I blinked, and somehow, I’ve already been in Israel for two months! So far, a lot has happened. I found an apartment, started Hebrew classes, settled into my organization’s Tel Aviv office, and am building my personal life. A brief summary:
Apartment hunting in Tel Aviv is just as cutthroat as apartment hunting in NYC. So I was prepared, at least. But I wasn’t prepared to have to see 9-10 apartments in a week. That was intense. Luckily, I fell in love with apartment #8, and everything worked out! It’s in a great location, within my budget, and my roommates are nice. Is it weird to live with other people after living alone for 2+ years? Definitely. Can I afford to live alone? Sadly…no. But yeah, apartment hunting has been the most difficult thing I’ve done, so far.
Ulpan has been interesting. Last week, I moved to a more advanced class (from Gimmel to Gimmel+/level 3 to advanced level 3), because although I loved the people in the class…the pace was dreadfully slow. And while it was helpful to review the grammar and I did learn some things…I learned at a slow pace. We had a substitute teacher last week, who told me to try out a more advanced level and stop wasting my time. So I did, and I understood everything! The content is similar, but the pace is much faster, we use more advanced vocabulary, and the teacher doesn’t baby us with “It’s okay, Hebrew is a difficult language.” This class also gives the option to take the level 4/Daled exam at the end of the course. Anyone who passes this exam can enroll in Hebrew-speaking university programs. Will I actually enroll in another degree? Who knows. But I’ve arbitrarily decided that passing the ramah daled exam is my goal, and that if I reach that level of language competency, I’ll be satisfied, for now. (If it doesn’t happen at the end of this course, I may pay out of pocket for another class…but I’m going to try and avoid that, if possible.)
Coming to Israel with a job was definitely the smartest thing I did. It was so calming to know I have a steady paycheck, and to already know many of the people in the office. Everyone is really nice, and super patient with me. I get many opportunities to practice my Hebrew, which is also amazing! The time difference with the US is extremely annoying and I still don’t have a permanent workspace in the office, but…לאט לאט slowly slowly, it’s coming together.
The government office/bureaucracy stuff isn’t that bad. Some people are unpleasant, some are very helpful…overall nothing has been traumatic. I actually wait less to see doctors here than in the US! Though maybe that says more about the abysmal state of health insurance/coverage in the US than anything else…I’m still waiting to get my permanent ID card activated, which is the main roadblock I’ve faced. Once that’s settled, I’ll move on to converting my driver’s license. It’s still too early to apply for an Israeli passport, so that’s not even on my radar, yet.
Making new friends is difficult and nerve-wracking. It’s the one area that I haven’t put enough effort into…partly because I now have a boyfriend(!!) and I like spending time with him, so I don’t make as much of an effort to make girlfriends. This is also my way of sneaking in the fact that yes, I have a boyfriend! 🙂
And now…on to the running updates!
There are a few different running groups, but adidas Runners Tel Aviv is probably the biggest. I asked a bunch of people for running group recommendations (my boyfriend, his coworkers, my landlord…) and everyone mentioned adidas Runners. There’s a bit of a waiting list to get in, which was annoying, but I was finally admitted, and it’s definitely worth it! The group does 3 runs a week during the “regular” year, and adds a long run during preparation for the Tel Aviv marathon. There’s also strength training and other classes, but you have to have attended a certain number of workouts in order to participate. So far, I’ve only been to 3 workouts (after 5, I think I get the shirt, which everyone wears to every single workout, so I’m excited to finally receive one). Everyone is very nice, but I haven’t gotten to know anybody yet…in time!
Since this isn’t yet a social outlet, the main benefit is that when I run with a group, I push myself much harder. I don’t take rest breaks! This means that I’m slowly getting a more realistic idea of my actual running paces again. I’m wayyyy off from my PRs. Last week, I ran a 10km race in 57:46…my PR is 49:27. And I ran a half marathon in 2:18, which is my slowest half, to date (PR is 1:52). I’m also more motivated to put in the work, to lower my times. I did it before, so I know I can do it again!
I’m debating whether to run the Tel Aviv Marathon or Half Marathon. Do I want to devote that much time to marathon training? The truth is, I really enjoy half marathons because while I do need to train for the distance…mentally it’s not such a challenge. I know I can do it. But there’s something magical about running a marathon, and overcoming that kind of challenge…when you’re so delirious that your brain basically separates from your body. Tel Aviv is a relatively flat city, which bodes well for a marathon…but the weather can be unpredictably hot, which would be soul-crushing. Also, if I do run another marathon, I want to better my 4:31 time, which means putting in legitimate work, speed training…all of the things I was too lazy to do when training for NYC, and too injured to do when training for Tokyo. But with 3 workouts a week plus strength training (when I’m able to take the classes), I literally just have to show up to addidas Runners workouts.
At this point in my fitness/life, I don’t think I want to run more than one marathon per year. I entered the Berlin Marathon lottery, so if I get in, I may just run the Tel Aviv half, build a strong base, and then start training this summer with the Whippets, when I’m back in NYC. Berlin would be my 2019 marathon, and then I would consider Tel Aviv for 2020. If I don’t win the lottery, I’ll probably run the Tel Aviv marathon.