Yes blog friends, as of today, I have officially lived in Israel for one whole year. Which is crazy because it feels like one second and at the same time feels like I have lived through multiple different lives here in Israel…but none have made me happier than where I am right now. I feel such a genuine sense of joy everyday here in the Holy Land. The past few months especially have really helped me to settle into my new (or not so new anymore!) home. And now, I could not be more excited to celebrate my one year “aliyahversary”.
In honor of my giant twelve month milestone, I am reflecting a little by making some lists of 12 things (because of course, it’s what I do best).
Top 12 Things I Learned in the Past 12 Months:
1. To let things happen and give up a bit of control
2. Not having a plan isnt always the worst thing in the world
3. Take time to appreciate your surroundings
4. Never turn down a sufganiyah (or any Israeli baked good, really)
5. Government office employees are shockingly pleasant and wonderful , if you are pleasant and wonderful first (despite what other people may tell you).
6. Don’t forget to travel/explore
7. Keep lists and hold yourself accountable
8. Hebrew is a WAY harder language than expected
9. Israeli cab drivers will continue to tell you stories in Hebrew after you insist multiple times your Hebrew is not good enough to understand
10. I am in love with Kibbutz life
11. Be open, especially with the people you love
12. Israel is where I am meant to be
Top 12 Most Influential Experiences in the Past 12 Months:
1. Attending Ulpan and (while still being miserable at Hebrew) meeting my best friend. I might not have gotten the stellar Hebrew I was expecting from Intensive Hebrew classes for five months, but what I did get was a life long friend who I couldnt survive here without. Literally. Suzanne has helped me to navigate life in a way that I never could have expected and I am forever grateful for Ulpan Gordon for bringing us together (and attempting to teach us Hebrew….).
2. Finding a synagogue where I can spend Shabbat services every Friday. This may not sound like it should make it on my most influential experience list, but I assure you that ending my week on such a positive note, full of prayer, singing, energy, and joy makes for a very happy and fufilled life here in Israel.
3. Meeting Alon. Like most important aspects of my life here in Israel, this relationship has not only brought me an immense amount of happiness but also taught me a lot about myself as a person. Alon has helped me to put things in prospective, hold onto the right priorities in life, open up and be honest, and to genuinely enjoy every moment. So thank you to the fates for bringing us together, and thank you to Alon for being the most wonderful and loving soul.
4. Starting over. In February, over the course of literally a few weeks, my life in Israel did a complete 180. I ended a relationship, moved out of my apartment, and quit my job. I essentially started things completely new, after seven months of living here. Although all of that change and some negative feelings were hard to deal with at the time…I came out the other side SO much happier for it. And I dont think I would appreciate everything I have now quite as much without seeing what I had first. Things always work out for the best, it’s just nice to have living proof of it.
5. Living alone. In the same breath as above, I now live alone. To be honest, it’s mildly terrifying to think about living alone in a place where you dont speak the language well, dont understand the systems in place, and cant figure out how to pay a bill. But, it was the best decision I ever could have made. I needed a space that felt truly mine in order to really feel settled here, and now I most certainly do.
6. Finding Ale and Zsofi. These girls are always up for an adventure, whether its trying new restaurants, going to the beach or perhaps even running a marathon in Bulgaria…my life wouldnt be half has interesting or fun without them. It’s so important to have people you can count on when living in a new place, and they are always there for me no matter what. My life here in Israel is indisputably better because they’re in it.
7. Having my family come visit. It was the most amazing experience to share the place I love with my family. I won’t go into too much detail here because I have an entire lengthy blog post about it, but having my parents and nana come see Israel was extremely impactful for me (and I hope them as well!). In fact, I am counting down the days until they come back (and until I can convince them to move here and live on a Kibbutz with me ;))
8. Watching my mom and nana at the Western Wall. Piggybacking off the above, being able to bring my mom and nana to the Western Wall and watch them put their prayers inside, hit me as one of the most important experiences in Israel. To know that because of my Aliyah, three generations of Karp women came to the holiest place on Earth and got to experience the Western Wall together is incredible. It was so touching and wonderful, and I couldnt be more thankful.
9. Finding a spot in the local park. This may seem tiny and non-consequential but having a favorite spot in the beautiful Israeli nature has brought me a whole lot of peace and perspective during this past year. With all the things that have happened in my life, both good and not so good, it’s nice to have a peaceful place to reflect. It’s also a great place to study, learn Hebrew, or just sit and read a book. I had my favorite spot in a park in Boston so it felt very homey to find the same here.
10. Traveling for the first time with an Israeli passport. This was possibly one of the most exciting things because I felt so totally official. People automatically speak to me in Hebrew and with just a glance, everyone knows I am an Israeli citizen. I am so proud to be Israeli and the passport just lets everyone know. (Plus, having two passports, means I can always go in the local biometric passport line, which takes approximately 10x less time than the foreign passport line….so its a total win win).
11. Celebrating the (high) holidays in Israel. This is something Ive dreamed of (ummm, hello “Next year in Jerusalem”) and now it finally came true. I got to spend the Jewish holidays where they were meant to be celebrated. Being at an Israeli synagogue in a place where everyone recognizes the importance of these days was truly inspiring. Usually, I have to take a vacation day from work and life goes on as normal without me. But here, everyone takes notice and its just a wonderful reminder that this is the Jewish homeland, and I’m now a part of it.
12. Hitting my one year mark! I’m so beyond excited to have made it to my one year mark and I’m proud to say I love it here more than ever. I have had my ups and downs, as is expected in any major life transition, but I wouldnt change any of it for the world. This is exactly where I’m meant to be for this year and many years to come (:
Thanks to everyone who helped me get to this point! 365 days down and a million more to go!!!