Tasting the Rainbow: Tales of a Curious Skittle

The travels, explorations, and musings of a humble college student.

Next stop: New York City and New Orleans!

Hello all! 

I hope you’re ready for a new adventure, because I certainly am! This summer I’ll be traveling to New York City and New Orleans, the former of which I have always been near but never really had a chance to explore, and the latter of which I have never been to before. 

Since Israel, I have actually been to Mexico and South Korea, but I mistakenly neglected to capture my experiences in this blog. :( Summer is a time of renewed vows and resolve though, so I am hereby reviving this traveling tumblr. 

Leaving Michigan tomorrow bright and early at 7 am-let the adventures begin! 

So happy to be tasting all sorts of colors again. :) See you all in the Big Apple! 

Until next time, Israel!

Tomorrow, at 10:40 am, I am officially flying out of Israel on El Al. This is the biggest understatement in the world, but what a whirlwind of an experience this summer has been! 

As someone who is neither Jewish nor connected to Israel in any way, I really had NO idea whatsoever about anything when I first came. Now, I can you tell you about Jerusalem and all of the other places I managed to visit during my stay here, a little bit about the political and educational system here, an overview of the colorful religious scene here, and much, much more than I ever thought I would know! 

More than the materialistic things I enjoyed here (the FOOD, the trips, the places, etc.), I really just want to give a shout-out to all of the wonderful, amazing people I’ve had the privilege of meeting this summer. You are some of the most passionate, curious, brilliant, and caring people I know, so I hope that many of you will keep in touch! 

In this blog, I hoped to at least somewhat capture my experiences here, but I really don’t think I could ever express everything accurately either verbally or through the written word. I can only wrap up by saying that Israel is one of the most genuine places I have ever been in: genuine both in how much the country is grounded in reality and genuine in the incredible sincerity of its people.

Thank you to everyone who made this summer an unforgettable one. Though I don’t know when I’ll be back next, rest assured that this is by no means a permanent goodbye! 

Until next time, Israel! And as for this blog, until the next time I travel, which will hopefully be soon! :)

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

As a last trip in Israel, my friend Rachel (fellow Yalie) and I decided to take a trip to Beit She’an, which is the largest excavation site in Israel. Beit She’an is one of the oldest cities in Israel and it went through a fascinating history: first, it was conquered by the Egyptians, then the Romans took it over, followed by the Byzantines. Later, it was destroyed by an earthquake and its ownership changed a couple of times again. Most of what we saw were gorgeous, gorgeous Roman and Byzantine architecture. It was absolutely stunning: 

The Roman Amphitheater:

Magnificent Palladius St.: 

Broken columns:

They say that going to Beit She’an is like taking a journey through time. This was a true statement. It was so strange, in a goose-bumpy, almost eerie kind of way to walk through something this old. It was like crossing some invisible line to another world, an ancient world. When I tried to picture Romans walking down the same streets that I was, when I tried to see in my mind’s eye the number of spectators sitting in the amphitheater during a gladiator match-I really couldn’t. But I what I could experience was this stillness in the air, almost as if it was heavy with all of the history that had transpired at Beit She’an. It was similar to the feeling I had at Masada, of entering something that has preserved itself. Even though Beit She’an exists now as a tourist site, I can still somehow FEEL what it must have once been like, despite not being able to picture that visually.

This was an absolutely FASCINATING last experience in Israel and I am so glad we decided to take the trip! 

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

I can’t believe today was the last day of internship. I’ll really miss going to the 4th floor of 14 Hillel St. everyday and seeing all of the amazing people I work with. Today was the perfect ending to my internship, starting with an overall assessment report that I gave in front of all of the staff. It was so cool to be able to present 6 weeks worth of feedback to everyone and to actively make a difference in PT! It just speaks to PT’s uniqueness that I was able to do this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. :D 

Before leaving, the PT staff threw a goodbye party for both me and Shira (the Global Institute coordinator). As always, we laughed and ate and said nice things (and of course teasing jabs in a joking sort of way) about each other, because that’s just how PT rolls. :D I also received a gift: a copy of Startup Nation! This is not only the most fitting gift ever, but also exactly what I needed because I have a long plane ride ahead of me! It was so hard to leave, with everyone chorusing goodbyes and giving hugs. In the end though, I walked out to the smiling faces of all the staff, which is a heartwarming memory I will keep forever. :) 

To celebrate, my friend and I went to Tel Aviv, which was just the beginning of my weekend adventure. It was really nice to go back to the beach one final time (especially because the jellyfish season is now over). Though I won’t be back in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea for a while, this is by no means a permanent goodbye! I can’t wait until the next time I catch that gorgeous signature sunset. :) 

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

HAPPY August! 

For the first time in forever and a half, I played tennis!!! I met someone at the Mitt Romney talk on Sunday, who happened to share a lot of the same interests as me (including tennis). He took me to courts by the Malcha Mall, which is the biggest shoppign mall in Jerusalem! Although I figured out I’m so out of shape, playing tennis again really brought it all back and now I really want to get back into practice! It’s so easy to forget your hobbies once you get sucked into the exciting life of school, friends, etc., but I’m going to make sure that I play tennis at least once a week now! For any Michigander friends reading this, y’all should be getting ready to play ball. :D 

After working out in the sun, we treated ourselves to a delicious brunch at this placed on Emek Rafa’im (the German Colony) called Luciana. I’ve actually never had an omelet in a restaurant before, so this was a pleasant first experience:

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Today I wrapped some things up, quite fitting seeing as how it’s the last day of July. :)

In the morning, I finished helping the person whom I was working with earlier on his business article summary and PPT. Although it’s been a somewhat long and tedious process, ultimately I’m really proud of him for being able to understand everything! :DD I’m glad to have contributed (I think PT really helped me understand some parts of the article because it was very relevant to what I did this summer) and I wish him the best of luck!

At actual work, I’m in the process of finishing up my initial building of the intranet that I’ve been working on with one of my mentors. 

At home, Tom (apartment-mate) and I started cleaning out the fridge and we made good use out of all the veggies left in the fridge (homemade falafel sandwiches)! :D 

I can’t believe it’s all ending soon, but until then, full speed ahead! 

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Every week, we have a staff meeting from 12 to 1:30 pm. Today, along with the meeting, the PT staff had a little goodbye for me as well. I’m technically leaving on Thursday (so no sentimental gushing until then), but it’s become sort of a tradition to do these things during staff meetings. We had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (cookie dough and this flavor called Dulce de Leche with fudge) and it was just a heartwarming, lovely goodbye! I’m so happy to have worked with each and every one of PT’s amazing staff this year. These are some of the most passionate, brilliant, and dedicated people you will meet, so I am so happy that *I* of all people got to meet and work with each and every one of them! :))

Today was also the birthday of our office manager: Elinor (MAZAL TOV ELINOR!!!), so we all went out to lunch at this sushi place near PT to celebrate. 

I still can’t believe it’ll all be ending soon! Time to make my last week in Israel count! Updated to-do list: 

  • Go to Haifa, a beautiful city up in the north
  • Visit Yad Vashem, the state-run Holocaust Museum
  • Eat Sabich, which is pita stuffed with fried egg plant and hard-boiled eggs (Doesn’t that sound delicious?!)
  • Go clothes shopping
  • Go souvenir shopping
  • Cook a full meal
  • Go to one of the settlements
  • Visit a kibbutz 
  • Go to salsa dancing lessons
  • Learn more Hebrew
  • Visit the Diaspora Museum
  • See a play in one of the famous Jerusalem theaters

Not sure if I’ll end up doing everything, but I’m ready to make the most of my remaining time here! :) 

Sunday, July 29th, 2012:
Tonight I saw Mitt Romney give a speech at the windmill in the beautiful, upscale area overlooking the Old City called Yemin Moshe. This was a small, low-key gathering and I was only able to go because Adi Arbel kindly invited me as a supporter of his venture, AIM teams. 
Romney said all the right things (complimenting Israel as a democracy, we need to do something about Iran, U.S. and Israel are similar, so the U.S. will always stand by Israel, etc.) but his speech seemed somehow too fluent, too well practiced. Nevertheless, I did feel like he was a very charismatic person and he just LOOKS like an honest, open dude, which is important, of course, for a presidential candidate. For me, I mostly found it exciting that I got to be so close to one of the presidential candidates and it was also my first time at any sort of speech like that. Only in Israel do these things happen. Yet another plus during my time here! :) 

Sunday, July 29th, 2012:

Tonight I saw Mitt Romney give a speech at the windmill in the beautiful, upscale area overlooking the Old City called Yemin Moshe. This was a small, low-key gathering and I was only able to go because Adi Arbel kindly invited me as a supporter of his venture, AIM teams. 

Romney said all the right things (complimenting Israel as a democracy, we need to do something about Iran, U.S. and Israel are similar, so the U.S. will always stand by Israel, etc.) but his speech seemed somehow too fluent, too well practiced. Nevertheless, I did feel like he was a very charismatic person and he just LOOKS like an honest, open dude, which is important, of course, for a presidential candidate. For me, I mostly found it exciting that I got to be so close to one of the presidential candidates and it was also my first time at any sort of speech like that. Only in Israel do these things happen. Yet another plus during my time here! :) 

Saturday, July 28th, 2012:
OLYMPICS ALL DAY, ERRRRRRRDAY. :))))))))))))
So far, following swimming and gymnastics intensely, mixed in with some beach volleyball and tennis. It looks like many Olympic giants are being challenged this year (e.g. Michael Phelps). Should make things interesting! :)
Aaah, I love this time of year. Oh and teams I’m rooting for? Naturally the USA and China. :)
Photo credit: http://decanter.media.ipcdigital.co.uk/11150%7C0000026ca%7C872e_olympic-logo.png

Saturday, July 28th, 2012:

OLYMPICS ALL DAY, ERRRRRRRDAY. :))))))))))))

So far, following swimming and gymnastics intensely, mixed in with some beach volleyball and tennis. It looks like many Olympic giants are being challenged this year (e.g. Michael Phelps). Should make things interesting! :)

Aaah, I love this time of year. Oh and teams I’m rooting for? Naturally the USA and China. :)

Photo credit: http://decanter.media.ipcdigital.co.uk/11150%7C0000026ca%7C872e_olympic-logo.png

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Today was the ending of two things, and the beginning of another! 

In the morning, we had our Closing Ceremony for the Fellows. We handed out certificates in the following manner: Shira called up the first Fellow and said a few words about him, then that Fellow said nice things about the next Fellow receiving a certificate, until every Fellow had received a certificate. THIS WAS THE CUTEST THING EVER. :)))) There was so much good will and love in the room! The Fellows really became one group and supported each other throughout. I hope everyone-both PT staff and PT Fellows-will keep in touch! I’ll miss everyone!

Tonight, we had our last Yalies in Israel event. The person who coordinates these events rented an apartment in Rechavia (in Jerusalem) and we all came together for a final Shabbat dinner. Before eating the delicious catered food (which I will describe soon-don’t worry :p), I decided to go to Orthodox Shabbat services with some of the other Yalies. I had never been to any services in Jerusalem before, so I decided it was high time I went on this little adventure. I’m so glad I went! Even though I didn’t understand any of the Hebrew, the experience was priceless. First, I found the synagogue itself very interesting: it was Orthodox, so men and women were separated by a curtain. However, it was also egalitarian, so women led most of the services. Evening services were divided into three parts. It was mostly beautiful singing mixed with a little bit of verbal and silent prayer. As I sat there, listening to everyone else harm in synchrony around me, I really caught a glimpse into what it means to be religious. More than just following traditions (that are seemingly strange and idiosyncratic to outsiders like me, I might add), it’s about a sense of community. I really felt that tonight and I’m not even Jewish! It was the most peaceful and thought-provoking environment-an experience like no other. 

Our Shabbat dinner itself was just the best thing. We ordered all the food from a fancy catering company called Naomi’s. Before eating, we (and by we I mean all the Jewish people while I just looked around and enjoyed the Hebrew songs :D) sang our own Shabbat songs (the ones that are usually sung at Slifka) and this time, I really did feel a part of something bigger: the Yale family! It was so cute to see everyone together and to enjoy a meal together without the disturbance of phones or the Internet. And the food? Too many mouthwatering goodies to fit into my stomach! The menu: two salads, pita with three different kinds of hummus (I most enjoyed the spicy one :D), ravioli, zucchini pancakes, vegetable samosas, lasagna, and quiche. As if all that weren’t enough, READ WHAT WE HAD FOR DESSERT: chocolate mousse cake (I definitely died and went to chocolate heaven), rugelach, grapes, watermelon, lychee, figs, and baklava. 

Although it was sad to say goodbye to both the Fellows and some Yalies, I also mentioned that something new is starting: the 2012 London Olympics!!! OMG most people probably don’t know this, but I am OBSESSED with the Olympics. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!! (And the odds be ever in all of my favorite athletes’/countries’ (and YOUR favorites if you care) favors. :D)

Shabbat Shalom and HAPPY OLYMPICS!!!!!!!!! :)))))))