspiciously/ curiously Day 1, grew warmer.

I realize being here how spoiled UF had made me. There wasn’t a pass through the hallway where there wasn’t a friend to hug or at least some sunshine to soak if I stepped outside. I don’t have that here, not yet. But there are dancers I can smile at, who smile back and give me hope about what school-culture here can be.  And there are also really cool beanbags to nap on…

One last thing:

My walks to school are uphill climbs, literally. I am trekking and working out calf muscles daily just to get to class… I’m just gonna say…there’s a metaphor in there somewhere!

All my best,

Debbie

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