Shalom everyone! School has started up here (finally) at the University of Haifa and I am so happy to have something to do! Yesterday, I took my Hebrew placement test from 9-12pm; it was really long and rather difficult, but I ended up placing into the highest level of Hebrew offered. As great as I felt for doing well on the test, today in the first day of class I felt a little insecure about my level of Hebrew. I am currently working on a reading assignment and I understand very little of it, so I might have to move down a level, but either way I will have a great teacher and a good class. I am mostly just excited to get back into learning Hebrew, which is the reason I came to study abroad in Israel in the first place.
The first day of shopping classes was long, and I was not overly impressed with the quality of the classes. I shopped one on Rabbinic Literature, which was alright. I really want to learn Mishna, but I am not sure if that classroom was the right one for me to delve into that material. Afterwards, I went to one called Leadership in Organizations, which had a really bubbly and sweet teacher and the readings look amazing. It is a combination of psychology, international relations, and political science; it is especially appealing because this is one of the only classes not specifically on Israel or Judaism, and a little variation is nice. Still, the workload was quite small from what I could tell, but that is not necessarily a bad thing if my other classes are more demanding.
Today, I was way more inspired by the classes I looked at. At first, I was planning to attend a class on Holocaust History, but it was postponed until next week, so I looked at one on the Social History of Israel. Originally, I did not think this would be appealing, but the teacher is the awesome feminist professor who really knows how to command a classroom. The topic is not the most intriguing to me personally, but the class is 3 hours once a week, so I think that the quality of the professor is a very important factor. Finally, I looked at Biblical Theology and I was totally blown away. At first, I sat in the class unsure of how to feel, but the professor/rabbi touched on so many advanced concepts and really started to alter the way I interact with religious text in just one session. I decided to take that class to fulfill the ancient studies requirement of my Judaic Studies concentration, and I bought the books (basically just the Hebrew Bible in English and Hebrew) and I am quite excited.
Overall, the courses here are good, with some a little sub-par and some really amazing. I have another week or so to shop for more classes to fill my schedule, but suffice to say that I am much more excited today than yesterday to continue shopping for them, and generally in higher spirits than when I was sitting around with nothing to do during Sukkot.
Also, in terms of social activities, we participated in a drum circle last night, which was really fun! We got to pound on some bongos, use other percussion instruments, and generally laugh and have a good time. I also found out about volunteering opportunities in the city for the semester, and I have an interview tomorrow where I will pick which is best for me...I will keep you all posted! Now back to Hebrew homework...