First week in the holy land is over and was full of great experiences ! Living in Jerusalem is indeed quite different than living in Germany or Sweden. Who would have thought ?! 😛 😛 😛
Our journey to Jerusalem was quite long and quite eventful with a great but very sleep deprived 12 hours in Istanbul. Thanks to Redbull, some good food and great mood we made it through the old city and saw things like the blue mosque and the Aya Sofia.
We arrived in Tel Aviv around 00.00 am after being awake for about 35 hours apart from some power naps. Unlike the stories I had heard getting the Visa and the permission to enter the country wasn’t really a hassle nor were people very unfriendly. However who was terribly unfriendly was the taxi driver who took us to Jerusalem but we were too sleep deprived to really care and I found the chaotic way of driving by that grumpy guy rather entertaining than frightening.
Around 02.00 am we arrived at our flat and were very happy to fall into a bed after seeing that we managed to find a great and comfortable place to stay. The next day we took it easy and had a walk around the neighbourhood and the city center which is really close by. We also got to know our room mate Daniel who is a really great guy and he gave us a tour through the old city at night to the wailing wall which was very impressive.
The following day was my first working day at the Palestinian NGO ‘Center for Democracy and Community Development’ in East Jerusalem. It was quite a challenge to wake up at 06.45 am and it still is even though I work since a week 😛 My way to work takes me approx. 30 min to walk from the Western part of Jerusalem which also seems quite “Western” with Hotels, tourists , Bars , Shops etc, to the Eastern Part into the Muslim Quarter which gave me the first time I entered the impression I entered a different country. The walk is quite demanding due to quite a few hills and the temperature which is still around 30 degrees and is supposed to climb up to around 36 degrees this Friday. Pheeww…..
East Jerusalem is very different to West Jerusalem when it comes to street image , buildings, people, shops, trash and atmosphere and many more things….. I like to live in one part and work in the other and to see the contrast every day. What I have to get used to is all the people there (the majority is quite religious in case you didn’t know) looking at me like I would be an alien. My piercing and tattoo probably does not really help with the good impression 😉 however people are really nice when you happen to talk to them. Since it is so religious in this area one should take care to wear appropriate cloths, as a tourist a scarf around the head is not needed , but shoulders and legs should be preferably covered which one has to get used to when its so warm outside.
My working colleges are all super nice including the boss and the whole working environment is very relaxed! The first couple of days I mainly spend reading a lot about their projects and the organization and get to know the people. I spend a lot of time on understanding and researching the Israel-Palestine conflict which is quite the challenge since it is such a complex and long lasting conflict. I have been many times amazed by details I wasn’t aware of which are very important when it comes to this issue. That made me even more interested in the whole topic and wanting to work with it and somehow contribute to bettering the situation if possible….
This Monday I then got assigned my very first own task. 😀 I will take part in the Community Development Jerusalem Project . The main focus lays on the relationship between East and West Jerusalem when it comes to community cooperation. How do the two parts of the city, whereby East Jerusalem a occupied territory is and West Jerusalem part of Israel, cooperate and where do they not cooperate and why.
At the moment I research a lot about the situation or rather relation between the two parts from a political, economical and social point of view. When that is done I have some follow up meeting with my boss again and he will give me contact data from different politicians and activists from both sides which I will meet and interview about the situation to later be able to write a detailed report about. Me and another intern Giulia from Italy will also do a tour to the outskirts of Jerusalem accompanied by someone local, to have a look at the situation and living conditions of the people there.
While this project is developing we will be in constant contact with our boss and develop more ideas as it goes on. In the fall there are some more projects coming up I partly will work with as well. Moreover will I be able to take part in UN, EU and other organizations meetings and workshops. That all sounds very exciting to me and I am very very very glad that I found this internship placement as I think I will learn a lot here and gain big amounts of knowledge and experiences. 🙂
When it comes to free time activities last weekend we rented a car which cost only 35 dollars a day what is compared to rent and food in Jerusalem really cheap. Living here is quite a bit more expensive then I thought. The prices are even rather Swedish than German. We drove through the Westbank; first to a historical place ‘Masada’ to visit old Jewish and Roman ruins on top of a mountain which was incredible impressing and then went on to the Dead Sea. In the Westbank we also went through our first road block which was kinda exciting and took quite a while with passport checking, car searching and quite a few questions. Overall they were quite friendly and the machineguns did not really impress us that much since police and army presence is quite strong in Jerusalem. The ‘Security Issue’ in Israel, another very interesting and complex topic which takes a while to comprehend the cope of it and to understand which are the influencing aspects but that would be a blog post of its own…
Visiting the Dead Sea was a lot of fun with floating in the water in which it is really impossibly to drown , getting the whole body covered up in mineral mud and taking a dip in a sulphur pool 😀 Since we stay 5 month here we are however not in a rush to do stuff all the time and take it
Over all the first impression of the city and living here is great. It is a city full of tradition, history, diversity and many places to visit and discover. People are very friendly and worst case only a little grumpy but so far I made no bad experience. The city is incredible diverse when it comes to districts and people. Last night we went running and got completely lost which actually was a fun adventure because one gets a complete different impression of the city! We ended up in a district which seemed to only inhabited by orthodox Jewish people and looked again very different compared to the city center or to the Eastern part.
To quote Rickard on Facebook : “Yesterday while going for a run and afterwords getting lost, it hit me. Jerusalem is just like disneyland, you go from area to area and the looks of all the people and buildings change. But instead of spaceland, adventureland and frontierland we have Jewish quarter, Arab qarters, city center…. Or as Yoda would say, many contrasts here is! ”
One more thing to mention is I haven’t smoked in a week !! Booojaaaa people be proud of me !!!!! 😀 I promised myself to not smoke in Israel at all and if I should happen to smoke I have to donate 20 euro for each cigarette to some charity organization ….. Due to life being quuuuiite expensive here I take this very serious 😉 But…. to be completely honest…. I might have brought some Snus from Sweden and some nicotine chewinggums from Germany…. 😛
Our current place to live we have until the 5th of October until then we have to find something new thankfully our roommate checks all the local pages which are written in Hebrew for a new place to stay for us and I am certain we will find something great again ! Talking about Hebrew….. going for grocery shopping is quite a challenge since 90% of the products have all the informations only written in Hebrew . However its actually quite funny, so one gets to try accidentally lot of new things to eat. I also got an Israeli simcard which allows me to call for free any German or Swedish land line number which is really handy especially when it comes to my beloved Mum 🙂 An update on Jimmy’s health (my cat) is that he seems quite fine at the moment but is last blood data were not good and he is going to have an ultra sound and some other tests this Thursday morning. So lets all cross our fingers for my little brother !!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤
To come to an end…. So far that has been my first week living and working in Israel and I am looking forward to many more adventures and getting properly into work and meeting more great people ! Thank you for reading and I will update soon again and also upload some more pictures of this beautiful city ! Cheers 🙂
Here a kinda nice and relaxed song about Jerusalem , enjoy 🙂