Friday, 30 May 2014

Parcels and Primark

If there are two pieces of advice I could give to olim (plural noun: new immigrants) to be, they would be eBay and Primark.

Over the past few months, I have been steadily shedding every little (and big) thing which could be of use to someone else by either donating or selling it. Items which may be worth a bit more (such as my cross trainer, or an expensive, rarely worn dress) go on eBay; most other stuff goes to the charity shops.

Consequently, every weekday (for some reason, usually a Thursday) I end up with a pile like this:

Pictured: Mr Wallace of the Post Office. Note all of the plastic and bubble wrap just itching to be used.

...which I then take to the Post Office for sending. As a result, over the past 3 or so months I have struck up a friendship of sorts with the lady who works there.  

Apparently I missed a week last week and the lady had assumed I'd taken a holiday. She is very nice, and always asks how my 'business' is going. Every Thursday. 

The thing is, life as an oleh (noun: newbie) will be hard enough financially and linguistically - try to save every penny you have by saving and selling; try to cushion the language blow by, perhaps, LEARNING SOME DAMN HEBREW. 

You know who you are. Did you really think you could get around the country by smiling sweetly and alternately answering 'ken' (yes) and 'lo' (no), for an extended period of time? 

Actually, while we're on the subject: inspired by the episode of 'Father Ted' (link here) where Ted trains Father Jack to respond, with intent and varied diction, either 'yes' or 'That would be an ecumenical matter', a friend once succeeded in speaking 'fluent' Hebrew by using open body language, direct eye contact and allowing the person in conversation to discuss their thoughts and opinions at length. Once the converser came up for breath, my friend would say, 'ken, aval...' ('yes, but...'), prompting the converser to go off again on their (in-depth) train of thought. Apparently it worked a treat for an extended period of time.

Only in Israel..! 

The second piece of advice would be to 'stock up' at Primark. Note, not 'shop'. 

The Primark experience (despite what seems to have been a massive redesign) is still, at best, a smash and grab mission, something along the lines of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, where you have a mission and must defeat the obstacles in your way to achieve it. Unfortunately, most people in there have the same objectives: Cotton t-shirts for 3 quid? Flip flops for 1? 'I'LL TAKE SEVEN!'.

I went asmashing and agrabbing in order to 'stock up' for Ulpan - two sets of bed sheets, t-shirts, some skirts and other useful items. For 50 quid, I got most of the items I needed (apart from suncream, but then again they also sell that), as demonstrated below, after Corny has made what is either an artistic expression of his emotions OR a comfy snuggle bed all over my new stuff: 

'These are MY things now.'

I still haven't heard a lot about what I need for Ulpan - or received a formal welcome from them. Hopefully it is on the way, otherwise, upon arrival in Israel, I will be left to my own devices (and that's usually the point where I decide I'm off to seminary/a kibbutz/Tel Aviv). Not informing your attendees of the regulations and items needed before a 5 month stay until the very last minute is classic Israeli-style, so I'm not too worried.

Over the weekend, the 'heavy packing' will commence: I will first tackle this beast:

...if there are any suggestions for the best method to pack and store books (I don't want them ruined when I return to reclaim them), then please let me know!

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