Welcome! I''m Rachel. I made Aliyah two years ago from New York. I am now studying for my Bachelor''s degree at Bar-Ilan University and am ridiculously happy living here in Israel despite all of my bizarre and confusing encounters with the native culture.
So what’s uni in a foreign language like? It’s like colored contact paper. It’s transparent, so you can still understand what you’re dealing with. At the same time it’s an annoyingly neon green color so you’ll always be hyper aware of it and never totally completely comfortable with staring through it.Also, the words are all English (or “international,” as they like to say) with a Hebrew sounding suffix attached to it. So canonization becomes canonizatzia. Emancipation is emancipatzia. Reaction is reactzia. And this is despite the fact that there actually is a Hebrew word for reaction.
In class this is fine because the Hebrew version still sounds like the English so you understand immediately what the professor is trying to say. Reading these words is a different story. I regularly have to read twenty page academic articles in Hebrew (or, in English but with the appropriate suffixes). You have to spend a minute per word, trying to sound out which English term has been processed in order to bring you this ridiculous combination of alephs, vavs, yuds and hays (Hebrew letters). Plus, there''s no official way to spell these words. So every time you read them, they are written differently. And so, I now present you with the most intimidating Heblish words:
Another interesting phenomenon is the Israeli fascination with the idea of someone leaving New York to live in Ramat Gan. And by that I mean my fellow students often think I''m insane. Unless they are religious dati-leumiers. Then they think you’re part of the redemption process and look at you like the messiah. Also, the professors like to always quote statistics of how things are in America (usually in comparison to Israel). So they’ll say something like “the average American owns a goat.” And then Israelis will turn to me to verify if this is in fact true. It’s hard to explain that while I didn’t personally own a goat, New Yorkers aren’t exactly representative of the average American.
We just finished finals time here. While cramming an entire semester''s worth of material into a twelve hour study session is tough enough without the language barrier, the real difficulty comes with the actual test booklet. A couple of my finals were multiple choice, or as they call it here, “American tests.” I’m used to having my tests printed on clean white paper, and then stapled together neatly in the top corner (and of course, in some logical sequence).
Welcome to the Bar-Ilan Testing System: the questions were printed on paper with annoying green lines running across it. And it wasn’t stapled. It was basically folded like a very intense newspaper. To get the full effect of what I am trying to describe, I ask that you find a sheet of paper (one with green lines would be best) and do the following:
1. Fold the width of the paper in half.
2. Do that again.
3. Now fold its length in half.
5. Fold along the diagonal.
6. Roll it.
7. Pat it.
8. Mark it with a B.
Voila! You have my test! Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. But honestly, the first time I took one of these "American tests" I finished one page and then turned it over in order to find the next ten questions, but it wasn''t the correct page. So then I opened some more foldings. Nope, still not it. More foldings, still no luck.
Eventually I ended up opening the whole thing up and it just staring at this ridiculous contraption, wondering why anyone would think this is a good system. Also, the edges of each paper were perforated. Why this was necessary I don''t know, but what it meant was that as I was unfolding, papers would get partly detached and so nothing would open smoothly and by the time I had the whole test opened up there were papers raining down on me and everyone in the room must have thought what a ridiculous person, she can’t even figure out how to take an American test in peace. In my defense I‘d like to say that I am familiar with the country America and I can honestly say that this test resembled nothing about it.
By the way, this was not a bad experience. May my problems in this country continue to come from newspaper-style tests and not Misrad HaPnim, Bituach Leumi or any other office with a wait time of at least forty minutes, amen.