Culture Shock: A Homecoming
Tamar Aharon, 23 years old, was born in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from York University with a Bachelors of Education and hopes to work in Israel as an English teacher. Her love of Israel was cultivated at a young age; she has been visiting Israel once a year, since she was a baby, to visit her father who resides in Israel. She made Aliyah from Canada with her mother in February 2016, and wrote the following piece in honor of her 6-month Aliyah Anniversary.
There are really only two responses I get when I tell people I moved to Israel six months ago: “Really? You moved here – to Israel? Why would you do such a thing?” and “Wow, that is wonderful, I give you lots of credit – welcome to the most amazing country in the world!”
My bedroom is the mamad, the bomb shelter.
I go through a security check when I enter the mall or drive to work.
I have a constant fear of making a wrong turn.
I get yelled at by a lady simply because I am taking too long to get on the bus, but then she overhears my dilemma about my evening plans and, to my surprise, offers me to stay at her house for the night.
We have all heard it, Israelis are like cactus fruit – prickly on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside.
What an interesting, challenging and wonderful experience these past six months have been. They have been filled with wonder, anxiety, joy, sadness and excitement. Despite the daily hardships Israelis endure, they still remain the most positive, passionate and happy people on this planet. Yes, they do overuse terms of endearment constantly, strangers calling me: “mami, chaim sheli, ahava, capara and neshama,” but they mean it, and they are saying these things in such an authentic way that their sincerity really shines through.
For the past six months I have called this country my home, and the truth is, I have always dreamed of calling this country my home. When I arrived in February, we were in the midst of a new wave of terror. This instilled fear, a fear that could only be understood by those who live here. The fear of walking outside and possibly being stabbed was immensely frightening. The only sense of security I had was found in the new addition to my purse: pepper spray. Despite my fear, I took a trip to the shuk in Tel Aviv. I saw the vendors dancing on the tables with blaring loud music; there were huge crowds singing and dancing with them. It was like there was no place for distress or troubles in their lives. In that moment I recognized that despite the terror, despite the hardships, Israelis appreciate life and know how to continue living and moving on with a smile on their faces.
Day to day life is about what I expected. Yes, Israelis are the most aggressive drivers I have ever encountered. In fact, honking my horn while driving is my new normal. I wish that I could say that aggressive driving was my biggest worry on the road. The truth is, my main fear is taking the wrong turn and ending up in a dangerous situation.
I miss the little things, like the shower being hot right away and not having to turn on the dud (water heater), or walking out my house and feeling cool, refreshing air. But what really matters and makes it all worthwhile is the joy this country brings me, and being surrounded by all of my family. I miss my friends dearly, but I can finally say I am at peace with my life and I am very happy and full of delight.
Happy six month Aliyahversary to me!