Mid-Chanukkah Update

A few of the items I purchased for my course.
A few of the items I purchased for my course.

I just wanted to post a little update, now that the course is finally starting. But first, I wanted to apologize to y’all.

My website was down for over a day this weekend, due to issues with my hosting company’s servers. They migrated my site to a different server, and this hopefully solved all of the problems. So if you came to the site but found it wasn’t working, and then you came back again, I thank you for your tenacity!

Anyway, we had orientation for my course this past Friday. Most of the 42 people in my class were there, and it was nice to start to get to know everyone. Among other things, we got to go around and introduce ourselves, and I was impressed by some of the people with particularly interesting backgrounds. On the surface, were one to judge on outward appearances alone, it would be easy to dismiss this group as mostly the same. But after even just a brief introduction from each person, I got to see the differences within the group.

One thing that surprised me was the ages of the students. I’m 38 (albeit perhaps a “young 38”), but I may actually be below the median age in the group! I’m certainly pretty close to it one way or the other. There are a few students in their early- to mid-20s, but there are many more who are older than me. Some even close to my parents’ age. Not a good or a bad thing, just an interesting one!

As I mentioned, I knew two of the other guys who would be starting the course with me, but I suspected there would be others I might know. In fact, there was one (though there are still maybe 10 or so students we have yet to meet, and thus a few more who I might potentially know) who I was surprised to see. I knew him from way back in the day, growing up. He’s a few years older than me, around my brother’s age, but I definitely knew him. And yet, I didn’t even know he’d made aliyah (immigrated to Israel). A pleasant surprise.

Since this is the middle of Chanukkah, we aren’t having our first siyur (tour) until next week. (And Merry Chanukkah to all my Jewish readers!) But our first actual class will be this coming Friday morning, bright and early. So, in general, we will have class every Friday morning from 8 AM until 1 PM (not happy about this, but no choice if this is what I want to do), and a full-day siyur every Tuesday. We leave bright and early, have a long, full day, and get back about 12 hours later.

I’ve also begun to buy a few items that I will need for the course, or that will at least make things easier for me. Firstly, since I will be taking a lot of notes, and referring back to them a lot, I didn’t want to just use regular spiral-bound notebooks. So I purchased a hardcover, fully bound notebook (not a Moleskine, but that sort of thing). I have a number of these from various things over the years, and I really prefer them.

We were told how important it is for us to have a good road atlas for Israel, since we’ll need to make note of all of the routes we take to arrive at our various destinations. A friend who is in the middle of taking the tour guide course (the other English-language course, given by University of Haifa, but taught at Hebrew University) recommended a map she liked that had little notes in the margins of each page, highlighting many tourist destinations. I checked it out, but settled instead on the map seen in the above photo. Basically, while I did like the feature she mentioned, overall I found the one I bought was much easier to read — which of course is the most important feature!

Lastly, as I said, we will be going on a trip each week. But these are like moving classrooms. We’ll need to take notes while we are hiking, etc. Plus, I like to take photos, and may want to bring my old Ricoh film SLR (and extra lenses, etc.), as opposed to just my point-and-shoot digital camera. So I bought myself a photographer’s vest to wear on the tours. The one I got has something like 20 pockets in it, plus on the inside it has a small map of all the pockets in the vest. I should be able to carry anything I’d need in it, and still have plenty of empty pockets afterwards!

Anyhow, that’s the update and summary of where things stand with the class for now.

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