Moving from the U.S. to Israel is no doubt a culture shock, but I thought I knew what to expect before I boarded the plane to start my new life. As it turns out, there were a lot of things I didn’t know but wish I had known, such as:
1. There’s No Such Thing as a Lazy Sunday
I knew Sundays were a regular work day in Israel, but I had no idea it would take so long to get used to the fact that there would be no more lazy Sunday afternoons.
Sunday marks the start of the work week, which means most of my friends have to get back to the office grind with the rest of their colleagues. I work at home but usually have to make up some work on Sunday.
But in place of lazy Sundays, we have Shabbat dinners with loved ones.
2. The Idea of Community is Alive and Well
In the U.S., there’s a great sense of pride that comes from being independent and self-reliant. But in Israel, you must give up your need to be so ferociously independent. The idea of community is alive and well here.
Problems are shared among friends and family. There is always someone nearby to lend a helping hand. Friends would gladly drop what they’re doing to help you solve a problem.
3. Most of Your Electronics and Appliances Won’t Work
One thing that is often completely overlooked is the fact that many of your US electronics and small appliances won’t work in Israel.
Even something as simple as setting up my Keurig was a bit of a hassle. I had to buy a converter. And I still have to buy the K-cups from the U.S. and have someone bring it in as Amazon will not ship food products to Israel.
4. Everything is Expensive, but Crime is Virtually Non-Existent
There’s no denying that Israel is an expensive country, especially when it comes to housing. I had to get used to the idea of living in an apartment. In the U.S., families strive to buy a single-family home with a big yard.
While the cost of living is high especially for people like myself that are paid in dollars, I never really have to worry about crime here. The country isn’t completely devoid of crime (crime is up 20% from last year), but I feel safe walking most places.
5. You Don’t Really Need a Car
Buses and trains can get you to most places in Israel. Tel Aviv and Haifa have excellent public transportation systems, too. In Israel, you don’t really need a car, although it’s a nice convenience.
In many parts of the U.S., you need a car to get anywhere, and you can expect to drive a long distance to get there. Most things are just a short drive or bus ride away in Israel. For dates and client meetings I rent a car for as low as 20 shekels per hour ($5.71) from City Car. They have one parked up the block from my house so I can just grab the car and let the meter run. You can drive across the entire Israel in 6 hours.
6. You’ll Need to Leave Your Need for Instant Gratification Behind
In the U.S., you can get just about anything you want or need at any time of day. Need to run to the drug store? They’re open 24/7. If you have a craving for a burrito, burger or even a cup of coffee at 3 am, there’s a 24-hour drive-thru open somewhere nearby.
In Israel, things are different – and in a good way. I learned to be okay with not giving in to those cravings, and to abide by the food rules.