By Erin Philips, WUJS Participant
When I first decided to join WUJS, I was a little concerned about how I was going to fill my time in Israel. I was leaving a full-time job, family, boyfriend and friends back in the United States, and even though I knew I would have an internship, a weekly program tour, and a weekly arts track activity, I was worried there was still going to be a lot of blank space in my schedule. Although some of this free time was part of the incentive for coming – I was looking forward to working on my writing portfolio – I’m someone who likes to be busy.
Needless to say, I shouldn’t have worried. While there was plenty of time to hang out during the first few weeks of orientation and while I was settling in to my new life in Tel Aviv, I soon found myself with more things I wanted to do than there were hours in the day. This past month (my third in Israel!) has been a whirlwind of activity. To give you an idea of the wealth of things to see, do, and experience, here is a summary of what I’ve been up to lately:
* Arts & Culture – I saw the Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company’s newest show “Dust,” an amazing contemporary dance performance incorporating light, sound, animation, and props at the Suzanne Dellal Center. I joined a group of fellow sketchers at a Drink & Draw class with a live nude model at a DIY arts and craft studio in Jaffa. I went on a Jane’s Walk tour of art galleries and street art in the industrial warehouse district of south Tel Aviv, and went to a Tel Aviv Arts Council screening of the classic Israeli comedy Givat Halfon Eina Ona. On an arts track visit to the Eretz Israel Museum, I saw a textile show and an exhibition of astonishing nature photography put together by London’s Museum of Natural History and the BBC Worldwide.
* Parties – I danced until 3 a.m. on my first visit to a Tel Aviv nightclub (I’m not a huge partier which is why it took me so long to experience a little bit of “the city that never sleeps”), and went to something called a “Universal Unicorn Rave” in a hostel where everyone had dreadlocks. I was definitely out of my element.
* Holidays (in Israel there is at least one a week) – I observed Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) by going to a ceremony for fallen olim (immigrants) who had joined the Israeli army. On Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) I went to a BBQ for internationals and met English-speakers from all over the world living in Israel.
* Travel – Two other WUJIES and I went on a three-day trip to Eilat (a resort town at the tip of the Red Sea) and Jordan (a spectacular, awe-inspiring country). In Jordan we had a private tour guide and stayed in his family’s Bedouin style camp in Wadi Rum, a protected area in the middle of the desert. We went on a jeep tour that included rock climbing, sandboarding and a lot of tea-drinking, had a sunset camel ride, ate a traditional feast cooked under the sand, and slept in tents. The next day we spent four hours exploring the ancient city of Petra, which is as amazing as everyone says it is. I bored my family with endless photos of rock and sand vistas, but the Jordanian desert is stunning.
* Agriculture – I went to a commercial beekeeping farm in Caesarea and learned about beekeeping, Colony Collapse Disorder, and the honey-making process. Over our 10-day program break, my WUJS best friend and I WWOOFed, i.e. we volunteered on an organic family farm in the Negev desert for a week, which was an exhausting, rewarding, and eye-opening experience.
So far I’m having an inspiring, challenging, incredible time living abroad. Sleep will have to wait!