By Palina Mahilina, a student of MA program in Child Development, 2016-2017 Cohort.
Confuse me more
Studying at the University of Haifa is a good opportunity to develop your brain not only by listening to great professors, but also just by living in the country and trying to get around.
If you have chosen to study in Israel you are probably aware of the fact that Hebrew uses a specific alphabet, and moreover, reading and writing is from right to left. But numbers and number intervals are written from left to right. Yes, it simply adds confusion to the fact that Friday and Saturday is your new weekend time.
Being in Israel is like trying to solve unending riddle of the language. Of course, if you are very easy-going and open, you will quickly learn to ask people around. Most of the people do speak English on this or that level, including children (I was recently asked by a child to help to reach Pringles from the upper shelf in the supermarket when he realised I do not respond to requests in Hebrew and do not pay attention to him at all).
Probably, you will also learn to stop buses just to ask where they are going like many locals do. If the languages you speak include also Russian, there is no opportunity to be lost. At all.
Attentiveness is your new power
No matter that I speak both and some other, I’m simply shy to start conversation with a stranger. Therefore, I would like to share my way survival skills.
One of the first thing you will notice – all the street names are written in three languages – Hebrew, Arabic and English. But of course, google maps make the life very easy: the bonus is public transport routes with the names of the stops written in Latin.
And when speaking about bus stops, please notice the yellow signs – The bus stops have a yellow stand with the name of the stop, and what are the main directions of the buses. Technion and University of Haifa are important places, so you will find references to them almost everywhere. It’s done in English and in Hebrew, so if you can’t read this side, just look at the other.
It’s fun to try to learn some Hebrew. I felt quite annoyed by the fact, that I don’t know what is the name of the supermarket where I go. Feels like you are 4 again and have no idea about all those letters!
I strongly recommend memrise.com for those who share my feelings – http://www.memrise.com/course/1031737/hebrew-duolingo/. It’s your starting point, from where gradually you include Hebrew course on duolingo.com. While these courses are not the one that will help you with speaking, but they will help you to feel more comfortable with the environment as soon as you start learning. It may be a bit challenging when you begin, but will get a lot easier as you learn.
And to have a good laugh about life Israel and also learn some words from everyday Hebrew I recommend Renny Grinshpan’s videos on facebook , or if you want to pronounce challenging sounds from Hebrew , check Mivtaim https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSYubVq8BuY&list=PLfwqVVFqlT1v0tS9hhTg7kL1cUVyO4oFY
Of course you will not speak Hebrew as a native, but you will get the respect from your Israeli friends, and can show off forever when you leave Israel for good.
And… if you are tired – just use google translate app that recognizes and translates words on the photos you make. Enjoy your stay!
Good luck – בהצלחה!