First Impressions and Cat Attentions
By Lizzie - August 15, 2018
It wasn’t until I stepped out of the airport in Tel Aviv that it hit me that I would be spending five months in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, trying to learn an unfamiliar language. We as humans tend to shy away from the unknown. We don’t like what we can’t expect or what we’re not used to. I was expecting my first feelings to be anxiety, unsureness, and doubt. But what hit me when I took those initial steps outside were exhilaration, gratefulness, and the yearning to be a part of a culture different than my own.
The first few days of being in Israel were some of the longest, but ones I will never forget. Meeting everyone on the program, going to the Dead Sea, visiting Ben-Gurion’s grave, and hiking Ein Gedi waterfalls all while creating friendships and social structures during just the first weekend were wondrous. During this time everyone has become shockingly close. After the first week, the boys on the first floor leave their apartment door open so everyone can come in and hangout and groups of 10-12 students head out as a group to Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, clubs, and pubs. No two people on the program are the same, not even close, yet we’ve become [insert cliché here] an amazing family.
I don’t think a lot of people like being labeled as “the ____ person” but I’ve realized after several days of being at BGU that I am definitely “the cat person.” I know, I know, you’re not supposed to pet the cats, but to be honest I find that it’s a suggestion that can be harmless to brush aside. Nothing motivates me more to wake up at seven in the morning to learn Hebrew than to see the hundreds of cats on BGU’s campus. You may be thinking “wow, this girl likes cats” but let me clarify that anytime I see a cat I will B-line to him/her/them to try and pet the trash cats (charming name, right?). Being known as the cat lover may not appeal to everyone, but the thing about the cats is that they remind me of home. Being hundreds of miles away can be tough for some people but imagine seeing something 10 times a day everywhere you go and suddenly feeling like you’re home again. How on earth can someone judge that?
I am so grateful to be having this experience. It’s only been two weeks and I’ve met some of the best people and have had some of the best experiences I ever will. Even while I’m struggling to learn Hebrew or am exhausted from the heat, I honestly can’t imagine being anywhere else.