We have been in Israel for just under 3 years now. I know, 3 years!!
And if you recall I was lucky enough to find a job within our 1st month here.
I have been happily employed in that job for just over 2 and a half years.
A few weeks ago, the #BestBossEver called me into her office and told me that they were looking to fill a position in another department and between her and that departments head, they had discussed it and wanted to know if I would like to take the position.
I didn’t even hesitate. I said yes.
Since then its been a bit of a whirlwind.
I’ve trained my replacement, trained and done a handover on my new position and started working my new position full time.
This has been a huge learning curve for me. It has been a very long time since I worked directly with clients and its taken some getting used to. But I feel like I’m getting the hang of things.
I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team of people and the fact that I’ve only moved to a new department and have know the team for years already has been a huge help.
I’m still nervous about all the things I don’t know but excited about everything I get to learn too. Like how to dial into a conference call (I know right? So adult!).
So, that’s where I am. It’s sure to be a wild ride but I’m looking forward to it.
When we were first making aliyah, people were slightly horrified that I didn’t have a job lined up for when we arrived.
They were even more horrified when I told them that I would be happy packing supermarket shelves if that was the only job I could get.
Then I was lucky enough to get a job within a month of arriving in Israel and I’ve just passed my 2 year work anniversary with the company.
I have also only just realise, like sitting at the bus stop this morning realised, that I have actually manifested my words from 2 years ago.
You see, I work for a company that price compares products across a variety of supermarkets. My job, specifically, is to make sure that all the data we receive from the various stores is correct in terms of price, quantity and of course, which shelves the products are on in the website.
It only took me 2 years to twig, but even though I may not be physically packing shelves at the local super, I am digitally packing shelves for a variety of supermarkets.
One of the things we decided when we made aliyah was that we were going to try live as Israelis as much as possible. In particular food. We decided to buy and eat Israeli products as much as we could.
One, buying imported things is expensive.
Two, support the local economy.
Three, the kids are growing up Israeli, they need to be comfortable eating foods we may not have eaten in South Africa.
All of this is not to say we don’t eat the same foods we used to eat in South Africa. I’m yet to see cottage pie on a restaurant menu but we often have it for dinner.
Israelis also tend to eat larger, heavier meals at lunch and smaller, lighter meals at dinner time. We still eat a proper cooked meal for dinner, mostly, this summer we have tried eating lighter, smaller meals at night.
All this brings me to things that we don’t/cant buy here (there is one big store that imports food stuffs from SA and Australia and the UK, but it is hellishly expensive). Things that I miss. Things that I have asked people to bring me and that I hoard and cherish like a certain gold ring.
Anita mentioned on Facebook, samp, which I haven’t had in years and now have a hectic craving for.
Along with samp, is a good stiff pap with tomato gravy. You can buy polenta here but its just not the same.
Boerewors. I’ve had locally prepared boeries but its just not the same. The meat here is very different to SA and you can tell.
Five Roses Tea. Israeli black tea is rather weak. At least that’s my opinion. I love a good cup of Five Roses.
Biltong. I actually have a biltong maker, I just need to figure out what’s the best cut of meat to use so I can make some.
Mrs Ball’s Chutney. I dont even really like chutney but I use to use it for cooking. Maybe I should try make my own…
All in all I think we manage just fine using local products and ingredients. And I don’t really miss anything to point of agonising over not having it. But I wouldn’t say no, if someone gave me any of the above.
Many years ago, when I first started working, I was given this little nugget of advice, and it’s stuck with me ever since.
Even when you are speaking on the phone, smile. Your smile will be conveyed through the phone and the person speaking to you will hear it and respond in kind.
I’ve noticed, the happier the people around me are, the happier I am.
What really drove (haha) this point home, is my regular morning bus driver.
Every single morning when I get on the bus, he greets each and every passenger with a boker tov (good morning) and nisiyah tov (good travels). On a Sunday morning he adds the greeting sh’vua tov (good week). On a Thursday he wishes everyone a Shabbat shalom before they get off the bus. At the beginning of the month he will add chodesh tov (good month) too. He is always smiling, laughing, having a conversation with the passengers seated near him. He never gets upset at the traffic/other drivers and he plays an awesomely eclectic collection of music.
I tend to start my day with a smile on my face and a spring in my step and it is directly attributed to the awesomeness that is my morning bus ride.
On the odd occasion I take an earlier bus, the driver is usually quiet, mostly polite and will only greet me if I greet him first. My mood for the morning is definitely not as bouncy as usual.
So, when those mornings happen, I try to be the one with the smile, the happy greetings, the effervescent bounce and hopefully my mood will rub off on everyone around me.
Got a phone call to say that the both the babysitter and Aaron had forgotten their keys so they were locked outside the apartment. I had about half an hour left of work before catching a 30 minute bus home. So I left a bit early hoping to catch the earlier bus. In the meantime it was super hot yesterday so they couldn’t really play in the park until I got home, so they camped out in the hallway/stairwell of our building where at least it was a bit cooler than outside.
Now, I hoofed it to the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare before the bus was due. Except it never came. Turns out the bus before that also never arrived. I know this because at least 3 other people had been waiting for it and now 2 buses never pitched up. So we waited, hoping the next bus would arrived.
Anyone want to guess what happened?
After 3 buses failing to arrive, we decided to call a taxi. 4 of us, all going to the same place, makes sense, no?
Except the 1st taxi didn’t want to drive all the way to Modiin. And then there were no other taxis.
Eventually a taxi came past and stopped. So 4 strangers took a taxi home together. I got home at 17:55 (instead of the projected 17:30). It worked out well in the end. Driving via taxi is faster than the bus, only took 15 minutes. And because there were 4 of us it wasn’t that expensive, only ₪20 each. Still, it was an extra expense since I have a monthly bus pass and I shouldn’t have had to pay anything to get home.
This seems to happen every time there is a holiday, either school holidays or Pesach/Channukah holidays, my bus in particular decides we don’t need to go home.
Israel is home. It was from the very first time I stepped foot on her soil 20 years ago.
I came with my family to visit my uncle. We spent 2 weeks driving from north to south, east to west, seeing as much as we could in the short amount of time that we had. 2 years later at the age of 19, I came on my own and spent 8 months on a kibbutz as a volunteer. I made friends with some of the local girls on the kibbutz and we went traveling together with some of the other volunteers, spent time in the north and in hostels in Tel Aviv. Another 2 trips and I knew I would one day live here.
Paul and I discussed moving to Israel for ages but it was never the right time. Also, Paul had never actually been to Israel so I think it was more of an abstract concept to him. Until he came for a visit and that was that.
We have been here now for just under a year and a half and each day I fall more in love with our home.
This week marks Israels birthday, her independence, Yom Ha’atzmaut. The streets are filled with flags, cars are dressed up with flags, balconies have flags flying. The kids are learning the history of our home and come home every day excited about celebrating.
The day before Yom Ha’atzmaut is a day of mourning, Yom Ha’zikaron. A day where we remember all the fallen, the soldiers, the victims of terror, those that have given their lives for the freedom we now enjoy.
This beautiful country, this proud people go from heartfelt mourning and deep grief to celebration and joy and I can say with absolute certainty that I am proud to be a part of it, proud to be Israeli.
I’ve spoken before about how amazing my kids are in regards to learning Hebrew. How that, within the 1st few months of living in Israel, they were already able to hold a conversation with their friends, teachers and the cashiers at the supermarket.
The fact is that both kids are now fluent. They even know words in Hebrew that they don’t know the English for. Lots of dictionary looking up going on over here.
One of the things that struck me this week is that Faith tends to speak Hebrew when she is playing by herself. I often listen to her playing with her dolls or other toys and speaking in Hebrew to them and making them speak in Hebrew. She very rarely speaks to her dolls in English. She also sings in Hebrew all the time.
Its interesting to me because I don’t think Aaron would do it if he still played with his dolls and action figures by himself (he tends to prefer reading when he is by himself now).
When they play together, just the two of them, they will play in English with a few random Hebrew words or phrases thrown in. When they play together and they have friends over, they speak Hebrew mostly but they switch to English when they are telling each other what to do or fighting about something. I have to keep reminding them that they must speak Hebrew even if it doesn’t involve their friends because its rude to speak English in front of people who don’t understand.
Last week I lost my bus pass. I only realised that it was lost when I couldn’t find it on the way home. It’s a good thing I had some cash on me or I would have been stuck at work. I went the very next morning to the bus office in Modi’in to get a new one and transfer my balance and there it was sitting on the desk. The driver must have found it when he cleaned the bus and handed it in.
Then, yesterday was an ulpan day, which means I take 2 buses from work to Tel Aviv. I got off my first bus and reached into my pocket to get my phone so I could check the app to see when my next bus arrived and my phone wasn’t there.
Okay, let’s not panic. I checked my backpack thinking maybe I popped it in the bag when I put my charger away (I had been charging the phone on the bus). Nope, not there. Okay, now start to panic. One of two things could have happened, I left it on the bus or I was pick pocketed. I had my iPad in my bag but no connectivity until I reached ulpan, some 20 minutes away. The longest 20 minutes ever!
As soon as I got to class I messaged Paul who told me that he had spoken to the bus driver and he had my phone! Long story short, someone called Paul who then called the driver who confirmed he had my phone. After some back and forward it was established I work in Lod and that the driver would leave the phone at the bus office at the central bus stop in Lod. Which is where I went this morning on my way to work. #OnlyInIsrael
After some very stilted Hebrew on my side and some charades (thanks for the word Shani!) from both sides I received my phone back. The guy at the office thought I was hysterically funny and asked for a selfie with me. Who the hell knows where that picture is going to end up. Please let me know if you see it.
Both times I lost things I was on a Kavim bus line and I have to commend the drivers and staff in the offices for their honesty, friendliness and hard work.
So, 2 lost things, both returned. I’m hoping I don’t lose a 3rd thing!
Oh yes, not technically a Lost & Found thing but on the weekend I dropped my iPad and cracked the top of the screen. I taped it together with clear packing tape and it is still usable but it needs to be fixed soon. Maybe the iPad is the 3rd thing and my streak is over? One can hope!
A few people have asked me when or if we will be getting a car and if public transport is feasible in Israel.
We have been in Israel for just over a year now and other than two instances where we hired a car for a weekend, we have not driven at all. We would like to eventually buy a car, especially so we have transport for Saturdays/Shabbat when the public transport system is closed.
So far, relying on public transport has been pretty much okay. Having a well oiled (haha) public transport system is a huge help. Buses are plentiful and, mostly, run on time as do the trains. Its also quite a bit more cost effective than buying and maintaining a car. The downside of course is losing the convenience having a car gives you. Standing in rain that is coming in sideways while waiting for a bus is not fun. Taking children to friends and parties that are not within walking distance or on a bus route would also be a pleasure. But, I personally think at this point, not owning a car makes a lot more sense for us.
Recently, public transport was reformed to streamline costs of bulk (monthly) tickets and yesterday the pricing for public transport was dropped across the board by 17%. I now pay ₪299/month and this covers all my buses and trains between Modi’in and Tel Aviv. I worked out that on average I travel 1044km a month between home, work and ulpan. So if my calculations are correct (they very well might not be, I suck at math), then I am paying on average ₪0.28/km (R1.13/km).
According to Numbeo, the same distance traveled in a ‘Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)’ with an average cost of ₪6.38/l of petrol, would average ₪333 in gas or ₪0.32/km (R1.30/km). Already more expensive and that’s just petrol, never mind insurance, drivers licence, car license and general upkeep (and the cost of the actual car!).
So yup, for now I will continue to take public transport.
*For complete accuracy I would really have to take into account Paul’s transport costs too. He also travels by train and bus. But, we would only buy 1 car, so one of us would most probably still take public transport to and from work while the other would use the car. In which case I think my above calculations are reasonable.