Sometimes we take the words we know for granted. They just are. We don’t really think of their origins or their actual meanings.
In my last ulpan class we learned the word for middle, אֶמצַע (emtza), we were talking geography, far east, middle east etc… While explaining the word to us, our teacher said ‘middle east, like the Mediterranean sea area.’
One of the benefits you receive as a new immigrant in Israel is free language classes (ulpan).
You have up to 18 months to make use of the benefit and if you don’t use it you would have to pay for any language classes you took after that time.
If we had not managed to find jobs almost straight away, both Paul and I would have attended full time ulpan. That consists of 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5 months. As it is we were both very lucky and were able to find jobs within a few weeks of arriving. The Ministry of Absorption makes a plan for those like us and there are ulpan schools that provide part time, after hours classes.
For the last 10 months, Paul has been attending these classes 2 nights a week for 3 hours a night. His classes come to an end at the end of this month and mine will start at the beginning of February.
This morning I hopped a train to Tel Aviv and went to the Ministry office to receive my voucher that needs to be given to the ulpan so that I don’t have to pay for the classes. On Sunday afternoon I will go to the ulpan to register and to be tested to see which level class I will be placed in.
While I can make myself understood on a very, very basic level and most of the children’s friends parents speak some degree of English, I’m actually very excited to be formally learning Hebrew, it will make my life that much easier are far more enriched to be able to understand what is being said around me.
I’m a bit nervous because I’ve never been very good at languages. Or classrooms. Or studying. But I saw the quote below (by a fellow Israeli!) and that pretty much describes me, so onward with the learning!