Friday, January 30, 2009

The Final Highlights

Since there's just too much that's gone down in the last few days you are just going to have to deal with the reader's digest version, so bear with me. Yesterday we hit up the Karnak and Luxor temples, which really were incredible. There is so much history crammed into those places that it blows your mind. Here's a view of the Karnak temple, and it really only shows a sliver of what's there.
The Luxor temple was equally astounding, and I finally got to apply some of that art history knowledge from high school. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside when something from high school proves useful. After the temple expeditions, a group of us went out to the Bazaar again...this time with Bryan as our bodyguard. We even made friends with a kid who worked at our hotel and took a ride on the little community buses just like locals. We were legit baby...2 legit 2 quit haha.

The end of the day was quite possibly one of the lowest points of my life here in the Jeru program. We spent the night on an overnight train and I actually slept in a bed that's been used by who knows what. I couldn't have stomached it had I not been under the influence of benadryl. This was my face before the drugs took effect.

Today made considerable improvement with the Hard Rock Cafe. Aside from eating the most delicious burger, fries, and chocolate pudding this side of hemisphere, we also got to rock out with the Hard Rock Cafe crew. Here's Stefanie and I lookin REAL hard core.

Another day found us at the Muhammad Ali Mosque where I saw some of the most beautiful lights and windows of my life. I love that it you can feel the spirit in sacred places of different religions. It just makes God all the more real. Here's a group of us just outside the mosque. Basically, I love Egypt!!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kings, Camels, and Bizarre....I mean Bazaar

Life in Egypt just doesn't slow down. Today was spent between the Valley of Kings (where I saw King Tut!), a few ancient temples, and my personal favorite...the camel safari! There is some incredible symbolism in the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and I found myself wishing I knew more about the symbols in our own LDS temples, but all in good time I suppose.
On our way to the camel safari I snapped a few pictures of the Nile from our felucca, which is consequently gorgeous and disgusting all at once. The camels were pretty great, and I got to learn about the local village of Barad. The camel ride must have been inhibiting my brain function though because I ate some sugar cane handed to me by a local. Oh well, no parasites so far.

Finally, we finished the day off with a trip to the bazaar. This was definitely the most culturally shocking experience of Egypt by far. Walking down the road shopkeepers come out ready to weasel every egyptian pound they can out of you. Everyone wants a piece of the gullible white kids. It was definitely a different way of shopping. Overall though, a good learning experience. The best part of the day was this sunset though.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pyramid Play

Today was yet another experience overload. We did and saw so much that it would take me forever to recap it all. Firstly, started the day off right with an arm wrestling match against Stefanie. Unfortunately we were both too lame to finish and had to call it a draw. But for a few seconds there I felt like I was kind of famous. Haha. The rest of the day was spent bus riding all over Cairo. The first stop was just one of the seven world wonders, dun dun dun, the Giza Pyramids. I remember studying them intensely in Mrs. Brough's 10th grade world history class. This lady had a mummified cat in her room, so you can imagine her enthusiasm about pyramids. She'd be so proud to see me now...

Our next stop was a papyrus store where the majority of us spent way too much money on overpriced papyri. I couldn't afford the egyptian calendar one that I wanted, so I took a picture since it was free. :-) Got bored waiting on the bus after and decided I needed a picture with boys in them since no one believes I make friends with guys. Here's Jacob and J.J., what studly men eh? Then we headed to Zoser's step pyramid and ruins next. There was some incredible hieroglyphics and columns, but Moon, Jess, Stef, and I got too distracted attempting to pose as cingular bars. Who's idea was that anyway?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kickin It In Cairo

I'm so tired and dizzy that I'm pretty sure I could sleep for days. But the Jeru Program doesn't stop for sleep deprivation. Most of the day was spent on the bus, but don't let that deceive you. The Mark bus kept it real with catch phrase, big booty, and my new personal favorite, contact. Definitely the most entertaining bus ride I've ever been on. Border control was a decently speedy process, and we even snuck a contraband picture by the Egypt sign. We are such rebels. By the time we got to our hotel in Cairo, we were pretty starved. Scarfing down food, I decided that I was thirsty enough to pay $2 for a bottle of water since you can't drink anything from the tap there. So here's me showing off my water bill. The best part came after dinner when we decided to spice up our dull hotel with the biggest dance party the Oasis Hotel has ever seen. Bell hops were taking pictures of the crazy americans, chinese hotel guests were looking at us disapprovingly, and we even got one of them to join the party. While sever dehydration was almost certainly a problem since there are no drinking fountains, we found enough energy to party it up anyway. Every day is a party with the Jeru group.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Viva La Egypt

Today has been one long dizzy ride, and we're only halfway there. There were so many historical sights we stopped at that my head is still spinning. It was still a good time though. We had the privelege of wearing hard hats whilst in Beer-sheba, which was consequently in missile range from Gaza. Then we stopped at a national park (the name escapes me) where we had WAY too much fun taking pictures. Here's just a taste....

Lunch was spent looking out over the Wilderness of Zin, which was basically incredible. Standing at the overlook makes you feel like you're about to be swallowed by the world. The second one is of me and Sharon, who is pretty much hilarious and amazing all wrapped into one. Oh and I got pretty tight with the national park mascot as well. Look at me make friends!

The culminating event of the day however, was definitely the kibbutz. A kibbutz is a predominantly Jewish community that basically lives like a zionist/socialist lifestyle. Everyone that works, eats, sleeps, and helps provide for the community. Once they explained it to us and layed out a wonderful feast, we stuffed our faces. Now everything is always "In the spirit of Kibbutz" when we share things. They also have a strange affinity for cows at the kibbutz. Everything smells like cow and there's cow statues all over the place. Needless to say, we had a little too much fun. We finished the night off playing a seriously intense game of electricity with at least 40 people and yet another dance party. Overall, way too much for one day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

So Long For Now

So this is going to be the last post for a week y'all. I've got a week of Egypt ahead of me, and unfortunately internet connection is looking sketchy. I know you will all die of boredom without my updates, but just hang in there. I'll try and make this post extra entertaining...which means pictures again. But first, I've just got to hit the highlights of the past few days. This week we did so many cool things. It's amazing how much time you can spend not doing homework with the belief that you are still going to pass. I guess we'll see how that works out for me by the end. Anywho, Wednesday we got to go to the Kotel Tunnels, which are beneath East Jerusalem. It was incredible to see walls built by these Jews still standing, albeit the Romans crushed a good amount of it. I felt like I was on Indiana Jones at Disneyland, but way better because there was no cheesy Harrison Ford dummy narrating the adventure. We had an AMAZING tour guide who basically couldn't give us enough information. I loved every second of it. Then we got to meet back outside the wailing wall, which is not to be eclipsed by the tunnels. This is the place where, for hundreds of years, Jews have gone to worship since they are not permitted to pray any closer in the city. Basically, it's incredible.

Not to be outdone by the tunnel field trip, thursday afternoon was spent catching sights in East Jerusalem including Dormition Abbey with the Tomb of Mary and a Holocaust Memorial. Annie was our fearless leader, and we had one of the most productive sightseeing days yet.

Finally, we got an 'almost' free-day on friday. After one class, we headed out to West Jerusalem where we had a great time elbowing our way through markets. The market was packed full of people, food, and culture. I loved it. I even found myself a bag of pretzels for 7 shekels to go with my newfound love of Nutella...which is definitely bad news for my health. Oh well.

The festivities of the week ended with more hookup board drama, a secret oath between 5 girls, and my personal favorite...being pantsed (is that even a verb?) by Richelle. After a life like this, I just don't know if Utah will ever be able to cut it again. Except for the fact that I have some of my favorite people there. So no worries, I'll be coming back. ;-) In closing, here's a picture of some more amazing people that I love.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Can Somebody Get Me a Visual?

I’m not even going to lie, I am jamming to the High School Musical 3 Soundtrack right now and loving every minute of it. One of my last purchases in the states before I left the homeland. Gotta keep my priorities straight you know? Anywho, today is an exciting day for all of us. First, because I had a basically awesome day. Second, because….drum roll please….you get pictures!!!! So be prepared for some visual stimulation....

The following escalator can be found in the Vienna, Austrian airport, and basically sums up the trip here. Quite possibly the longest voyage of my life. As for the cigarettes, well I'm pretty sure Austrians just think people shouldn't smoke, so they require death warnings on the packages. Why doesn't our country do this? Brilliant!

While the trip here was less than pleasant, the party started once we got here. The first few nights were spent in the ping pong room playing around the world. As you can see, we take it very seriously. The second picture is our rockin dance party at the shekel shaq...which is really just a junk food bar. But still good.

Hold onto your hats, because here's a re-cap of some amazing sights I've seen since I got here. We go on field trips about once a week, so you can be jealous. :-) Here we've got a view of the Benjamin Plateau where we froze our butts off getting the low down on the history of it. Next is the Nabi Samwil Church which had some of the most beautiful ceiling paintings I have ever seen. The third is a picture of the Garden of Gethsemane, which was pretty much beyond words. Finally is the church of all nations, which is right beside the Garden and also had some amazing art and sculpture.

And for the grand finale, I'm going to introduce the amazing people that put up with me here in the JC. They are seriously the coolest people ever, and I would not be having the time of my life without them...
Here is Stephanie, and although we cannot be "best friends" we can be "dear friends". Apparently we've gotten tight enought that everyone thinks we knew eachother before we got here. But when you're playing ping pong every night, fixing eachother's life problems, and single-handedly creating social classes among 78 people, you tend to get close. On the bottom we have Shamra, who I like to call Sham-a-lama, just because it's fun. She is riot and also has a deep seeded obsession with ping pong. Recently we've taken to eating dinner together where I get the dessert on my tray and she eats half of my tray...because she's "not allowed" to have dessert. Yeah doesn't make sense to me either.

Meet Jayne, who knows how to have a good time and make friends. She is one of the sweetest girls I know, and I can always count on her for a good chat. We share a mutual love for Weezer and obviously has some serious dance moves. The girl with the awesome hair is Moon, who's the craziest, coolest, most loving person ever. She really does just love everyone, and is a walking party. Seriously, if I'm ever bored, I know Moon's got something going on and I can hang with her.

Next is Richelle. We got tight on our first field trip when I demanded to know her life story and I got about 7 different parts in between geographic lectures and sightseeing. She is amazing at photography and I love giving her hugs. She makes me happy. Finally we have Miriam, who is a self admitted serial flirt, but not the bad kind lol. She is one of those girls that has everything going on. Smart, funny, cute, friendly, and an awesome girl. Not just anyone can pull off that face and make it look good.

Now just so you all know, this list is non-exclusive and in no particular order. I have many more friends and even more to make. I fully intend on making everyone my friend by the end of this 4 months...whether they like it or not. Haha. But obviously I've got some work to do. So for now, I hope you've enjoyed this trip down photograph lane.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Productivity Wanes

I don't think I'm capable of writing a blog unless I have incomplete homework hanging over my head. That's just life. Meh. Anyways, the last two days haven't been too exciting...well as dull as you can get in the Holy Land anyway...which almost beats exciting back in Provo on any given day. So, sunday was our first full free day in Jerusalem. It was pretty exciting, for everyone except me that is. I chose to spend the day doing laundry, catching up on homework, and taking a nap. Slacking off can only go so long before it becomes apparent my grades are going to suffer. That was the price I had to pay. Anywho, yesterday was spent between classes and yet another long shopping trip with a group of girls into the old city. Apparently I'm the shopping guru because everybody likes it when I tell them to buy (or more commonly NOT buy) things. But let's be honest, the fact that my bossiness is being welcomed by others is kind of a foreign concept to me. I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon enough and we'll be back to the "Yes Elyse, we know you have an opinion but we just don't care." Then the world will be right again. Let's see what else...oh my new name is E-lice thanks to my arabic teacher. However, I now know how to say hello (marhaba), goodbye (maesalame), and three different ways to say no. My personal favorite is the clicking of the tongue (I love this country). I plan to combine it with an upwards head nod and raised eyebrows just to get the "no" across the next time I'm proposed to by a local. Why can't men from my own country every propose marriage? Seriously! It's all Jamaican/Ecuadorians and Middle Easterners. But my life is hard like that. Lastly, I just can't post another blog without relating the juicy gossip the hookup board has brought upon the JC. It all started with Richelle, Miriam, and Moon's spare corkboard in room 410. Throw in some stick figure pictures, thumb tacs, and a room full of get drama. Now an online survey has been established in order to place votes on which people would be the best hookups. But considering there are only 17 guys and 62 girls, the guys have some good odds while the rest of us girls are doomed to loser-ness, or should I say permanant peon status? Like I said, my life is hard. Anywho, tomorrow we are taking a tour of the Kotel tunnel, and I anticipate good things. Not to mention we have the Egypt trip 4 days. Woot! So right here and now I'm vowing to upload some pictures before then, because apparently nobody follows the "no uploading pictures" rule around here anyway. I am such a rebel.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Heavy Dose of Insomnia

Right now it is almost 3am and I am still not feeling sleep coming on. Sometimes insomnia really sucks....unfortunately I have a pretty good idea of the cause, and it's not going away in the near future. I've already been caught red-handed by building security walking around with flashlights. Luckily they have mercy on insomniacs. Anywho, today was another awesome Shabbat. Church was amazing, choir singing and all, and we even got to visit the Garden of Gethsemane along with the Church of All Nations. (Don't worry mom, I'll drag my lazy butt up to Hebrew University to upload the pictures soon enough) It was so neat to walk down the Mount of Olives through Orson Hyde Park and then into the Garden. It was just a small gated off piece of land with olive trees, but still amazing. They church was gorgeous too. The interior is beautiful, but unfortunately it was too dark for any pics. So even though we had to climb a killer hill back, it was infinitely worth it. I love walking around this city. But of all the places I've been so far, the chapel here in the JC is still my favorite. There's just something about sitting there in silence and looking over the whole city through our huge semi-circular windows. Oh and the rain, I love that too. When it rains, it pours...just the way I like it.

Among other things, the past two nights we've inducted a new tradition amongst our group, something I like to call Extreme Signs. You may have played signs before, but nothing beats this. Imagine at least 40 people crammed into a deformed circle and making the most absurd hand/face/body gestures while trying to evade the middle person's touch. Tonight's game included a tug of war where I ended up alone in middle, and on my backside. For some reason the day can't end without me somehow embarrassing myself. But at this point I have no shame, so it's all good. I also busted out my purple genie pants that I bought in the city. They were well received and as a result, my permanent hand sign is the genie in the bottle. I've also officially mastered all 78 students first (and i think last) names. So now I can successfully pretend to be everyone's friend without them really having a choice. I'll just walk up to them and be like "Hey So and so, how about that Islam class today? What's for lunch? What? You want to sit by me because I'm so cool?" Haha ok that wouldn't really happen, but knowing names sure helps.

Well, before I sign off for bed, a quick shout out to Kellie, who's "I miss you" playlist inspired this post ;-) You are awesome. Bet on it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Little Educational Post Please

So I've realized this blog is often about the people and all the goings on in the JC, so from here on out I'm just what I am. First, yesterday was class as usual and then we got to go out into the city again. I went with a group of girls this time, and we spent waaaaaay too much time and money shopping. It was good though, and I got a chance to talk to some of the merchants who are really so good to us. It's so funny because everywhere we go people know we're "the mormons." I've been abroad before, but never so labelled. It's interesting. It's kind of funny too, because everyone knows the mormons are honest and conscious of morals. We also got a lecture on the dead sea scrolls from Bro. Skinner, and that was cool. Learned a ton of stuff about the ancient civilization of Qumran and loved every second of it.

Today was a little more intense. We had 4 straight hours of class (which I can apparently no longer handle) where I starved since I thought it was a good idea to sleep in and skip breakfast. Then I made the even smarter decision of eating a chocolate candy bar prior to lunch. I'm sure my dad is cringing at the thought lol. After lunch I should've gone straight to homework, but my self discipline is getting worse and I played volleyball for almost 2 hours and yes, I got hit in the head again. It was epic this time though because I was on the receiving end of a spike that hit my forehead so hard it almost bounced to the ceiling. And it knocked me down. Good times. Anywho, after that was the real treat. We went to another mini lecture by Bro. Skinner about the Western (wailing) wall and then walked down to wall itself. It was really cool to see everyone all dressed up in their Shabbat best and reading the Torah. I ended up sitting by a giant golden menorah and listening to another boy story. I've decided to become a story collector. It really is awesome.

As for the silly social stuff that is ever pervasive here...I'll just hit the highlights. 1) A few days ago I was officially labelled as one of the popular peons. What is this you ask, well, according to Stefanie, it is one who lots of people know but does not have "ritzy popular" status. Now we've started a revolution where everyone has to be on a side...Ritzy or Peon...judge for yourself which you choose. But we all know where I stand now. 2) Yesterday at dinner we had an almost fiasco that officially made it into the JC Hall of Infamy. Stefanie wasn't brave enough to tell it in her blog, but I'm all over it. Stefanie and I walked up to Moon after clearing our trays (our cafeteria seriously feels like high school) to chat for a minute. Stefanie is holding a glass of water that comes dangerously close to spilling on Moon. Then she asks "What would you do if I spilled this on you Moon?" and Moon replies "Do it and see." Now me, thinking I'll take Stefanie down the path that rocks, smartly quip "She won't do it, she's not brave enough." Two seconds later I'm wide eyed and backing up as a drenched Moon jumps out of her chair, grabs some food, and stuffs it into Stefanie's face. Visions of an Oasis-wide food fight flashed before my eyes...but luckily Stefanie just ran away and the only reprecussions were one of the faculty's wife's almost having a heart attack. It was all in good fun though. My life never has a dull moment around here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weezer, World Domination, and Whatnot

First of all, let me just start with a little anecdote. Earlier today I was attempting to do my homework when I was happy to be interrupted by Jayne. We talked about alot of things, but among them it came up that if she could meet any living person it would be Rivers Cuomo. This is the point when I knew me and Jayne were suppposed to be friends. We bonded over the fact that Weezer is the soundtrack of our lives, and she even went to the extreme of avoiding listening to any of them while coming out of a breakup...just so Weezer wouldn't be tainted. Awesome. Anyways, the reason I tell this is because right before I started this post, I was feeling a little grouchy and brain dead, but of course I pop the ipod in, tune into some Weezer and bam, I'm back. Haha.

So, highlights of the past two days...where do I begin? Went to some more class yesterday, yawn. Took a nap though, so that was good, especially since I spent the previous two nights awake past midnight getting some juicy boy stories (my girl bonding boy stories is already up to 4 for the week!). Played some boggle, which I thankfully still dominate at, otherwise my ego would be the size of a peanut by now because I've lost at almost everything else since I got here. We all know how much Elyse feels the need to retain her world domination of boggle. :-) Let's see...oh here's a good story...well I'm kind of ashamed...but that's not going to stop me now. We had a guest lecturer yesterday and instead of just skipping (which really would have been more respectful) I went and sat in the back row with Miriam, Moon, Jake, and Stefanie where we played pictionary telephone for an hour. I really do feel bad I didn't listen, but things like the byu cougar looking like a t-rex and something about hands down, kind of made it worth it.

Today was our field trip day around Jeru (this is my new loving via comments if you think it's blasphemous) where we went to about 5 different sites and discussed how the related to the old testament. The best part was defnitely singing Nearer My God to Thee at the Nabi Samwil mosque/synagogue though. Wow. So after that took most of the day, I forced myself to do some homework, eat dinner, and then play ping pong again. Unfortunately I made the mistake of inviting other people to Stefanie and I's it turned into a whomping session (which has officially been defined as a win margin of at least 10 pts) where one guy pretty much took us all down. Vicious.

Yep, so that pretty much covers it...well not really...but I'm tired. However, before I get some much needed sleep, I'm giving a holla to the peeps reading this. Thanks for taking an interest in my sad little life, and I miss every single one of you mega much. Don't think just because I'm having a good time that I've forgotten you! So here I am, sending some love all the way from Jerusalem, from me to you! <3>

Monday, January 12, 2009


So even though I only have 15 credits here and no job whatsoever, it still feels like I run from one thing to the next...granted they are things like taking a nap, writing emails, reading, and going to the old city. But still. Anywho, life in the JC is just hunky dory. Yesterday was pretty exciting though. We got to go out on the town by ourselves (aka in groups of at least five) and experience Jerusalem. Unfortunately, my group's sense of direction (alas my own internal compass failed me) was a little off and we ended up at the end of a sketch alley trying to find Jaffa Gate. Then we were suddenly surrounded by 12 year olds shouting "HALLO! HALLO! JAFFA GATE? DIS WAY! YES DIS WAY" It was pretty intense, and they were pretty persistent, but we decided to follow back the way we came and avoided disaster. We also had our first Jewish and Palestinian classes yesterday. Our Jewish teacher Ophir Yarden is the bomb. He's bald and wears a kapa (?) which he has to tape to his head with double stick tape (yes we asked lol). Our Palestinian teacher is...interesting. His name is Adnan Musallam and he likes interpreting names. Last night we had the grand opening of our snack bar, loving called the Shekel Shaq. This was accompanied by a wicked dance party where we all know I got my awkward groove on. I'd like to think that Jayne, Stefanie, and I singlehandedly got the party going on. After that the hard core people went down and played ping pong (while i conveniently finished my laundry in the next room). By the time I went to bed my whole body ached. Today hasn't been quite as exciting. Although we did have Arabic for the first time today. I learned a total of one word, Shukar, which means thank you. Our teacher is pretty much the funniest guy on the planet. Seriously, I love the faculty here. There is so much diversity and good vibes going around, I'll never be bored. So basically, life is literally a party one big sleepover with 78 people. It is awesome. Peace!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Day in the Life

Hello Hello! So I decided I needed to blog rather soon in order to get the sour taste out of your mouths that I left in the last blog. Too much whining. Instead, I'm going to give you a little day in the life of segment to show you just what an amazing time I'm having.

5AM: Wake up to the beautiful sounds of the Call to Prayer, which lasts about 10 minutes, and then I promptly roll over and fall back asleep for another hour.

7AM: Go to breakfast in the Oasis (our cafeteria) where I am fed delicious food that I do not have to prepare.

8AM: Attend Old Testament where I get to learn all the amazingly cool things about the bible that I've always ignored.

10AM: Attend Near Eastern Studies where I'm taught by renowned (and awesomely sarcastic) scripture scholar Andrew Skinner about the history of the Middle East.

11AM: Endure yet another orientation to go over rules and security checks, which as of yesterday, restricts us from actually entering the city since demonstrations were going on all over the city against the missile attacks from Lebanon on Northern Israel .

12PM: Go to the Oasis for yummy lunch where I have to restrain myself from eating multiple pitas filled with peanut butter and honey.

1PM: Attend a committee meeting that I am the chair of, where we discuss what we'll do to fulfill our job as the keepers of "Memories".

2PM: Play ping pong for over an hour and get my butt whipped 5 times by Stefanie and Mike.

3PM: Attempt to start the reading assignment on Judaism that is a daunting 75 pages long and is required by Sunday morning.

4PM: Abandon thoughts of homework to play volleyball in the gym where I sufficiently embarrass myself as well as get hit in the head with the ball.

6PM: Again go to the Oasis where I stuff my face full of food and try pistachio ice cream for the first time in my life.

7PM: Attend the Five Pillars of Islam video in the Forum where I struggle to stay awake for the next 45 minutes and take in some real cultural learning.

8PM: Find myself in the ping pong room yet again, where a large group of us play around the world ping pong with the winner taking the honors of wearing a sweatband.

9PM: Have a history lesson of my new friend Stefanie's life, and then proceed to tell mine, although her's was much more interesting.

10PM: Squeeze in a little more Judaism reading and scripture study before calling it a night and going to bed.

So that's pretty much going to be my life for the next four months, with a couple variations and field trips. Jealous much? Just kidding! But seriously, I am having the time of my life and count my blessings every day that I was lucky enough to get chosen for this program.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Travel Trials

So I have officially arrived in the Holy Land everyone! It was a harrowing journey, but the important thing is that I got here. But let me just give you an idea of what I had to endure. First, out of SLC we had to sit on the runway for at least 45 minutes, and then go back to refuel before we could take off again because we'd been idling so long. By the time we got to Chicago we were almost an hour behind schedule, as a result we had to run half way across the airport just to make our connection. When we finally got into DC we got to rest for about 30 minutes (and scarf down some exorbitantly priced airport food) before we boarded for Vienna. After a long flight of 9 hours, we arrived in Vienna Austria. Spent a little over an hour in that airport before boarding for Tel Aviv. When we arrived in Tel Aviv, I had the wonderful experience of watching the conveyor belt rotate at least 30 times before giving up hope on my luggage. Myself along with 4 others, had not gotten our luggage. So we had to go report it at lost and found where (this is just priceless) they took our information down and handed us a "survival kit" complete with a extra large white t-shirt, mini toothpaste and toothbrush, and cotton balls. Of course that made it all better. As long as I've got me some cotton balls, I can live in a foreign country without my luggage for who knows how long!!! Can you tell I'm a little bitter? Luckily, I had the sense to pack a few extra things in my carry on bag. Unfortunately, I will be living in the same pair of pants until they find my suitcase. Meh. So, for those of you keeping up with the math at home, travel to Jerusalem totalled over 24 hours straight. Not to mention I hardly slept at all on any of the plane rides. Bythe time we got to the center, I was in a zombie-like state. Today I'm now operating on 6 hours of sleep...combined with the 3 hours I got between flights...for a grand total of 9 hours sleep in 3 days. However, aside from all of this, the Holy Land was well worth the trip. Everything is beautiful, and the view of the city from the center is breathtaking. Everyone I have met has been very friendly, and the staff is great. To my great dismay, the food is rather tasty. I had hoped that I would find the food unappetizing and thus give myself a 4 month diet. But alas my plan has been foiled! So, now that I've whined for long enough to make me feel better, I'm off to take a much needed nap!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And So The Adventure Begins...

Hello everyone! If you're reading this blog, it probably means I told you to because I'm too lazy to write emails constantly, and this way you don't have to hear about my travels if you don't want to. Everybody wins! Anyways, the first adventure of my Jerusalem experience began with a long and rather dull 3 hour lecture about odds and ends of the trip. I won't bore you with the details, but essentially we had it drilled in to our heads that our clothes, language, and actions must be culturally sensitive to the people of Israel. So, I invite to embark with me on a four month journey to the Holy Land where we learn together just what it's like to live on the other side of the world!