Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Flowers Part III

I had my oral exam for modern Hebrew this morning. We had to write a dialogue with a partner, memorize it and then preform it for the teacher. The second part of the exam was individual. We had to choose one text in the book and be able to summarize it and answer questions about it. I was very nervous but I think I did okay.

Since I haven't been doing anything exciting lately I have more flower pictures for you. I really can't get over how beautiful the campus looks with all the flowers.

I was playing with the close up mode on my camera for this one. I this flower has the same yellow color I like from the previous flower post.

All the flowers featured in the post line one of the ways that I leave campus. So I get to walk down flower row almost everyday. These flowers come in several different colors.

Here we have the same flowers as above only in purple. I think they look better in purple. I was lucky when taking these pictures there didn't seem to be any bugs flying around. Right now the bugs are everywhere. I guess that last year arriving in the middle of June I missed the bug season. Right now there are lots of gnats and mosquito type bugs flying around. The mosquitoes are the worst if they bite you it swells up and itches like crazy worse than in the states. It's a good thing I brought Benadryl with me.

For those of you that were interested in the post on the Western Wall tunnels I found this article on Yahoo this morning talking about the tunnels. The picture that is in the middle of the article is the claustrophobic tunnel I mentioned in my post on the Western Wall tunnels tour post.

From the last post:
Uncle Joe- You are right it is called Turkish salad. I had been calling it Turkey Salad as a joke and I guess when I was writing the post I just typed the wrong word. I had never heard of lip dubbing before I don't think I will be attending the event anyway. They do sing Hava Nagila here in Israel. I think it might have been one of the songs they taught us last summer but I don't remember.

N.T.- How busy the garden is at any given time is rather hit or miss. The weather has been nicer lately so there have been more people in the garden.  The garden is undergoing some renovations of its pathways and stone staircases so some days its too loud to sit in the garden.

There are several nice smelling flowers here. I love the plant I called lavender in my post titled So it's Spring Now. The bell shaped flowers above also have a nice scent. My favorite smelling flower was blooming back towards the middle of March and the start of April. They were little yellow flowers on a bush that was on the way to school. I never did get a picture of that one though. The national flower of Israel can be seen here.

The tower in the background of the desert garden picture is the Hebrew University tower. I'm not sure what is in the tower. It's one of the landmarks that you can use to oreint yourself when your down in the valley as it can be seen easily. It has also featured in a few other posts of mine I think I've mentioned it to help show where I am in relation to campus. I think it was in the post titled Misadventures in Israel when I was walking to the post office. I think the tower also appears in my post titled Geography of Jerusalem.

The corn chip Doritos in the last post do not taste any different that the ones in the states. However the other flavors of Doritos do taste a little different here they have more oil on them and sometimes you taste the oil more than the flavoring.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May Flowers Part II

The weather here has been pretty nice this week. On a few days we've had a preview of Summer heat, it has reached 80 degrees. It doesn't really affect me since most days I'm in school before the temperature reaches the high for the day and I leave school after it has cooled down a bit.

The next few weeks are going to be busy as the Spring semester winds down. Lots of projects and reading assignments to finish up and of course studying for exams.

I love all the flowers in the garden. When I have time between classes I like going out and wondering in the garden. I'm always finding a new plant that I haven't noticed before. I thought the plant to the right was interesting enough to take a zoomed in picture. I like the shade of yellow on these flowers. Unfortunately this plant makes me sneeze. Even here in Israel I have seasonal allergies.

This picture is from this past Tuesday when Claire and I had lunch in the garden. The view wasn't as hazy as it has been in my earlier pictures.

If you remember from earlier posts the botanical garden has sections that represent the plants from different areas of Israel. I don't think I've posted too many pictures of the desert section. So I took this one, the desert section isn't as pretty as the others. The red spot in the background is one of the people who works in the garden. They are constantly working in the garden. It takes a lot of work to keep all the plants from the varied climates alive.

Now for a little change of pace I've been a little homesick lately. So I decided to self medicate with food. :) The grocery store recently started to stock Doritos corn chips again. I love chips and salsa but I don't have time to make my own salsa. The container next to the chips contains Turkey Salad. Claire was the one that originally found it and told me about it. It is basically salsa it has tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers that add a little kick to it,and various spices. I have no idea why it's called Turkey Salad. It's not from Turkey and it doesn't have turkey in it. Despite the strange name it tastes great. They were training new cashiers this week. The trainee rang up all of my purchases and I had already bagged them up when she hit the wrong button and had to rescan everything. She had already taken a long time to scan in the first place because she was still learning where all the bar codes were, the loaf of bread took forever because it wouldn't scan. Thankfully the trainer rescanned everything very quickly and apologized. I didn't have anywhere I needed to be so I didn't really mind I just thought it was funny. I made some dumb mistakes when learning to work a register.

We take turns buying to toilet paper in our apartment and this week it was my turn. You are looking at a package of 48 rolls of toilet paper. Families here are bigger than in the United States. I think the smallest package of toilet paper you can buy here is 24 rolls. I've seen packages with 96 rolls. The case of toilet paper has its own carrying handle on top. As I've mentioned before most people walk to the grocery store here so they carry everything back. This brand of toilet paper is usually cheaper than the others and comes with the added bonus of red hearts on it. There is another brand that is more expensive that has the outlines of puppies on it. The fun comes when you exit the store and walk down the street towards the student village. You pass by a few cafes that have outdoor seating. People look when a single person is carrying a package of 48 rolls of toilet paper. They probably think I have some horrible disease. Or maybe its just me feeling self conscious about carrying that much toilet paper at once maybe they weren't really looking. But buying the larger package saves having to make more frequent trips to the store.

This picture is actually from earlier today. Claire pointed this sign out to me and I had to take a picture. This is outside the cafeteria at Rothberg. The Mechina program is hosting an event called Lip Dub. Our best guess is this might be karaoke but we're not sure. 

From the last posts:
Uncle Joe- I forget which plants I've already posted pictures out so I might have posted that tree before. I can't comment on the word play in the New Testament as I can't read Greek. In my Biblical Hebrew class we are currently looking at Amos there is some clever word play.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Renewing Your Student Visa

In my post titled Preparing to go to Israel I gave a brief overview on how to obtain a student visa before you come to Israel. The student visa you get in the States will be good for one year and then you will have to renew it. I just renewed my visa this past Thursday.

About a month before your visa expires you need to go to the Ministry of the Interior and make an appointment. They do have a phone number but you will get an appointment faster if you go in person. Your appointment will typically be one  week before you visa expires. If for some reason they give you an appointment that is after the date your visa expires you will need to carry the appointment slip and your passport with you at all times.

To get your visa renewed you will need the following items: your passport, a passport photo,money for the visa(bring exact change),your transcripts,letter from the Vice Provost, your financial report from school,your rental agreement, and proof you can support yourself financially. I did not give the price of the visa because it is subject to change. The school told me one price but when I went to get my visa the price had gone up by 20 NIS.  When you make your appointment they assign you to a booth/cubicle number. Each person that runs these booths is different so they might request some or all of the above documents listed.

The visa I received on Thursday is only good until the end of September, then I will have to go and get another visa. I've been told this is because Israel is trying to crack down on foreign workers. Apparently some people get into Israel on a student visa, sign up for classes and then disappear into the country. This is why you have to give them a copy of your transcripts to prove that you have actually been attending classes. At the end of September you will have paid for and registered for fall classes and that will tell them you are a serious student. I'm not sure how long the visa I get in September will last.

I hope this brief overview of renewing your student visa was helpful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May Flowers

Today I have a long break between the end of modern Hebrew and the start of Archaeology. So I decided to eat lunch out in the garden. Since it was such a pretty day I decided I would wander around and take some pictures. To my surprise I had a furry friend join me in my walk through the garden today. I think she was with the tour group of students that were touring the garden but she found following me more fun.

As usual I don't know the names of most of these plants. The garden is a great opportunity to practice my photography skills.  Its also a great opportunity to practice my avoiding the buzzing bees/ other nasty bugs skills. :)

I loved the color of these flowers. This one was taken with the closeup mode on my camera.

These are the benches next to the tombs from previous posts about the garden. I like that they have let the flowers grow on the steps. I think these flowers are snap dragons but I'm not sure.

These look like peppers. I wonder if they are?

And here we have the one of the greenhouses in the garden.

And now for a little humor. When I went home in February for winter break I got a Mac for a late Christmas present. I started to put some of my photos into the iphoto application. Iphoto is smart and can be taught to recognize faces. I forgot I had a few pictures of the paintings of Jesus from the Holy Sepulchre. My Mac quickly caught on "Is this Jesus?" Yes Mac, yes it is.  I laughed for a good ten minutes over this. My Mac knows Jesus!

That's all I've got for today.  I hope you enjoyed the flowers.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Preparing to go to Israel

I only have a few more weeks left in my Spring sememster. Its getting close to time where prospective students are waiting for their acceptance letters from Rothberg International School. So I'm going to be doing a series of posts to help new students with how to prepare for their study abroad. If you are a prospective student and have a question for me, please feel free to leave a comment to this post. If I don't know the answer to your question I can find someone who does.

Some of your preparations need to start early even before you know if you’ve been accepted or not. For instance check your passport to see if it’s up to date and how many years you have left on it. If you will be studying in the country for more than just a few months you will need to apply for a student visa. In order to get a student visa you have to have at least two years left on your passport.  A passport can take up from 4-6 weeks to process so it's best to start as early as you can especially if you’ve never had a passport because getting the documentation necessary for it can take some time. 

To get a student visa you have to contact your local Israeli consulate. Each consulate serves several states  the one you need may not be in your state. Each consulate requires different documents to issue a visa getting in contact with them early can help. Have all the documents ready but apply for the visa as late as you possibly can they usually take two weeks to process but it varies by consulate. The reason you wait to the last minute is so the visa lasts as long as possible on the other end.  I learned that consulates and embassies have shorter hours than you would expect they are only open from around 9 -3. The Israeli consulate  will not usually answer the phone before 10:15 and stops answering the phones at 12:30. They are closed for Jewish holidays and Saturday for Shabbat. This information on times they answer the phone is about the consulate in Houston, Texas I don't know if it is the same situation for the other consultates.

  The school doesn’t mention vaccines on their website but you might want to consult your primary care physican to see if you are healthy enough for vaccines. There are companies that specialize in travel vaccines there is probably at least one in your area. You tell them where you are going and they do the research to see which shots you need. They will give you a little yellow vaccine card that you need to keep with your passport it is a international accepted medical form that records your vaccines. It's nice to get the vaccines out of the way as soon as possible if you decide to get them. I was left feeling a little under the weather several days after getting the shots.

 Several months before I needed to leave I started a list of all the things I wanted to do, buy , or didn’t want to forget to bring with me.  This helped me stay organized and see what I still needed to have done. I went through the rounds of doctors getting a physical, annual teeth cleaning and got my vision checked. If you wear glasses bring a back up pair with you. I also got my eye doctor to give me a written prescription for my glasses as well just in case something horrible happened to both pairs of lenses. 

Those were some basic tips to get started on for your study abroad. I hope it helped. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Independence Day

Independence day is a happier holiday and is in contrast with yesterday's Memorial Day. According to the email the school sent out there are celebrations all over the city today. Even BBQs and picnics in the local parks. The flag is bought back to full staff again after being lowered yesterday.

This holiday celebrates the day that Israel's independence was declared on the day before the British Mandate was set to expire. The day was  May 14, 1948. This was the first time the Jewish people had a homeland since I think 70 CE when the Romans conquered Jerusalem. Having Memorial day followed by Independence day was done deliberately. I am told that these two days symbolize what it is like the live in Israel. You have great sorrow but also great joy. You can read more about the history of this holiday here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day here in Israel. Memorial day actually began last night at 8pm when the air raid siren sounded for one minute. Memorial day honors military personnel killed in the line of duty as well as victims of terrorists. For the last few weeks Israeli flags have been showing up everywhere. People have flags flying from their car windows and a few students have hung flags outside their windows. The student village has several large flags at both  entrance gates. One large flag on a building on each side of the village.

When I asked an Israeli about this holiday I was told that it is a very special day. Since military service is mandatory in Israel almost everyone has lost some one in the line of duty Or have been touched by a  terrorist attack. As I said Memorial day began last night with a siren, and a ceremony at the Western Wall where the Israeli flag was lowered to half staff. This morning at 11 am the air raid siren sounded again for one minute. When the siren sounds everyone stops even if you are driving. You can see in this video. You don't really need the sound on to view the video all you will hear is traffic and the air raid siren. Not all of the cars stop but a good number of them do.  Today government officials and top military personnel will visit the cemeteries where soldiers are buried. I have been told that this is a very solemn day. I am told that the radio today will only be playing soft more subdued music and the television programing will be solemn as well. I can't confirm this because I don't have access to TV or radio.

Memorial day is always celebrated the day before Independence Day. Independence Day will be the subject of tomorrow's post.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Getting to the Root of it all

I've had the idea for this post for a while now I just haven't had the time or there were posts that needed to be written first. I guess this post will be a continuation of a mini language series since yesterday's post was about Akkadian today we have Hebrew. This post will focus on mainly Modern Hebrew.

Modern Hebrew is a fairly new language you can read a little about its history here. It's hard for me to believe I've been studying Hebrew for almost a year now. One of the things I like about Hebrew is the root system. Each word in modern Hebrew has a three letter root. There are of course some exceptions to this rule but most words have a three letter root. Each root has a meaning so if you see a word you don't know you can guess the meaning if you know what the root means.

For these examples  remember that Hebrew is read from right to left. I know that one word is out of place but you can see where it goes in the table. I can't figure out where I made a mistake in my html code for the table.

to tell a story   לספר
library                ספרייה

The idea of roots having meanings also continues into Hebrew names. Lucky for you my name is Hebrew in origin. Anna written in Hebrew as      אנה   In modern Hebrew this root has several meanings to lament or mourn, to cause to happen, or to meet. If you look in baby name books they will tell you the name means gracious or merciful.

I really like the root system because it does help you figure out the meanings of new words. Of course the other side is there are many roots in Hebrew and its hard to remember them all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hammurabi's Code

Since there seems to be some interest in Akkadian I decided I would give you more of a taste of the language. I think the most famous work written in Akkadian is Hammurabi's Code. I remember studying this in World History in high school. Hammurabi's Code was one of the earliest law codes ever written down. I remember my teacher telling me that the laws were written on a stele in the center of each town so that anyone could come by and read the law. This way everyone would know what the punishment for each crime was there was no arbitrary decision on the part of the judge. What my high school teacher failed to tell us was that most people couldn't read anyway. In fact its very likely the king couldn't read either that is what scribes were for.

In my Akkadian class we've begun to translate parts of the law code and its very slow going. To the left we have the first step. This is Hammurabi's law code number 10 in cuneiform. It is probably best if you click to enlarge the picture so you can really see what the symbols look like. Each symbol can have several different values. For example one sign can mean dam or tam. But there is extra added fun, the Akkadian language was written with Sumerian characters. This would be like me trying to write English with Chinese characters. So sometimes the sign stands for a Sumerian word. Continuing the above example that same sign could also stand for the Sumerian word DAM.GAR which stands for the Akkadian word tamkārum which means merchant. So you look at each individual sign and you have to decide which meaning the each sign has in this sentence. The reason each sign can have different meanings is because Akkadian didn't have an alphabet.

Now that you have decided which meaning each sign has in this sentence you have something that looks like the picture to the right. In between each dash is the meaning of one sign. It can take several hours to arrive at this step. But wait your not done yet the fun continues!

The next step is called normalization. In this step you take the above and put the words together. Here you have to decide if one letter is double or not, sometimes the doubled letter is an indicator of a certain tense. This step also requires you to mark the long vowels which are sometimes the only indication that a word is plural. Since this was my homework assignment I had to type this part up so here is the result of Step 3:

Šumma šayīmānum nādin iddinušum u šībī ša ina maḫrišunu išamu lā itbalam bēl ḫulqima šībī mūde ḫulqišu itbalam šayīmānum šarrāq iddâk bēl ḫulqim ḫuluqšu ileqqe

Now for step 4 translation. The translation of law code number 10 is as follows:"If the purchaser does not produce the seller who sold it to him, and the witnesses in whose presence he purchased it (and) if the owner of the lost property produces witnesses to identify his lost property, the purchaser shall be put to death as a thief, the owner of the lost property shall recover his loss."

Explanation: Law code 10 is a continuation of law 9. Law 9 talks about a man who has lost something and then sees his object in the possession of another man. The second man says that he bought the object and says he can produce witnesses. The matter is brought before a judge so the original owner brings witnesses saying the object is his and the second man brings witnesses saying they saw him buy the object. In this case it is the seller who was the thief and he is put to death. So law 10 is another circumstance of the same crime.

I think that gives you a basic idea of what it's like to study Akkadian. Hope you enjoyed it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day here in Israel. This morning at 10am sirens sounded for two minutes all across Israel. Everyone stopped and stood at attention for those two minutes. Everywhere in the country all activity stopped. Those two minutes were a silent memorial to all those who lost their lives while the Nazis were in power.

This morning Rothberg International school held its own ceremony to remember those lost. Students from the school had volunteered to participate. The ceremony was only thirty minutes long but it was very moving. At intervals during the ceremony six candles were lit I think to symbolize the six million jews who died.

Students read poetry and selections from memoirs of survivors. Several students sang in Hebrew the school provided a program with the translations. It was truly an international ceremony students read their selections in English, Spanish, French, German and Hebrew.

One of Israel's heroines that I have learned about during my studies in Modern Hebrew was Hannah Senesh. I invite you all to learn more about her here. She is also known for her poetry. Some of her poems have been set to music. My favorite is Walk to Caesarea the lyrics to this song can be found at the above link. I don't want to post them for fear of copyright laws. I really like this song so I found a link you can listen to it here

I'm writing this during a break between classes at school. I wanted to get this post up on the actual day of the memorial.