This country is overrun with cats and black hats. My hands dry up fast.
The program has started. My knees are covered in bruises and laughing hurts. Climbing stairs is a nightmare. Today I put too much after-exercise balm on my legs and they’ve been tingling for two hours straight.
There are 12 of us, and we have a funny little house in the Goldstein Youth Village, the same village I would have lived in if I had done TRY in high school. For the moment I have my own room, but we might get one more person, in which case I will have a roommate. My introverted inner self is sobbing at the prospect, but everyone else is managing, so I will have to as well.
We represent seven countries and speak at least five languages in our single-story, tile-roofed bungalow. There’s a kindergarten that meets next door and the slide in their playground stands right outside my window. We range in age from 22 to 30 but seem to meet fairly successfully in the middle. Three of us are on MASA scholarships, which means that we are obligated to take hebrew classes and participate in a specific set of activities facilitated by VIDP.
I didn’t expect this, but so far the course is very much like my imagined traditional study abroad trip. Yesterday, at the end of our first (mini) week, we all sat in a circle in the courtyard and played name games. We actually have weekends off (although Shabbis makes doing most touristy things challenging). Compared to programs I’ve done in the past the schedule (at least on paper) doesn’t seem so bad.
Despite my semi-latent internal puritanical work machine, this all seems great. I’ve been itching to slow down and nest a bit, and I think it might happen here. My room is tidy, I’ve been flossing my teeth every night, and my inbox is nearly empty. I’ve been successfully getting work done, sleeping at least eight hours a night, and have even started to wade through my enormous “watch later” playlist on youtube.
It might not last. But in the meantime, I’m happy sitting in the sun, my OCD tendencies assuaged, and the sound of someone chanting Kabbalat Shabbat wafting up from down the hill. It’s eery and disorienting, but also familiar, and for now that will have to do.