Thursday, 24 July 2014

'Hakol yihyeh beseder' - 'Everything will be alright'...

Into week two now, and the dust is beginning to settle.

This week there have been a few developments. Impatience abounds due to the vast amounts of free time (to be discussed later), and I want to start building up my career here.

Speaking of which, I've started a blog at the Times of Israel (link here) dealing with the issues arising from being an olah chadasha (female - new immigrant) in the current situation. Feel free to peruse.

I have been focusing my efforts on getting the career up and running. Whilst I was previously a teacher in Blighty, I've been longing to return to the good old world of journalism. One of  the main reasons behind my aliya was in order to achieve this - I've always seen Israel, with it's transformed desert and hub of high-tech and start ups - as a land of opportunity.

It seems much easier to break/return to the media here. In Jerusalem all of the media outlets, both local and international, are in one building, coincidentally next to my bank. This building seems to be the very key to my success. Having been there before, and wanting to access that within it again, I formulated a plan .

So, in I strolled, nonchalantly and like I belonged there and charmed the guard, just like in a video game. Upon seeing me, he realised that I didn't actually belong there, demanding to know, 'Where's your press pass?'. Using what G-d and my mum gave me, I offered him a cheeky grin and retorted, 'Where's YOUR press pass?' namedropped a bit, and up I went.

Since I had already achieved my objectives thus far by entering the building, why not try to push my luck further? I decided to go down every single floor of the 8 available, introducing myself to the various news agencies within and offer my services as a freelancer.

It would seem that a cut-glass English accent goes a long way here. I met with the news editor from CNN (who first asked if I was a model. No, seriously.I tried to stop blushing, wiped the sweat off my face, looked him in the eye and said, 'ex'). He asked if I could go to Gaza and report, like RIGHT NOW. I politely declined. I then barged into the Associated Press office, and others. I was both shocked and quite pleased at the way that head honchos (the chief of the bureau at AP and I chatted like old friends) were really welcoming (you know, rather than calling security and treating me like an escaped lunatic) and even took me seriously. That's great, but I honestly can't imagine attempting the same approach with, say, the Times in London, who's first resort I'm sure would be calling security and treating me like an escaped lunatic.

In other news, I have moved up a class - to Alef-4. Hebrew is a wonderful, rich language, albeit with confusing tenses and specific male/female forms. It's funny, but just as I feel that I'm getting the hang of aspects of the language, along come what I've termed 'transsexual plurals' - female words which suddenly become male in the plural, and vice versa - which confound and befuddle. Either way, I respect their right to exist, even if I will never fully understand or appreciate their transformation.

Talking of which, my attempts to speak in Hebrew, beyond the basic, at least, usually culminates in something confusing or ridiculous through mispronunciation. For example, attempting to express my confusion and delight with the language by declaring, 'what a language!' - 'Eze safar!', I was pronouncing the word with an 'f', instead of it's rightful 'p' - 'eze saPar' - and was therefore actually saying, 'what a haircut!' No wonder people looked a bit confused, what with the definitive lack of strange haircuts anywhere in the proximity.

The main goal now is to establish a routine and keep myself busy. I'm finding it a bit difficult to deal with having not had any free time for the past...I can't remember. Before teaching (where 'free time' seemed to be a mythical concept, something we heard about from other people but hadn't experienced ourselves), I was living in Israel (I recall having some free moments on the kibbutz... for a short period of time. I think), and before that was university, which is usually where you have the most free time of all. However, when not in class, I was running a university society and that took up insane amounts of time. I was always schmoozing, planning, attending or communicating in some way. It's a wonder I even managed to do a degree!

Anyway. A routine of sorts has formed - I attend ulpan (language immersion) at 8.30 am, have a break ('hafsaka') at 10.30-11am, and return to class until 12.45, which is lunchtime. After eating, the boredom zone awaits - the afternoon.

There is sweet FA to do if you're staying in the ulpan. I mean, you could always do your 'shaarei bait' - homework - but to be honest, I've had a lot of stuff to sort out - I have just moved country, after all - and I want to use that time to explore and reconnect with Jerusalem.

Then there are the evenings.  Some people do their homework in the evenings, some go out. Central Jerusalem is only a bus ride away. I have been good and completed my homework every evening except for last night and tonight. I must confess that, even when I was a teacher, I hated homework. It's a routine exercise in pointlessness - backed up by research, noch - and I used to hate having to set it, answer people's questions about it (both kids and parents), and then mark it and give feedback on it. Then there were the colleagues I had to deal with, regarding homework - had they set enough homework? Could I show them my homework tasks so they could copy it? Was this sort of thing the right idea? It went on and on, and it was almost as bad as being a pupil myself.

Because, homework is a pain in the arse for everybody involved - anyone who cares enough about it to that extent is clearly misplacing attention. I did eventually, after 3/4 years of teaching, work out a way to set homework for each class I taught twice a week and still mark each and every kid's homework in the lesson, but that is slightly off topic. The point is, however much I don't want to do it, I'm self motivated enough to know it's beneficial to me and make sure it's done. But, when the weather is so warm and I'm bored anyway, I resent having to do it. It's ironic that this is what it's taken for me to empathise with my former pupils.

 But onwards and upwards. I will be off to Tel Aviv next week for a meeting and to see friends. Bearing in mind the way my last trip ended, I will be wearing my running shoes, just in case.

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