Friday, July 31, 2015

My Year in Review

I've been home in LA for a little over a month now and I'm about to upload my last set of pictures from my year in Petach Tikva - really timely of me, I know - so I thought I'd write a little wrap up post. 

This year I...

1. Broke my 7-year Long Pescatarian Streak
and ate a sh*tload of hot dogs

I'm not necessarily super proud of this, but it's kind of funny if you have a good sense of humor.

2. Became a Poster Child
so...that was cool

There's always going to be someone younger and hotter than you, but until that person participates in ITF Petach Tikva or Rishon, I will remain the reigning poster child. 

3. Survived Living with 6 Other People
and sharing a bathroom with 2 guys and one other girl

Missing Gabriella and Josh the Grown Up
Not an easy feat for any of us but there was never a dull moment in our apartment, that's for sure. 

4. Saw the Light
and became religious

Sorry, I think I'm really funny.

5.Traveled Abroad
to England, Germany, Turkey, and Greece

And I'm hoping to add a few more to the list this upcoming year.

6. Met Some of the Most Wonderful Humans
ranging from my future roommates, to my host teacher and co-fellow, to my students and more...

To say I've been #blessed would be an understatement

7. Had the Cutest Students Ever
and possibly made a difference
Email from one of my amazing special education students
I know I mentioned them in number 6 but when they're this precious you have to give them their own shoutout.

8. Learned a lot About Myself 
and made a pretty drastic life decision accordingly 
City Year and ITF Together as One 
I still can't really believe I've turned down grad school for the time being, but as the wise scholar Selena Gomez said, "The heart wants what it wants." 

So that's it!! I haven't decided yet if I will keep a blog this upcoming year and document my life in Tel Aviv or not, but thank you all for following my adventures this past year. It has been a crazy ride and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for me.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Decision

Note: This was written while I was in Greece (about a month ago) but I waited to publish it until I was sure of my decision. 

First off, I want to acknowledge that I'm not Lebron James and I don't think any decision I make is worthy of a 75-minute long TV special. I do believe, though, that I owe it to my loved ones who thought I'd soon be living in the same state as them, my loved ones who thought I'd soon be living in the same country as them, to explain my change of heart for the upcoming academic year.

In the words of King James (really not meant to spark any drama, actually not a Bron Bron fan...he's just so. damn. relatable.) :

"In this fall...this is very tough... in this fall I'm going to take my talents to Tel Aviv"

K, I might've changed the last bit of the quote but I'm trying to make a point here, people.

This fall, I will not be attending Teachers College like I intended to. Just to address some immediate thoughts and concerns - No, I did not get my acceptance rescinded or anything. No, I am not making aliyah. Yes, everything is and will be okay :). 

Had you told me when I had just graduated college that I would eventually attend grad school for education and I'd get my degree from Columbia, I would have laughed in your face. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined applying and being admitted to an Ivy League. And never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined turning down the opportunity.

Here's the thing. I am still madly in love with education. My ultimate dream is still to become an LAUSD elementary school teacher. I just have also fallen madly in love with a country.

I am currently writing this post from paradise. ACTUAL PARADISE. I'm in Mykonos, Greece and I'm staying at a hotel where their breakfast buffet includes copious amounts of lox and cambert cheese. You read that correctly. ALL OF THE SMOKED SALMON AND BRIE THAT MY HEART DESIRES. I am here with my favorite person (my mom) and I know that in this moment I am the luckiest girl. 

There is part of me, though, that is itching to get back to Israel. 

I'm itching to get back to a place where women who are old enough to be my grandmother's grandma shove me to get to the freshest produce first. I'm itching to get back to a place where I gamble with my bus pass on a monthly basis hoping that maybe this time my card will already be activated. I'm itching to get back to a place where I constantly struggle with a language barrier. I'm itching to get back to a place where I'm literally making $250 a month and cannot afford to splurge on lox or brie cheese. And to me, that says a lot.

I'm not living a glamorous life in Israel. I'm not necessarily even living an easy life...certainly not as easy as life in Beverly Hills. I'm not tempted to stay because of the "Taglit/Birthright High." I've lived in Petach Tikva, the city many Israelis refer to as the "shithole of Israel" (it's not a shithole at all... They're just dramatic) because it's so boring and basically all old people and I'm STILL in love with the country. And I know I'm not ready to leave just yet.

One large driving force in my life has been the fact that I never ever want to look back and regret not taking an opportunity. I am confident that I won't look back and say "God, I really wish I hadn't taken that time to live in Israel and not go straight to graduate school." School will always be there. It may not be Columbia, but I have faith that what is meant to happen, will. 

For those wondering what exactly it is that I'll be doing in Israel - I plan to continue teaching English! This summer I will get my TESOL certification and use that to "make better happen" as we used to say in City Year. And I finally get the chance to live in Tel Aviv!!!

To family and friends in New York - I'm so sorry. I'm sorry to have disappointed anyone, that's the last thing I would want to do. I truly believe this is the right move for me. And to continue on with the Lebron reference, he followed his heart and won rings! And then came back home (and didn't win a ring BUTTTTT never mind that's not important).

I don't really know how to wrap this up, sooo here's a Shel Silverstein quote that accurately sums up how I feel. 'Cause elementary education.

Here's to another amazing year in this frustrating and crazy, yet beyond wonderful country! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Oops, I Did It Again

SOOO I have totally neglected my blog once again - my apologies. With less than 2 months left in Israel, I've really just been trying to carpe diem and enjoy every moment I have left here.

A lot has happened since my last post - I've fallen deeper in love (with this country), I've experienced loss (of my cellphone), I've turned a year older (24 is so the new 23), and I've played tour guide to my very own motley crue (my family). Holidays have passed -- Purim, Pesach, Yom Ha'Shoa, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha'aztmaut -- and different countries have been visited -- Germany and Turkey. That being said, I think the best way to go about this is really just have a photo based update. They say a photo is worth 1,000 words anyway - right?


Purim in School 
My Purim Octopus Costume
My Homemade Buzz Lightyear Wings 
My Octopus Partner in Crime
Some Sort of Cat

Who Wore it Best?!!!!!! (Hint: I did.)


The Gang's All Here!


A Whole Row to Myself?! OKAY.
Reunited w/ Starbucks and it Feels SO Good

My Street Name

Shabbat Views
Prepping for Istanbul


Celebrating Cinco de Mayo 

Birthday VibesSsSs *~*~
Thankful for These Two - Birthday Vibezz pt 2
As Seen During a Josh & Desiree Adventure
SURPRISE! We're Joining the IDF
I Know You Have Missed These Bad Boys

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Nothin' but a Good Time

I had a lot of other things that I wanted to post about before writing this, but I recently had quite possibly one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had while here and I felt compelled to share it.

SO let’s start off with Suday, February 15. Though schools are in session on Sundays, we do not teach on those days. Instead, Israel Experience/ITF provides us with seminars, or trainings, or if we’re really lucky, A DAY OFF!

On the 15th of Feb, we had an early start to the day (9 am but come on, that’s early for not having to be in school) and we had a session with a life-coach. This was supposed to run for 2 hours, but Josh and I had to slip out a few minutes early because at 11 our little scholars were set to perform at a choir recital! We really wanted to support them and attend, and I’m so happy that we did. We also had the opportunity to watch a few other choirs from around Petah Tikva. The students had no idea Josh and I were going to be there, especially since we don’t work with them on Sundays, so they were extremely surprised and happy to see us there. I remember how much it meant to me when my parents could come to any sort of recital or performance I had when I was younger, so I was really glad we could do that for them. It’s important to me that they know Josh and I are here because we care about them and believe about them.

After the recital, we went home to rest and get ready because in the evening we had the opportunity to attend OUR FIRST ISRAELI WEDDING! This is a big deal people. I was SO excited that one of the teachers at school extended an invite to her wedding. Meital, the bride, is a 3rd grade teacher who we rarely get to work with, so the invite was extra unexpected.

I knew Israeli weddings are a lot more casual than American ones (in that people some people even wear jeans to them), so I didn’t want to risk showing up as if it were prom because I’ve been told that I already scream “American.” After sending my madricha (counselor) a selfie of my outfit and getting it approved, I finished getting ready and just like that Josh and I were out.

It was pouring on the night of the wedding, but one of the teachers generously offered 4 of us a ride. The second we arrived at the location, I knew a great night was in store.

Amid the strobe lights and loud music, we noticed many little h'orderves stations. Josh and I agreed that it would be best to do a lap before committing to any particular food. It’s nice working with someone who is on the same page as you.
Couscous, Moroccan Stew, and Mini Shwarma 
They say that all that glitter’s ain’t gold – and while I whole heartedly agree with that, something that glittered AND was gold was a beautiful little hot dog station. I know, I know, it has been way too long since I have written about the best hot dogs in Israel. These were really tasty and a bit spicy but I refuse to add them to the rankings because these were catered hot dogs and you can’t really go out and get them in Israel. Wouldn’t want to tease you all.
Posing w/ the Hot Dog Stand
After trying a few different but equally delicious h'orderves, wedding planners cleared the aisle so the groom and stunning bride could take the stage. Something that I really appreciated is that, in true Israeli fashion, there were no frills. Only the bride and groom walked down the aisle and the ceremony began instantaneously. Not that I appreciate it enough to implement it at my own wedding but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The Beautiful Bride
Anyway, after a majority of the audience ignored the ceremony and chose to drink at the bar, the main hall opened up for dinner and dancing.

I wasn’t sure whether or not I had stepped back into a South Beach club or I was actually at a wedding. To sum up the experience in a few short words: excessive amounts of food, alcohol, and dancing. Two thumbs up.

Wedding or Bar-Mitzvah? 

The next day we had the pleasure of hosting a photographer at our school! Israel Experience, the particular organizer of Israel Teaching Fellows in Rishon and PTK, wanted to update photos on their website and such so they chose to follow Josh and I around for a day. They kind of picked a hectic day to come considering we had an earthquake drill (do they even have earthquakes in Israel? Still not sure), but it ended up turning out great! Through this I discovered that all of my students have releases signed so you better believe you will start seeing their precious little faces all over this blog. Check out some of my favorite photos from the photographer below.

Not From the Photographer but my Favorite of the Day 
I had one more event that I wanted to include in this post but I think I’ll just save it for the next one -- so you can expect it in about a month or two. KIDDING KIDDING.