Cultural Differences

Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
Trip End Mar 05, 2013

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Flag of Israel  ,
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Men: Where do I begin... OY VEY! 
The men are very aggressive both sexually and in everyday occurrences. They speak their mind and don't care what you say or do back to them. They push, shove and will howl at you to get your attention. Most of these annoying and uncomfortable situations have occurred at the bars and the shuk. 

Personal Space: People are comfortable being squished into each other (at the shuk) or a crowded bus. Also they don't know boundaries or as us American's call it.... our "bubble". One time at a bar I went up to grab a drink and the bar tender reached over the bar, grabbed my hair and cheeks and commented on my hair and being American (this belongs under Men as well). I am a very "bubble" person and like my space so being here has finally burst my bubble and made me feel more comfortable with human contact

Patience (too much): If your in a hurry, get out of Israel. If you hate lines, get out as well. People move very slowly here. The grocery store, and today at the Bus station lines are ridiculous and move at a snails pace. Also, with walking in the streets or anywhere I walk fast so I am easily annoyed with everyone taking their time walking slow. 
My mother told me the one thing I have to bring back with me from Israel is PATIENCE because I have absolutely none! I am slowly but surely starting to become patient. I hope to be able to come home and watch paint dry without a flinch. 

Interest in your life: People here are pretty friendly and always interested in hearing about your life (whether you like it or not). I went to a bar once and the bar tender after 5 minutes of sitting there told me about his acting career and showed me a mini movie he was in. My Hebrew teacher always asks us a million questions about our personal life, which some are too personal but he says it isn't rude and confused as to why we are offended. Anywhere I go and people ask (or just take one look at me) if I'm American they want to know why I came here and about my life story. 

Dining Out: "Hi folks, I hope your having a great night how may I help you, let me grab your food quick, Ill be right back" are NEVER things you hear at a cafe, bar, or restaurant in Israel. The dining service is slow slow slow. I have grown patience with my hunger and needing to devour food right when sitting down. I think it is the non- American way of sitting down and slowly enjoying your food and company, which I love and appreciate. People are not in a rush to eat and go here like many places around the world. 
Along with dining out there are cafes and bars EVERYWHERE! At least 1 or 2 per block. I love it because I can try a new one each day. At the cafes there are almost always pastries, especially croissants. 

Animals: DOGS, CATS, BATS oh my! There are stray cats everywhere because a while ago they had a rodent problem so they let cats take care of that. Now there is a cat problem. You see them everywhere, the beach, the streets, and wandering around restaurants for food. There also are huge bats right in front of my apartment that come out and fly around at night (and poop on you, happened to my friend). Israeli's, specifically people in Tel Aviv are dog people. You couldn't walk down 1 street block without seeing at least 1 dog (or dog poop, have to look down when you walk). Their laws or social acceptance with dogs allows them to walk around without leashes and being able to bring them in stores and malls. The dogs here are so tamed and obedient compared to American dogs since most don't have leashes and never act out or run away

Transportation: Try imagining sunday drivers but worse.. that is the typical Israeli driver. People go when they want, taxi drivers will run you over, and the buses won't stop and wait for you. With that Tel Aviv is a very bike friendly city with bike rentals stations all over the city (and some areas with bike lanes). People also walk everywhere, which is probably why they are so fit and skinny. 

Safety: I feel safer here walking alone or at night with a few people than I did downtown Chicago. The streets are always busy and people seem to not bother you if you don't want to be bothered. With petty crime I have yet to see any and that makes me feel even safer. In the big picture with being surrounded by war and terrorism I still feel safe because people here don't live in fear. I forgot all the time where I am living and the reality of what I'm living in the middle of. I know that I am safe because the IDF and American government would do anything to protect me. People have such great honor and respect for this country and what it means to them that I feel safe and protected everyday. 

HAIR COLOR: I have found out that yes it is true... Blondes are very rare and make me stick out like a giant sore thumb. Everywhere I go I get looks (positive) from men and women by my appearance. Blonde hair, freckles, TALL, and green eyes is definitely not common in Israel. Even though at times this makes me feel like an outcast it also makes me feel special and unique, unlike in American where I am the common.
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Reed on

Nice post!

Trev on

Great blog post - loved it.

So interesting to hear the perspective from inside the country is so different from the portrayal on TV. One would think that Israel and the middle east is similar to the movie "I am Legend". Not at all the case.

So happy for you and looking great, Hannah!

hannaholiff on

Thanks Dad and Trev!! I really appreciate it :)

Trev: no it is not a post apocalyptic world at all. You wouldn't even think your in a dangerous area, Tel Aviv more than Jerusalem or the North. I will try to write more entries about the daily life and differences from what you see in the news to what I see here in person.

Tu Amiga Janet! on

WOW Hannah!! I loved readign this blog :) It's so interesting and informative :) Im happy to know you are happy :) I miss you so much!

hannaholiff on

Thank you so much Janet!!! I miss you too

Mom on

Nice blog Hannah! Gives a great day to day perspective. Tough to be the "Barbie" in the crowd isn't it. I thought I posted a comment after looking at the pictures, but it didn't show up here.
Have fun starting the internship today!! Anxious to here all about it!

hannaholiff on

thanks mom! I saw the comment in the picture.


miss you alot but am so thrilled that you are having such a terrific time and almost blending in, that is tough with blond hair and blue eyes. your observations are just wonderful, sounds like the slow pace and dog poop stories of europe, youll get used to it. what a change from the usa. were now in florida with our computors set up so hopefully ill now be able to follow your blogs. every once in awhile i start to text u and realize your not here, oh well. hows the internship going and stay cool with those very aggressive men. have fun, all our love, till the next blog

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