Contemplations of a traveler

There have been quite a lot of days when I’ve been¬†questioning the purpose of this trip. It all started last October when I decided it was time to take a break and do something exciting. My decision to come was also heavily influenced by a book, which was the first good glimpse¬†to what Israel and its people are like. In December I was getting prepared with a hint of fear of what it would really be like to live so far from everything familiar, and come January I was already here filled with naive excitement of how the trip would change everything into wonderful.

By February I had already gotten used to work, the coldness and new environment. I was getting comfortable with my new roommates, and we were experiencing some precious bonding time. I was enthusiastic at work knowing that finally-FINALLY!-I was doing something with a meaning to it. I also got a good start to training my ear with the new language, and somehow I felt very comfortable trying to understand it. It all came naturally.

But March came too quickly and with it came anxiety, stress, fear and the feeling of unbearable loneliness. The country showed its hostile side to it: the rudeness of the people, the terror of missiles, the boredom of the city and the endless routine at work. Desperate times require desperate measures: I took to baking numerous cakes and smoking. It was a Black March.

Fortunately, in April and May things warmed up again, and the biggest relief was that I had made the decision not to stay the whole 10 months I had originally planned. I also teamed up¬†with my roommates, and we took to being collectively pissed off¬†at annoying people. Trust me, these are gentle words I’m using here. I¬†also took some fun trips to Jerusalem,¬†Mitzpe Ramon¬†and¬†a Bedouin settlement in the desert, which¬†gave me an interest to hiking and adventure. April also brought tank top weather and suntan lines into the picture. Then on May 2nd I walked a dog home from the local pound, and our apartment turned into a puppy zone. Our home became complete with the hound.

So far June has been a quiet month. A month of preparation for take-off. Saying goodbyes to people I care, places that have made me feel like home and a culture that gives me mixed feelings no matter how familiar it has become. Mostly I will miss my roommate who became closer to me than a big sister, my other roommate who became closer to me than a little sister, those few friends that truly care and a mix breed 19kg 8 month old puppy, who will howl when he is left behind to wait his turn to fly out of this country.

No matter how I describe this whole Israel experience to myself, I still sit here in wonder of what was the purpose, the FUNCTION, of these 6 months that I took out of my life to come and live in the Middle East. Did I change? Am I more mature now? Am I happy to go back to the original? Do I WANT to go back?

Maybe some day I’ll be able to give an answer to these questions.

Awkward&Awesome: 13 short days

The end of my trip is almost here!! Dum-da-daa…. It’s fun to¬†explore the world, but I’m also very grateful that this trip is coming to an end now. Unfortunately, it also¬†means that I¬†have to make decisions about my future now. That has never¬†really been by strength in life.¬†I guess this is the time that shows how much guts I have to keep life in order. I take it as a challenge!!

And now to Thursday’s event!

Awkward:

  • Budgeting. I. Hate. It. Especially since there hasn’t been a pay check in 6 months. Especially since I got a dog and he’s eating my money (fortunately not literally, which could be very possible also).
  • The amount of laundry I have these days. I blame the heat and all the sweating.
  • The vets in Israel messing all of Oscar’s information up. How hard can it be??
  • Going to Tel Aviv for the volunteer appreciation day and getting totally lost at a park. Walking for 1¬Ĺ hours in unbearable heat was not ffffffun.
  • Dehydration headaches. I need more aqua!
  • The amount of sleep I’m clocking again. zzzzzZzzzzz—–>

Awesome:

  • New hair cut and having my nails done! I’m always ready for a little touch-up.
  • Going to an Indian restaurant with my roomie. Yums!
  • Finding a cute red skirt. It wasn’t on sale and¬†who cares!!
  • 13 days. nuff said.
  • Having the week off! Totally needed it, even if going to back to work again will be a pain.
  • Pizza and ice cream for dinner yesterday!
  • Wearing flip flops every day since April. This I will miss about Israel!

Well, I guess it’s hasta luego, my amigos! Enjoy the weekend!ūüôā

Vacay and other fun things!

It’s been a long time since I last posted. I guess life just got in the way again. Isn’t that just nice sometimes??¬†

There are some fun things to be excited about right now and I thought I’d share them here!

  • Umm, a week of vacation!!!!ūüôā
  • New nail polish x3 and a cute new purse. (Is it just me or do I shop a lot?)
  • How long my hair is right now. Plus the darkish color goes well with the slight tan I’ve gotten. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull it off when I lose that nice tan, but we’ll see.
  • 17 days until USAAAAAAAA!!
  • Going to Tel Aviv tomorrow with my roommates. Looking forward to a fun day!!
  • Ice-cold Kosher malt. A-mazing. Even if it is non-alcoholic…
  • Meeting some Christians when walking my dawg (somehow this sentence makes it¬†sound like¬†I bumped into aliens or something). Trust me, it’s worth writing about. There might be a lot of Christians in Israel, but they haven’t exactly found Beersheva. Anyway, I was invited to their service, and I think I’ll check it out on Tuesday when they meet again. I’m a bit skeptical,¬†though, because¬†past experience has taught me that these kind of¬†meetings can be either really awkward or actually quite nice. I’ll let you know¬†which one it is.¬†I guess I just want to meet new people this time.
  • A new career option? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxjPFFYqWEA¬†It’s just a thought (a very tempting one!).

Life is good.

It’s not at¬†all that bad here, even on the hardest of days. I just tend to channel¬†some frustration into this blog sometimes. During these 5 months now, I’ve had plenty of awesome things happening to me, starting with the fact that during this time I haven’t been in Finland at all. That’s already in itself quite a cool accomplishment for this year.

And what else am I thankful for recently?

  • A Skype voucher my roommate gave me. I used it to call my dad’s mobile phone in Finland for free and surprised him for his birthday today. And my roommate didn’t receive the voucher until this morning. I’m telling you, accidents don’t happen.
  • Today I shipped off the last package by post. I sent one smaller box to Finland last week containing books and shoes I won’t be needing for my trip to the US. Yesterday I sent a TV to the USūüėČ , and today I finally sent a bigger box to Finland which has unimportant items for the summer, like woollen socks and a thick coat. Feeling productive!
  • Having NO morning shifts this week! SLEEP, i love u.
  • Quality roommate time, which includes ordering in chicken mushroom spaghetti, trying on bridesmaid’s dresses and shoes, lots of giggling and ridiculously funny¬†humor.
  • Having my vacation approved by higher powers (ie the boss of this place). Don’t tell me it’s not cool that I’m on vacation from 11th to 17th of June and that I’m leaving on the 28th. It’ll be a rough last two weeks, I know (sf).

Life’s good folks!

This isn’t summer…it’s just suffering.

The heat is unbearable these days. It’s been a long time since it was enjoyable, and we do everything we can to avoid spending time outside during daytime. I can’t even enjoy my time with the puppy, since he suffers even more from the hot air and our walks tend to be rather short due to this.

I WANT RAIN AND COOLNESS!!!!!!

What makes matters worse is that we have no a/c in our room, so the suffering continues throughout¬†the night. And considering that there’s THREE girls breathing in that small room, a room where we can’t even open the window for the night because we’ll have pigeons flying in. Sigh. No, actually what’s even worse is knowing that the heat is only getting worse day by day because this is only the start of summer. Thank God I’m leaving in 29 days for some cooler horizons.

Fortunately I have a week of vacation before I leave, so I can cool my nerves pack and stress about the dog. I have a feeling that this last month will be plain survival over here…

A short round-up

I survived another hard week again, and thus I had little time for fun things¬†like blogging or ice cream. No wait, I did have some ice cream!ūüôā I can’t believe it was only my second ice cream in Israel. Usually the combination of heat and¬†summer tempts me to eat more than I have.

But anyway, I thought I’d do a short list of what’s been going on here lately. That said, have a nice weekend!

  • Quitting coffee, added sugar and bread all at once made my body go crazy. Of course the pizza and ice cream I ate this week are totally acceptable slips. Plus, I bought some decaff, but it still feels like cheating. Weird.
  • Having secretive ideas about my future. I always do!!ūüėČ
  • Rounding up all my useless stuff and sending one box back to Finland already. I don’t think I’ll need my winter coat in Washington this summer, although if the weather is as cold as it was last summer…. Well I guess I’ll just have to buy new pretty coats from¬†the US then!ūüôā
  • I took the dog to the vet again to have his surgery and my appointment was not valid. AGAIN. It was rather frustrating. I hope next Monday when I have the THIRD appointment to that place, they’ll have their act together. Sigh.
  • Missing all the greenness of summer and waterfronts. The desert is only fascinating to a certain extent. And I’m starting to get tired of the constant heat.
  • Realizing I still have 8 vacation days unused!¬†Vacation here I come!ūüôā
  • Soon: USA!!!

 

Awkward & Awesome: Randomness

It’s hot again. I mean, it’s hot every day around here, but today is EXCEPTIONALLY hot. Sizzling. I’m sitting in the livingroom while writing this and enjoying the air conditioning and a cup of chai tea. I know, weird to drink a hot beverage (tea of all of them!) on¬†a hot day, but scroll down to see why tea…

Awkward:

  • I was supposed to take the dog to the vet at the pound to be neutered on Wednesday, but since his allergic reaction episode on Tuesday I decided to give him another week. So I called the vet to cancel the appointment and the guy who answered said: “Well I don’t have an appointment for today at 11am, so whatever.” I’m glad I didn’t go over.
  • Being so exhausted from the heat. We all are.
  • I’ve caught and released 5 mice so far. Is that normal? Well¬†it’s gross at least.
  • I quit drinking coffee for the reminder 42 days of my stay here in Israel. I’m trying to compensate the lack of caffeine with tea and occasionally soda. Hey, I’ve stayed strong for 8 hours already! Wohoo!
  • I’ve become Israeli.¬†But I haven’t decided yet if I like the lipstick so bright red.¬†Thoughts?

Awesome:

  • I bought two pairs of¬†new shoes today! I also had an amazing turkey wrap for lunch. Yums!
  • Being treated¬†by a movie night by two Israeli friends yesterday. We saw¬†The Avengers,¬†which wasn’t actually all that bad.
  • Two free days in a row. Feels like vacation!
  • Sleep. Much needed!
  • Amazing red sunsets and sunrises. Only in the desert! (Okay, in a couple other place too!)
  • This being the beginning of the¬†end of my trip. Sad to go but happy to leave! If that makes sense.

Wow, I think I’ll go crash now. I need another napūüėČ Happy weekend to all!

 

looking forward to easier times

It’s been a rough couple days. I’ve been working a lot of morning shifts, and honestly speaking, they’ve taken the energy out of me. But it’s not only the lack of sleep that’s exhausting me here. Sleeping less means that my body is tired, but working more means that I’m mentally pooped. I haven’t written too much about work here on my blog, mainly because professional confidentiality applies to volunteers as well.¬†If¬†you only¬†knew some of the stories I have to tell!

Sorry, didn’t mean to tease.

Yesterday morning I went to the dentist with six friends and five other guides. Mind you, even I don’t really enjoy going to the dentist, so I can somehow relate to the friends’ unwillingness. The trip there and back took¬†a lot of¬†effort from all the guides, and by the time we got back at noon, even our muscles were sore. In the evening I went back to work, and the only thing that went through my mind was: “Here again.”

I think the hardest part of this work is the strain that autism puts on all of the guides’ patience. The house I work in is low function and high autism, meaning that we concentrate more on the disability than we actually get to enjoy the work with friends. In Tatiana’s house they actually get to do therapeutic chores and spend time with the friends. In my house we mainly clean and keep order.

It’s hard to try to keep your love for these people even in those moments when you have to pin someone down and hope not to be punched or slapped or kicked or screamed at. There are times when¬†the guides¬†(including me) go home¬†with headaches, scratches, bruises and tears. ¬†And the most painful of them all¬†are the tears.

I have 44 days left here in Israel and I want to remember the friends as they are during the good days. Their sometimes so comical personalities and the hilarious moments I’ve had with them and the guides. I want to remember what a rewarding trip this was for me, instead of this being merely a six month mental strain. I will definitely look back on this trip as a groundbreaking period in my life, and I hope time will gold all memories, even the hard ones.

 

Awkward & Awesome: Dog Edition

I swear this has turned into a dog blog now with Oscar in my life. I promise I have a life! I think. Oh well.

It’s been a while since I took part in this Thursday activity, so I’ll jump back on the wagon again! Enjoy!

Awkward:

  • Baking in the afternoon heat. Takes some of the fun out of it.
  • Oscar chasing all the street cats he sees. And since there are about 20 cats just after the first corner, you can imagine what walking him for two blocks is like!
  • The EU regulations for dogs. Not awkward, but rather ridiculous!
  • Taking a two hour nap after coming back from the morning shift today. I’m all mixed up now.
  • Some Jewish holiday that involves a lot of bonfires. The smoke from THREE bonfires just outside our building came into our apartment and gave me a headache.
  • The amount of milk, bread and eggs three girls can put away. We need a cow and some hens as our pets.

Awesome:

  • Slowly figuring out what Oscar needs to get out of Israel. In your face, EU!
  • Brownies. Um, obviously.
  • 4 new shirts for 150 shekels. Winning!
  • Skyping with people, and hearing from friends! Miss you all!
  • Fun moments at work. Trust me, they make a HUGE difference when it comes to the place I work in.
  • 50 days until hello Seattle!!!
  • NAPS. I heart sleeping.
  • Ice cold Coke when it’s +35 degrees outside.
  • Tan lines. Hey, you’d appreciate them too if you were a palefaced Finn!

Have a sunny, cheerful week!