In darkness there is light

There are many situations that test a persons strength everyday. Most, are small and unnoticeable.

Should I open that bag of chips even though I just ate some chocolate?

Some can be a bit more difficult and more noticeable.

Should I continue watching TV even though I’ve been watching for hours on end? Maybe I should read a book (or write a blog)

Some are extremely rare, and exceedingly difficult.

I currently have no job* and no home, I’ll stay in bed for another 5 hours.

*When the lockdown is lifted, I will be going back to work; however there is no date available for when my gan will be opening*

All the above situations are all true, and have all happened to me. Yes, they have different degrees of strength but the fact that I didn’t open the bag of chips, or that I shut the TV off to write this blog post, or the fact that I got out of bed today are all things I can say proudly.

When I made Aliyah 1.5 years ago (damn time flies) I NEVER thought in my wildest dreams that I would be in a situation like this. Let alone the whole world. We are all in isolation and unsure of what will be.

While children are home with their families making memories they will never forget, I’m faced with the difficultly of having my family thousands of miles away and missing them more now, than ever before.

I’d like to think that I am a resilient person. Those close to me know that things haven’t always been easy for me, or my family since the beginning of my life. Somehow, I’ve always been able to overcome whatever is thrown at me.

The past month has certainly put everything to the test. My strength, my resiliency, my mental health, literally my entire being. I’ve been defeated more times then I can count but still, here I am.

And guess what?

Yesterday, was actually a good day. The first good day I’ve had in a really long time. For that, I am thankful.

It does get better, there is a calm after the storm. It might be a realllllllly long storm but eventually the clouds go away and the sun shines. Now, I say all of this and I know that the potential for tomorrow to be another bad day far exceeds my positivity in thinking that maybe it could be a good day; but I find myself with a glimmer of hope.

Trying to stay positive and upbeat when life kept constantly knocking me down has been really overpowering. I had been giving in.

I pride myself in being an honest person, and this blog series has been an amazing outlet for me. I know a few of my followers, but for the most part there’s complete strangers reading and listening to what I have to say.

Thank you. Thank you to all the people in my life that support me, pray for me, think of me, and love me.

You are the ones that keep me going. You are the ones that make me find my inner strength. Without you, I don’t know where I would be.

Even in the darkest of times, I know I still have you rooting me on. For that, and so much more I am eternally grateful.

xo,

Erica

Defeated

Hello my loyal followers!

Just to give a bit of an update.

I am currently in Afula with Maayan at her mom’s apartment. My apartment situation was getting increasingly dangerous and overall bad for my health.

The downhill started Thursday night when we found bugs all over the apartment, on our things, on the walls, literally everywhere. Once we identified the type of bug, we know the bugs thrive in a moldy environment.

To give a bit of a back story we had been having flooding in our apartment. Our apartment was on the ground floor and after a very rainy winter and some old pipes on our street and in our building we initially thought that once winter was over the flooding would stop. There was so much flooding and damage to our apartment that the floor was starting to pop up and mold was growing. At first, we would clean the mold since it was pretty manageable in the beginning, to be honest.  Nonetheless, we would call and message our landlord with no answer in return.

It was about 3 weeks ago now that when I opened my closet I noticed mold had started growing inside. After having to throw away some of my clothes and send the rest to laundry services (we don’t have a washing machine in our apartment), I sat in the middle of my room and just cried. I felt completely defeated.

Now Maayan and I had been already looking for apartments; however with the guidelines and restrictions from Coronavirus it was very difficult to leave our apartment and go look at a new one with only 100 meters (328 feet) to go. Many times when we left, we were just hoping we wouldn’t get stopped by police and fined 500 shekel ($142). Obviously we would explain our situation and hope the police would understand and let us go. Thankfully we never got stopped. About 2 weeks ago it looked like we had an apartment! Incredible location, great price, all in all we thought luck was finally on our side.

Well, in ended pretty quickly because the owner of the apartment wanted to up the price per month by nearly 1000 shekels and by doing so, we then couldn’t afford the apartment.

Back to searching we went.

We were looking and looking, calling everyday new apartment listing that we found and we just couldn’t make anything work. Either no one would answer the phone, the apartment was no longer relevant, or after some more research the apartment was in a not so good location.

Our current landlord was just a complete asshole, to be honest. He didn’t care about our situation and wasn’t keen on helping us. It was growing increasingly more difficult to find an apartment and we both knew we were on borrowed time. With the coronavirus situation, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut upcoming the country would be heading back into a lockdown including public transportation ban. We had made a decision to end our lease May 1.

Collectively we made a decision to go up North. Maayan’s mom welcomed me with open arms to stay with them at her house and I graciously accepted. Maayan and I called a moving company Thursday night and we had made plans to move Friday morning at 8:00. Amit came Thursday night and the 3 of us packed up our apartment and got everything ready. Maayan and I were planning on taking a bus to Afula but for whatever reason egged (the bus company wasn’t running at all until Sunday morning. We briefly thought about postponing our move until Sunday, but the situation to get out of our apartment was dire — we couldn’t wait. So we made arrangements to take a taxi.

8:00 comes and the movers haven’t arrived. We’re calling them and calling them, no answer. Finally around 8:30 they call us, saying they’re going to be late and that they’ll be at the apartment at 9:30. So we call the taxi driver and push the time to pick us up to an hour later, the driver couldn’t accommodate the new time so now we had to find a new driver. Well that proved to be difficult since most drivers don’t want to take 2 people (due to regulations taxis can only take one person unless they need/have a caregiver) We had made plans with the driver that one of us was a “care giver” and everything was looking ok.

The movers finally came, and said because they were late they would take us to Afula, so thankfully our luck turned a bit.

We made our way to Afula and unloaded all of our stuff and now I am with Maayan at her mom’s house.

On top of all this a lot of changes have been happening at work. Some staff are not returning and the number of children are increasing in my classroom, so to say I’m a bit stressed is an understatement.

Like a phoenix, I will rise from the ashes!

It can’t get much worse, can it?!

xo,

Erica

Quarantine Day #1,245

Hi there.

Reporting live from within the 4 walls of my bedroom, a place a haven’t really left in approximately 23 days.

I figured now would be a great time to update everyone on how life is going in Israel!

Well, for the past 23 days (what feels now like 23 years) I’m pretty sure I’ve binge-watched every possible show on Netflix and Hulu, read all the books I have with me, and taken enough naps to last me a lifetime. I’ve talked to my family and friends daily to the point where sometimes I just call, say hello, listening to the breathing on the other end, and say “ok, talk later”.

Now, some unusual circumstances have come up. Along with this crazy-never-would-have-planned-a-world-wide-pandemic kinda thing happening, my roommate and I are currently trying to rapidly find a new apartment.

It’s been officially one year in the same apartment and there were good times, but there were bad times as well. We had flooding issues, and now most recently a complete infestation of mold. Yaaaaaaay! How exciting, at least I can clean during all my free time now.

Ok, ok yes I am super negative right now, and I’ve become pretty sad and depressed. Trying to find a brand new apartment during a time where the country is pretty much on lockdown and whatever little part isn’t on lockdown is now preparing for a pretty major holiday (Passover) is proving to be extremely difficult. I had a glimmer of hope that everything will be ok somehow and then boom, a new problem pops up.

I’m not gonna lie, it is really hard to stay positive. It is hard to find the silver lining. I’m sure it’s there, I just can’t find it.

I miss my family, I miss my job, I miss the normalcy of a daily schedule.

I want to clarify, I’m not sharing all of this to have people feel bad for me. I know everyone is going through the same thing. Not being able to see their loved ones, not being able to go to work, not being able to go get food without needing to put on gloves and a face mask.

This is a scary, uncertain time. Beyond being sad, above all I’m scared. I’m scared of going outside, I’m scared of going to the store to get food, I don’t want to get sick.

This isn’t much of an update, I suppose, more of just a place where I can vent. For that, I thank you. Thanks for reading, for listening to what I have to say. I hope that all cases will diminish over time, all lockdowns will be lifted and we can resume our daily life.

We’re all in this together, apart, but together.

xo,

Erica

 

 

the city that stole my heart

To all of my loyal followers who have stayed with me in my journey — thank you for being patient!

It has been months since I’ve updated and I do apologize; but as I’m sure everyone knows that life gets in the way.

I have graduated from my Ulpan program and moved to the big city!

Now, those of you that know me know I come from a small town. I am very much a small town girl. I went to college in the same city where I grew up and besides Israel, I have never left the comfort of my own home (thanks mom and dad 😉)

It seems odd that not only have I moved countries away but to a city?! My how things have changed. I was never one for sleep away camps— or camp at all, really. I was a homebody, but as the years grew on, so did I.

I am proud to update you all and say that I am now successfully living in Tel Aviv!

I moved 4 months ago (whaaaaaat) and within two weeks of living in Tel Aviv I found myself a job. It was quite crazy actually. I applied to this position for an English tutor and then next day I had an interview and after I had my interview I walked out with an employment contract. I was working for a company for a month traveling to peoples homes and doing private lessons in English to families from the MOD (ministry of defense) who were being relocated to English speaking countries. While it was fun and rewarding in its own way I wanted something with more of a schedule, benefits, and of course a career path!

…..so there started my job search– again! Quite simply I googled “English speaking gans in Tel Aviv” for those of you who don’t know a gan is a mix between a daycare and a kindergarten. I found 3 different gans that were close to my apartment and I emailed all three my CV and was inquiring if they had any positions open.

I heard back from two and interviewed at both and I fell in love with one.

For 3 months now I have been working full time (6 days a week!) at Rainbow Nursery or גן קשת. Rainbow is a bilingual, educational gan that serves from 3 months until 5 years. I am working in the Tigers room (26 children; the children are currently at age 22-27 months) as a keyworker for green group.

In the gan there are 150 children broken into 5 groups (penguins, tigers, zebras, lions, and elephants) each class has 4 color groups (red & blue – the youngest and green & yellow- the oldest)

What does a keyworker mean? It means I oversee 8 children daily on a 1:1 personal basis. I also run an adult led activity everyday for one hour, as well as multiple adult initiated activities where I welcome children to come build towers out of blocksC or the the role play area, or even to come listen to a book (sometimes in Hebrew 😊) I also change nappies (our gan uses British English) everyday so now I’m a changing wizard. Of course, I also work with all of the other children; however, for my kids I am constantly doing observations, daily development plans, parent consultations/meetings, and so much more.

Two months into my job I was offered a promotion. The promotion will take affect August 25 as I transition into the role of deputy team leader of lions (36 children) I will oversee 50% of the class (red and blue groups), take more part of planning the daily activities, engage in morning rotation activities which include language, math/science, art, and cooking. I will also be doing home visits. The children I will be working with will be 3 years old.

The gan is completely bilingual and the children are unbelievable. Every class has Hebrew speaking staff as well as English speaking staff. 50% of the time English is spoken and the other 50% is Hebrew. Truly, language is an amazing thing. Many children speak two or even three languages fluently and it’s astonishing! I have stepped into a leadership role and the transition is going smoothly. As I prepare to move classrooms, I am given new responsibilities and duties to complete daily. I helped co-lead a tour for prospective families (for 2020!!) last Friday. I help set up classrooms to make it look welcoming and professional.

My job is about 25 minute walk away from my apartment which is a very nice commute. When I’m feeling lazy or tired it’s only a 10 minute bus ride!

I’ve become a local! Or as local one could be in a city. I have my usual supermarket, usual coffee place (conveniently located next to the gan), usual bar (shout out to all my friends who are the bartenders), etc.

All of the good/positive updates are great but don’t get me wrong. I still have my days where I really miss my family. A few weeks ago was my birthday- the first one I spent away from my family and our regular traditions of celebrating. A month ago or so I was really sick for weeks I had a terrible virus and all I wanted was my moms matzah ball soup. Working with kids as a teacher makes me miss my niece and see her development and how she’s learning and watching her grow. I miss my dad, seeing all the kids during pickup so excited to see their “aba” (dad) and greeting them with a smile and a hug just makes me wish I could go back to my apartment and open the door and see and greet my dad with a smile and a hug. I miss my sister and all of the things we would do together and all of my friends.

Buuuuuuuuuuuut in 21 days I’ll be back in the states for almost 3 weeks! I’m so excited to see everyone and not have to deal with flying cockroaches.

xo,

Erica

Update: I’m doing ok!

I realize it has been months since I’ve last posted. So sorry!

In the past months I’ve been busy getting my permanent Teudat Zehut (Israeli ID card), taking Ulpan classes 4 times a week, and trying not to knock over boxes of screws/bolts at work. 

I’ll be honest the first 6-8 weeks here were really rough (and sometimes continue to be). A lot of people here were different than me, and it was hard to find common ground to bond over. I found myself purposefully isolating myself and staying in my room, and fleeing on the weekends to various friends houses. It was/is a struggle knowing that I can’t cook for myself. As great as it is to have the dining hall, I really wish I could just cook something for me. However, with no oven, stove, or even hot plate, it’s nearly impossible. 

I found myself questioning my decision. Why did I come here? What did I want out of this “experience”. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t think it would be this hard. I kept comparing everything to last year and all of the experiences and friends I had. I know this time is different but deep down I wanted it to be the same. As I found myself stuck on dwelling on the past I pushed forward and now I’m focused on living in the present. Living life on a kibbutz, while somewhat convenient, community-filled, and small, I have come to the conclusion that at this particular point in my life kibbutz life isn’t for me. 

Fast forward to now, I still think kibbutz life isn’t exactly where I see myself, but my time is so much better! I have made connections with people here and have a friend group, I am enjoying Ulpan and learning so much, and even my job isn’t all that bad. Sometimes I leave on the weekend and sometimes I don’t so I can hang with people here. 

This weekend I’m going to Tel Aviv with two girls from the program. It should be a good trip! 

My time on the kibbutz ends at the end of April. In 3 months I have to have a somewhat solid plan as to where I’m living and a job. It’s crazy because I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow let alone what I’ll be doing/where I’ll be in 3 months! I have an idea of what I want to do, but for now I’m just kinda winging it. 

I’m also hoping to do some traveling once Ulpan is over and before I really “settle down”. 

The past 69 days have been good and bad but I know this is where I want to be. All the feelings of doubt have gone away and I want to live my life here and I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds. 

xo, 

Erica

6 hours later…

Have you ever walked into a meeting or a classroom, or even work for the first time and immediately felt like you were behind? 

That’s how I felt on my first day of Ulpan. 

It was hard. I had a massive headache at the end. Did I understand everything that was going on? No. Did I learn a lot? Yes. 

Last year was great, but my Hebrew knowledge is more kid-friendly and I know nothing of grammar or past or future tenses. 

At our first break I begged to be moved back to level bet. I was told it would be to easy for me and that I already know what they’re working on. So, I was forced to put my big girl pants on and face the next 6 hours of Hebrew. 

At the end of the class, I realized I knew more than I thought I knew. I filled out a worksheet in class and I got them all right so that was a nice confidence booster. However, I am going to work with a teacher 1:1 to learn more intensely the past and future tense since I really need help with that. 

I just finished my homework – two worksheets we had to fill out based on the vocabulary we learned in class. Am I confident that I got everything correct? Absolutely not. Did I finish the assignments given? Yes. 

Learning another language is no joke. It’s hard work and I’m here for the ride. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to write one of these blogs in Hebrew. 

I was supposed to start work today but throughout the night I had gotten sick. A lot of people smoke here including all of my housemates, so my asthma’s having a field day with that. When I showed up for work this morning, Amir actually sent me home and told me to go back to sleep. My job is still in the screw factory. So it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. My next work day is Monday! So I have a few days before that comes back. My work uniform consists of heavy duty black work boots, blue khakis with a crap ton of pockets (not actually complaining about that one!) and a t-shirt. 

Today was a tough day. I wasn’t feeling well and I was really missing the girls from last year. I am the second oldest in this program on the kibbutz. Mainly there are 18-20 year olds and most of them (with the exception of 2) come from Russian speaking countries so language is a big barrier. I miss my kids, my host teacher, host family, and my town I lived in. It’s hard, but I have to try to stop comparing “last year vs this year”. I’ve been here less than two weeks so I have time. 

I’m thankful that I have all “my people” in my corner, last night I actually met up with Guy in Haifa it was nice being away from the kibbutz for a little. We got cheeseburgers for dinner so that was good too, haha. 

Tomorrow I have Ulpan again and then I’m off until Sunday. 

xo,

Erica

Some things never change!

What a day I’ve had. 

I spent about 4 hours (on and off) calling hot mobile today. Hot mobile is my phone service out here. I purchased a phone plan because the one I received from misrad haklita ran out. I was bounced around between people (Hebrew speaking as well as English speaking) and no one could tell me why my phone wasn’t working. Finally I went to Amir, he helps with our Ulpan program and asked him to help me speak with the customer service. FINALLY after many different representatives telling me in different languages that nothing was wrong with my account this person said there was a block on my account. Got that settled right away and now my phone is as good as new! 🙌🏼

So far, I’ve had a great Hanukkah break. I spent some time with Mor and Amit and their families. My tummy is full of levivot (latkes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts)!

I got back to the kibbutz last night and I got to know more people that are doing the Ulpan program. There are two groups here. People would made Aliyah (like me) and people that are doing volunteer time. There’s people from US, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, France, Romania, England, Spain, and Venezuela. We have our own United Nations! 

I found out that my “job” is studying the anatomy of screws and then working the assembly line to make sure they are all manufactured correctly. Well I found out that there’s an opening at the children’s petting zoo.  I’m hoping I can switch my job to working with the animals and the kids! Hopefully I’ll find out tomorrow if I get the ok to switch. 

Tomorrow I’m going to Haifa to the mall to do some shopping and a couple of other things I have to do. I should be getting my health insurance card and my bank card tomorrow. I’ve been here 11 days and I’d say I’m in pretty good shape for getting settled and everything set up for my transition into a true Israeli! I already have my Israeli phone number memorized (in English and Hebrew 😉) next up is memorizing my teudat zehut. 

Overall the past week has been pretty low key. It has been really great spending my second Hanukkah in Israel! It’s gotten colder and rainy. Winter has arrived in Israel. My roommate, Fey and I have the heat on in our room. Some good news, we haven’t received a third roommate so it looks like it’s just going to be the two of us! Wahoo 

Excited and nervous to start Ulpan on Tuesday! Can’t wait to start talking to my friends in Hebrew more fluently. 

Tonight, I’m hanging out with some of the Russians and trying to learn a little Russian! 

xo,

Erica