I need to be better updating! It is super busy here but I will try my best to update as much as I can. (Which might end up being every weekend....) So here are some things to update on...
The flight: it wasn't as bad as I thought! I slept a little bit but mostly just talked and read. They fed us dinner and breakfast, which was much better than frozen dinners. There was also food always available. We got to Tel Viv before I was mentally even ready. It was SOOOO weird landing into the city though. It looks like a city but just different - more Near Eastern. Everything is written in Arabic with English next to it. The bus ride to Jerusalem was killer though.I got SO motion sick.
My roommates: At first I was a little nervous because everyone was so quiet when we first met but then we moved into the room and I must admit, they are all really awesome! Their names are SaraBeth, Sarah Bradshaw, and Emilie. Sara Beth is a returned missionary from San Diego and Emilie is engaged. I haven't talked too much to Sarah but most of her family has been to Jerusalem before - her cousin is actually here with her. They are all really friendly and willing to share already! I love it!
JERUSALEM: One word - BREATHTAKING!!! I love it here SO much!!! We live on top of a "Mountain" commonly known as Mount Scopus or the Mount of Olives. It overlooks the city which is amazing. The center is located in the East side of Jerusalem which is the Palestine side - so it is dominated by Muslims. It is surprisingly dirty and a little bit scary to be honest. Then there is the West side of Jerusalem which is also known as Modern Jerusalem - this is the Jewish side. It is very clean and has a European feel to it (not that I know...) Here is the coolest part though - OLD JERUSALEM! It is almost like walking back in time! Now it is still modern but you go through these small streets that are made of cobblestone (some even date back to Roman time) with shops lining the sides. (Random note - shop owners here LOVE us! They handed out business cards to us and would say things like "Welcome Mormons," BYU!," or even "Go Cougars!" Probably the coolest part of Old Jerusalem is walking through the places that Jesus walked. Seriously... it is amazing! We walked through the trail? (I'm not sure what it is called) where Christ carried his cross. Oh I can't wait to go back and learn more about it.
Everyone here is so nice! There are some people who are easier to talk to than others but I am sure we will all get to know each other soon. It feels like we have already known each other for a long time - I can NOT wait to see how close we will all become by the end of the experience.
One thing that I did not expect was the shock I have felt being in a new country. For some reason, I thought the culture shock wasn't going to be that big and yet I feel like I am on a whole different planet. I think it is a great learning experience for me, especially as a teacher (working with multi-education). It is different to feel like the minority and almost defenseless, not knowing the language but I am sure it will be better once I become more acquainted with things. CRAZY story!! Some guy tried to scam us in the city yesterday. He started taking us a tour and then demanded money afterwards. I had no idea that kind of stuff happened but now I know! It was a great learning experience but I felt awful afterwards.
Well, that is all for now!!! Let me know if have any questions!!!