It’s been one month since I arrived in Israel and the time has flown by! It feels as if I have so much more to see, but I keep reminding myself I have time.
I’ve enjoyed that the daily routine of Jerusalem is different from what I am used to. Every week, Shabbat starts Friday evening and ends Saturday evening; therefore, the weekend in Israel is Friday thru Saturday. (It has definitely taken some adjustment to go to class on Sunday, but not Friday.) During the Sabbath in Jerusalem, banks, public transportation, most restaurants, and grocery stores are all closed, so I have slowly gotten used to not needing those services. However, I can go to the gym, study at a café, and get falafel near the Student Village if needed during Shabbat. If I need to go anywhere, I can always walk or call a cab.
Living in Israel during the holidays has also been eye-opening. I went to Tel Aviv during Rosh Hashanah, the New Year’s celebration, and it was exciting to see everyone out on the beach, as businesses were closed. Rosh Hashanah reminded me of Chinese New Year, where the food symbolizes different aspects of the year and everyone gathers together with friends and family.
During Yom Kippur, I stayed in Jerusalem, just in the neighboring community of French Hill, and everything was so quiet that I saw children outside playing in the streets. It was interesting to be in a city that shut down for a full day.
Finally, during Sukkot I was in Eilat, the southernmost city, and all the families were at the beach on vacation before going back to work and school. It was the liveliest time to visit and I felt the relaxed and bustling nature of the beach town and even got to swim in the Red Sea.
From each of these three cities, I have already gotten a sense of the different atmospheres and it has been invigorating to have the chance to experience it all. I appreciate the different cultures of each city and how they allow me to see the different aspects of this country.
Adjusting to life in the Student Village has also been a learning curve. Luckily, I am used to using public transportation back in the states, so I have already ridden the light rail and taken the buses to and from Mount Scopus with the assistance of a helpful phone app, Moovit. It is easy to get to the City Center, The Edmond J. Safra Campus (Givat Ram), another Hebrew University Jerusalem campus, and to and around other cities. Even though I don’t live directly in the center of all the action, the city is very accessible, and I can pick and choose when to go into the city to experience some nightlife and see other Jerusalem neighborhoods. I have especially enjoyed this last month getting acquainted with Jerusalem and Israel.
I have already seen bits of Jerusalem, but I plan on seeing even more because I know this city is so diverse and unique. I look forward to continuing exploring Jerusalem and getting the chance to talk to more people and learn from this new adventure!
Fun Facts about Jerusalem
- 874,000 residents
- 2,000+ active archaeological sites
- 50+ churches, 33 mosques, and 300 synagogues
- 60+ museums
- 1,500+ public parks and gardens
- Some of the olive trees in Jerusalem are more than 800 years old.
- There are more than 26 wineries in and around Jerusalem.
- There are more than 50 Christian churches, 33 Muslim mosques, and 300 Jewish synagogues in the city.
- Jerusalem hosts more than 30 annual festivals for everything from opera to film and from books to wine tasting, the most in all of Israel.
- Jerusalem hosts Israel’s second-largest Pride parade, which draws more than 25,000 marchers.
- Jerusalem has over 2,000 archeological sites.
- There are 90 hotels in Jerusalem hosting over 9,000 hotel rooms.
- There are over 6,000 species of plants in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.
- Jerusalem has 1,578 public gardens and parks