Wow. It has been a very, very long week becoming aquatinted with IDC and fellow first year RRIS (Rafael Recanti International School) and Israeli students. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were full of meeting new students, learning my way around campus (small but still plenty confusing), learning about the Library, ethics and regulations (where they share amazing stories of how people have been caught cheating—items, which I would never have been able to think of), and other things that come with orientation week. Most importantly, of course, is meeting the people we will be studying with for the next three years.
Now, I know, that this is an international school, but I don’t believe I had any idea just how international is. I literally have classmates from Singapore, South Africa, Somalia, all over Europe (including a ton of Italians, Swedes, and French people), South Americans, and even a few Canadians. Walking around campus, you hear every language imaginable, I will probably pick up Swedish by the end of the year.
Everyone from California is from L.A. except for this girl who lives next door, Talya, who made Aliyah and did the army and is from Palm Springs and a couple people from the Bay Area.
Wednesday and Thursday was the Orientation trip to the Negev. We had to arrive at IDC by 7:30 and like all programs in Israel, where they threaten to leave you behind, we left after 8. I was on one of the seven buses with Rebecca, the Swede from next door, with a bus full of people we didn’t know.
We headed towards the Judean Forest where we were met by a tour guide, a British Rachel, and had different team building workshops that involved ropes and teamwork. They were fun and some slightly scary.
After lunch in the Forest we then headed for the Bar Kochba Rebellion caves. It is really eerie to be at these different places with other people besides Year Coursers. After scrounging around on our knees through different tunnels built into the sides of mountains that the Greeks smoked the Jews out of, back in the day, we headed towards a Bedouin Tent close to Arad (where I lived for three months on Year Course). As we drove through Arad, I pointed out my old apartment, and other important landmarks while others looked at me like I was crazy for, ever living in such a place. The truth is that I really miss the adventures that we had there.
As we entered Kifar HaNokdim, the Bedouin Tent, tea, coffee, dried fruit and nuts greeted us. A Bedouin spoke to us about their culture over a lovely cup of tea. Afterwards we were able to shower and relax a little before dinner. Dinner was a delicious spread of different salads, rice, kebabs, laffa and drinks. The dinner company was of course international as well: Danish, Swedish, Singapore, French, Me, and others. There were many birthdays that needed to be toasted for. There most be something about Libras, because there is a ton of us. And I met two other people with my exact birthday, but one is a year younger and the other is two years younger.
Drinking, dancing, bonfire, and the company of new friends kept us busy long into the night.
We woke up at about 6:30 AM to have breakfast, pack up and drive towards Ein Gedi for a hike. Now Ein Gedi is one of the best places in Israel; an oasis in the middle of nowhere, and close to the lowest place in the world—the Dead Sea. It was really hot, even so early in the morning, and we were drinking a ton of water and enjoying the natural springs immensely. It also brought me back to hiking there with Jessica and trekking back to Arad. And when our group became separated from the larger group, no one would listen to me as to which way to go, until I told the counselor to shut up and follow me. He later forgave me when we rejoined everyone else. Once we all refilled our water bottles and loaded the bus we were off to the Dead Sea.
Lunch was at one of those pool/beaches along the shore. There were a ton of different pizzas with amazing toppings; my favorite was with the sautéed onions. If it had thinner crust than it had the potential of being my favorite pizza that I have ever had.
The Dead Sea is always a strange sensation and I somehow, always manage to have some mosquito bites and the bbuuuurrrrnnnnn! After floating for a bit we all just relaxed, and showered up and started the long drive home to Herzliya. It is finally beginning to feel a bit like home.