08 March 2009

Be'America (Be'Ima Sheli)

That's right! It's super-fateful grad school visiting time!

But first: culture shock! ETA: Daniel added my translation to the video! Subtitled version here...

Keren Mor: Who's last [in line]?
Shai Avivi: I am.
KM: Is there someone...?
SA: Where?
KM: Inside?
Dov Navon: Some old lady. She's been in there for an hour.
KM: I just have one question.
SA: Sweetie, everyone just has one question.
DN: I've just had one question since morning!
KM: This can only happen in Israel.
DN: All because of the bureaucracy...
SA: In America, you wouldn't wait even one minute in line.
KM: America — how can you compare? In America, the customer is always right. You can buy a shirt and return it a month later, and they'll give you your money back.
DN: Here, I bought this in America. No buttons!
KM: They'll give you your money back even without buttons. Even if you don't want to return the shirt, they'll still give you your money back.
SA: They'll give it back and say thank you!
KM: Sure, "thank you," but later they'll mug you in the street, with, with the money you got back.
DN: Yeah, they'll kill you there, like, no big deal.
KM: Murders and muggings, and no one even cares. You could walk around there in the middle of the street at midday and get murdered, and no one would care. You could bleed all day long on the sidewalk and no one would care.
DN: Yeah, in Israel, people care.
KM: In Israel! In Israel you can walk outside at night without having to worry.
DN: They'll murder you! And no one will care.
KM: Where?
DN: In America.
SA: America! In America, of course they'll murder you. But we were talking about Israel!
DN: Oh! No, in Israel they won't murder you.
KM: No, they won't murder you but they'll take the skin off your back with these prices, and what'll you get out of it in the end? Such small portions!
SA: Ah, in America, portions are portions — enough for you and all of your friends!
DN: Yeah, but, that's America. In America, there are no friends. There, it's dog-eat-dog. So what'll you do, go to a restaurant alone? And then what will you do with all the leftovers from your huge portions?
KM: What, what's the problem? Just take the leftovers home.
SA: Yeah, it's completely acceptable. In Israel, if you ask a waiter to wrap up your leftover food, they'll look at you like you killed somebody!
DN: Yeah, and then, on the way home, they'll kill you AND take your food.
KM: Where?
DN: ... in America.
KM: Sure! In America, no one cares!
SA: In America, you can bleed in the middle of a restaurant, right into your plate — no one will care!
DN: But there, your plate's be full of big portions.
KM: Yeah and then they'll give you your money back and say thank you!
SA: In Israel, if you bleed in the middle of a restaurant right into your plate, they'll look at you like you killed somebody!
DN: Well yeah, it's completely acceptable.
SA: Where?
DN: In America —
KM: In Israel —
DN: — err, in Israel —
KM: — in America —
SA: In America, if they raise the prices, people take to the streets.
DN: True, but they can get murdered in the streets.
KM: Sure, but who cares? No one.
SA: In Israel, people won't ever take to the streets.
DN: And even if they do, no one will murder them.
KM: And if they do get murdered, everyone will care.
SA: Where?
DN: ... In America.
SA: What shit.
KM: Where?
SA: In Israel.
KM: Ah.
DN: But not like in America.
SA: Well, America! How can you compare? [sigh]
DN: [sigh]
KM: ... Who's the doctor?

Catching up!

Despite indications to the contrary, I survived the war. (Whew!)

The real reason for my bloggy silence is that I have had nothing sufficiently important to procrastinate about. Semester-א ended on February 6th, and Semester-ב only starts tomorrow. I've been on vacation!

Now, just to be clear: there are no real breaks between semesters in Israel. Instead of having reading week, finals week, and then vacation, the exams are spread across a whole month, right up until the day before classes resume. In fact, it's even worse than that. All of this is just "Mo'ed Alef" (the first round of exams). If you want to improve your score, you're guaranteed an opportunity to retake the exams: "Mo'ed Bet". And if you're not sure you're ready for the exam when the exam date arrives, you can take it on the retake date, and you're guaranteed another retake date even later on. That's right, "Mo'ed Gimel." I think there's even a "Mo'ed Daled," for students who get called away to reserves service during the earlier rounds of exams.

Consequently, pathological procrastinators wind up smearing one semester's exam period into the following semester. The guy I dated over the summer couldn't go home for Rosh Hashana because he was still studying for last year's semester-ב exams.

So during the break all the Serious Hebrew U Students were busy with a never-ending stream of exams. Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to travel and have adventures around Israel! The Center for the Study of Rationality took all of us on a retreat to the Galillee and the Golan Heights, where we investigated rationality, hiked, and thorougly celebrated Tu B'Shvat with wild hotel-room parties. Just after I got back, I took off again and drove half the length of the country on an off-roading jeep trip with my uncle. I crashed with Jessa and her cousin Suzie for a few days at the University of Haifa, hung out in Tel Aviv and Rehovot with Garth, had a cookout with Katey & Dan on the roof of a dorm at Weitzman and spent a few days chilling with Rotem's family in Nes Tziona.

After that, I was supposed to go on a ʇɥbıɹq1nɟ-sponsored trip to the north of Israel, but my body decided it was time to catch a respiratory virus and a digestive bug, and have a total blue-screen system meltdown. I took my packed bags — actually, Rotem took them for me — and crash-landed at my grandmother's house, that well-known middle-east TLC hotspot. A week and a half and a million cups of tea later, I'm coughing but otherwise fully recovered. בשעה טובה!