שלום (Shalom)

June 4th– June 10th

*whispers* I haven’t yet decided how I want to structure these next coming weeks on this blog, but…

here I am! I’ve made it to ISRAEL!!! AAHHHHH! So excited to be here. It’s only been a week but I’ve had my share of experiences already (and they’ve all been super great and rewarding). The beginning would probably be the best place to start so…

The journey overseas: The flight was a total of a whopping 16 hours – yes S I X T E E N (ish). Caught my flight to Turkey, which took about 11, had a 3 hour layover, then lastly a 2 hour flight into Tel Aviv. It actually went by a lot more quickly than I expected (because luckily I’m a heavy sleeper and slept most of the way—it’s actually a problem, I can fall asleep a n y w h e r e) and they actually fed us A LOT in those planes. The trip can be summarized in two short words: sleep and food. Funny: I fell asleep after dinner and woke up to a tray in my face. My reaction: uhh what is this? *politely* Flight attendant: Your breakfast of course. Say whaaat. It was great lol. But yeah everything went smoothly, and y’all aren’t here to read about my plane flight anyway so on to…

My first day in Jerusalem: Woke up bright and early and the first thing I noticed was the gorgeoussss weather here. No clouds, pure sun, slight wind. I loved it. I love it. Wow. Yes. (Reason #1 to move to Israel). I also quickly noticed the diversity of this beautiful city’s population (Reason #2). Some in traditional attire, others still conservative but not as traditional, and others as casual and unconventional as the South Beach frequenter. This broad spectrum of expression brought a bit of shock and a lot of relief to me—an outsider in many ways. My first impression of the city was one of amazement, and set the stage for what I hope to be one of the best summers of my life.

Now, instead of a day-to-day play-by-play (because who wants to read all that, and quite frankly who wants to write all that?) I’ll leave you with some highlights of my week so far. There’s just been so much to see and feel and taste that there’s no way I can write it all down.

Tuesday night: Story time…After a well-needed jetlagged nap, I woke up to an acoustic guitar and alto voice tuning outside my window. It was about 11pm, the streets were bustling (as they always do on this road) and I decided to go on a little adventure to find the musician. Unfortunately, as soon as I made it down he stopped playing (BUT I did find him sitting on the side of the street). And right on time, my ears caught the melody of a jazz band nearby (my inner sophisticate jumped for joy). I followed once again, and found the quaintest bar not too far away. Had I told my mom about this spontaneous evening stroll, she may have freaked out just a little. But I felt incredibly safe everywhere I went and had such a good little time listening to the live band that evening.

Wednesday: I got the approval for my summer project (more info to come later—but it’s something I find super purposeful and necessary so I’m very excited to learn more!). Afterward, I took a trip into the Old City. I visited a multitude of sites, including the Western Wall, the room of The Last Supper, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I am no where near done exploring this sacred region, and there’s so much that could be said about the energy that overwhelms you when you step inside such spaces. One particular moment that stood out to me was walking down to where it is believed the Virgin Mary passed away. A statue of her laid in the center of the room, and people all around me began weeping and rubbing their belongings on her, perhaps to take in whatever blessings or covering they could. It was incredible. It was solemn. It was moving. The rest of the evening I wandered through the valleys and marketplaces for a few hours, not knowing where I was going, but discovering whatever came up along the way. A real life adventure. Later that evening, I found my way to The First Station— a hub of culture, food, and entertainment. (Imagine Wynwood…in Jerusalem). I had such a great time there, and hope to make my way back before the trip is through.

This was a pretty long day, if you couldn’t tell…my iPhone says I walked over 6 miles this day. Guess I don’t have to feel bad about not going to the gym after all, hehe.

Thursday: Public Health visit #1! I traveled with my preceptor into an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood and sat in on a school clinic visit. My walk through an epicenter of religion and conservatism began a journey of educating myself on the Jewish faith. I actually wrote in my nightly journal that evening:

“If I were to do undergrad all over again, I’d probably double major with Religious Studies. It’s so incredible not only to find out what others believe, but also why they believe such things, and how that influences their day-to-day experience with the world around them.”

Friday-Saturday: My first glimpse at Shabbat or The Jewish Sabbath. Everything, and I mean nearly e v e r y t h i n g shuts down. Public transportation, restaurants, shops…the complete antithesis of the hustle and bustle I experienced throughout the week. There was a serene feeling in the air though, that I don’t usually get back home on a Saturday afternoon. Oh! And remember up there where I said the weather was beautiful? Yeah it’s still beautiful…but it’s gotten about TEN degrees hotter than my first day. The sun is no joke! Luckily, I was able to find a cute 24-hour coffee shop to spend my afternoon reading and working. This will probably be my Saturday go-to in the weeks to come.

So there ya have it! My first week in Jerusalem, Israel. I think that’s all the big stuff I wanted to mention for now.

Peace & love (& faith & travels & yummy falafels),

The I.T. Factor

Future (Badass) MD.

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You’re as cool as the temperature of your drink 😉

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