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So I managed to get sick, in time for my birthday… making this the seventh (7th) consecutive year in a row I have been ill on or around my birthday (Feb. 7). Outstanding. But, that said, this post is meant to provide a bunch of small and partially related updates that cover a variety of topics. Also, I would love people’s feedback on what I have to say. I haven’t ever posted comments to a WordPress blog myself, but some people already have, so it cannot be too difficult or complex to do.

First, an explanation of the title of this post. I recently was better educated on the hows and whys of how my Hebrew education is progressing. Specifically, our weird 2 different teachers/different times every day/different classrooms every day stems from a teacher’s strike at Hebrew University at the end of last year. Since they weren’t teaching, the students of the fall semester had an extra portion of vacation, but it also means that now, all the teachers who do Winter Ulpan for the Rothberg international students are also finishing up courses from a semester ago at the same time. My meaning by the title applies only to the students: whereas right now we have anywhere between 2 and 4.5 hours of class on a given day, the storm of Ulpan approacheth… next week, we have a few solid weeks of 8am-1pm Ulpan every day 😦 I suppose thats healthier for the professors though; no more schizophrenic schedule for them, and a chance to make sure we are learning what they are teaching.

Another weird quirk of the Hebrew language is that while it is similar to French/Spanish (it has gendered words, which affects sentence construction and so forth), the numbers are actually gendered as well. So, telling the teacher that there are “5 bananas” utilizes an entirely different spelling of “five” than if it were a masculine word. I don’t know about you – my favorite way to learn a language is to package as many complexities and exceptions to rules as possible into a textbook, and then enact “Operation: (Learning Hebrew) Trial by Fire.” 🙂

The two Korean students (Ji Hyoung and Kim-mi) in my class are also quite amazing in what they manage to do. They speak only a very small amount of English, and the professors each speak a fair amount of English (and no Korean). So the presupposed common language between teacher and student isn’t all that shared, so my hat is off to them. Any complaints I might have about the difficulty of this language are pretty much invalidated by this anecdote. So the above paragraph is meant to say that I am thoroughly and completely enjoying Ulpan.

On a completely different note, a short update on the political situation here. First of all, I am told that one of the candidates running for Prime Minister actually came and sat on Hebrew University’s campus, and took questions from whichever students came by and had them. This is outstanding in my opinion; although the US Congress is supposedly operated according to the will of the American people, it is probably very, VERY rare for anyone in a national office to come and actually sit down with their constituents and chat. This is partially a function of Israel being so small geographically, but at the same time seems to be a very good indicator that the Israeli people are an integral component of the way some of their governmental decisions work. Another candidate (neither of their names are occurring to me at present) took an entirely different approach. He hired multiple citizen supporters to attach Israeli flags, his image, and speakers blaring campaign advertisements to their vans and trucks, and then they spend a good amount of their day cruising the streets, literally spreading the word. Yet another approach I witnessed was simple banners being held by supporters in small plazas near main roads. In this case, there was another huge difference from the US. There were armed police officers waiting around those citizens, and they were adamant that the furl up their signs/banners at exactly 1:00pm sharp. I know that such supporters sometimes need a permit in the US, but are not usually so carefully monitored by armed, grim looking police officers (this was no radical party either – the people looked like they would fit right in to a suburb in many parts of the US).

I have decided to keep the political and academic updates in this post; the next post will deal with other delectable tidbits of detail.

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