Being a farm boy from a small Midwestern town, I had no idea what to expect moving to Jerusalem. I could think of so many different reasons that I could end up hating it. Yet, to my surprise, none of them came to fruition.
Instead, I have fallen completely in love with the city, its culture, the community, and the food. In fact, I think the only thing I do not like is the heat, but in the broad scheme of things that is not really so bad.
There are so many different incentives for me to love this city that it would be silly to even try to list them all. However, there is one that I want to talk about here. Jerusalem is a city of some 850,000 people, and amongst the crowds you can find almost any culture you can imagine. Some days I make a game out of how many different languages I can hear walking down Yafo Street or through the Old City.
Of course, there are the ever-present ones, Hebrew, Arabic, and English, but it’s also common to hear German, Spanish, Russian, and even on occasion Mandarin. The Israeli culture itself is a beautiful thing, full of rich history, delicious foods, and incredible music. However, what makes Israel all the more amazing are the countless smaller cultural groups within it.
It is incredibly important, and fun, to make friends with locals. Yet, one of the best parts about Israel is that even while you are becoming a part of the community, you are also able to build friendships with people from all around the world. I came to Israel hoping that I would build relationships with Israelis, and I have, but at the same time, I have made friends with Africans, Europeans, Russians, Asians, South Americans, and even a Canadian or two.
I am still waiting to see what my first full semester brings me, but after nearly three months in Jerusalem, one thing is for sure. Friendships are not something that I will be lacking!