Not Such An Olah Chadasha Anymore

Ten months into my Aliyah, and whilst I am still finding my way in life as an Israeli citizen, I have also noticed some clear signs that I’m not such a newbie anymore. And so:

You know you’re not such an Olah Chadasha anymore (or at least I do) when…

  • You have resigned yourself to the fact that you cannot avoid speaking to strangers (because there are no strangers here, we’re all brothers!) and so sometimes to get it over with you are the one who initiates conversations. “Shalom, ma shlomcha? Now leave me alone, I’m English.”
  • You cannot keep quiet about this any longer, and on the form at your Health kupa asking if you’d like to be contacted by fax, write “מה פקס?”
  • Taxis stop trying to pick you up because you are clearly no tourist, with your rav kav and purposeful stride.
  • On the rare occasion that you do take a taxi, you mostly get it right when you decide whether to haggle or to use the meter, and you also most of the time know just the right amount to be offended when the driver quotes his initial price.
  • You begin to get a sense of when to be pushy and when to be sweet, when to be Israeli and when to be “help-me-I’m-an-Olah-Chadasha”.
  • Sometimes it annoys you when Israelis use English instead of Hebrew, and so you deliberately use the Hebrew even though you know it’s wrong – Me: “מידה אחד?” Shop assistant: “זה one size”. The words ‘one size’ translate perfectly into Hebrew, why do they do that!!
  • You finally get garinim (sunflower seeds). I learnt how to eat them properly a while ago, but I didn’t really understand the point of them. Now I do, and I get why they are so addictive.
  • You only know how to say your phone number and Teudat Zehut off by heart in Hebrew, not English.
  • You actually feel cold when it’s 25C outside. I really cannot explain this one, it makes no sense to me. When I would come to Israel on holiday in ‘winter’, I would laugh at Israelis in their coats and boots, while I went to the beach. But now I am cold. I will still try to get through the next month or two in sandals though, because I am in denial that summer is over. (Thank you, Hamas).
  • You manage to push your way onto buses and trains without actually pushing.
  • You know a couple of French slang phrases in case the need arises.
  • You know what Isis is in Hebrew.
  • An American may for some reason, possibly because he is drunk, think you are an Israeli who doesn’t know English, and proceed to speak to you for 5 minutes in dumbed-down, slow, broken English (for your benefit), with the odd Hebrew word proudly thrown in. You will, of course, not correct him, and simply reply in Hebrew not even bothering to hide your non-Israeli accent, knowing he won’t notice.
  • Your Hebrew is improving all the time, and somehow you were not laughed out of a Hebrew job interview, but were actually told by the interviewers that your Hebrew is good!
  • You have bought your first Hebrew book (second, if you count the one you had to buy for Ulpan). And yes, it is a children’s book, yes it is the Hebrew version of an Enid Blyton Famous Five book that you tracked down in a second-hand shop, but it is Hebrew and it is hilarious.
  • You ask your Israeli cousins Hebrew-language questions that they don’t know the answer to, that in fact probably no Israeli knows the answer to – and so actually the really Israeli thing would be to not ask and just make up your own language rules.
  • You still kind of flinch when you see an article you want to/have to read in Hebrew, but then you realise that you understand it better reading it on your own, than if you Google-translate it.
  • You send emails from work in Hebrew, and people reply as though what you wrote makes sense.
  • You buy a Hebrew 5775 diary.
  • You know to use Hebrew websites instead of their English equivalents, because the English ones don’t give you any information other than “Shalom! Welcome to the English website of ________. Mm bye bye.”
  • When you phone somewhere and have the option to press for English, you don’t, because you know no one will answer.
  • Fewer Israelis reply in English when you speak to them in Hebrew.
  • Since you made Aliyah, you have been in Israel for every Chag from Pesach to Shavuot to Yom Ha-everything to Succot. And now that you’ve done 1-day Chagim, you can never go back.
  • Post-Ulpan, karaoke till 4 am on a Thursday night is actually Selichot at the Kotel on Erev Yom Kippur.
  • After 10 months you will finally be going back to visit London – and you will be as Israeli-tourist as possible.
  • You meet Olim who are newer than you. On the one hand, you don’t get as fun a reaction when people ask when you made Aliyah (“Fresh off the boat! A pioneer!”), on the other, you’ve been here longer therefore you are an expert in all things Aliyah and Israel-related.
  • Except you’re not really, but you are definitely learning.
About the Author
Mizrachi Jew. Israeli-in-Progress. But I only drink tea with milk.
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