I felt awakened as I passed through the rolling hills, greenery, and desert sand of Israel leaving behind Jerusalem as a small speck in my mind. I sometimes find it hard to appreciate things in Israel after seeing places like Deheishe, however, the whole point of enrolling in Tel Aviv University was to challenge my thoughts and awaken myself to both perspectives. The further the bus drove from Jerusalem, the further we got from the conflict. It was easier to open my mind to the other side, which eventually made me realize why it was so easy for the other side to close their minds to what is going on outside of big cities like Haifa and Tel Aviv.
I was looking forward to spending time in Haifa, a beach town in the north of Israel. I was often told it was like being in a different world, a world living without a clue as to what conflict is. For those who spend much time in Jerusalem, or in the border areas, I can see why they feel this way, but for anyone coming from outside, signs of the conflict are still everywhere. The buses and trains and even beaches are filled with soldiers in their green uniforms, their M-4's hanging casually off their shoulders. For me this signifies anything but a conflict free area. But I can't complain too much. The beach was wonderful, besides the jellyfish that kept being washed on shore, and to be honest, the soldiers are hot!
After two days Alejandro and I (yes we meet again!) headed to Tel Aviv via the train. We arrived at our overbooked hostel ('tis the high season apparently) and settled into our lovely tent in the backyard! We spent the day walking around the streets of Tel Aviv and, of course, visiting the beach. I can definitely say that it will not be very hard to move to this city! If Haifa is a place removed from the conflict than Tel Aviv is a pradise where conflict never even existed. Now, honestly I know this statement could not be further from the truth. Tel Aviv has a violent history of occupation, war, and conflict that dates back to biblical times, but mostly youth dominates Tel Aviv now. And what a youth they are!
Tel Aviv's artsy hipsters give places like D.C. and New York a run for their money! And as my fellow D.C.ers are aware, that is no small statement. Seriously, Black Cat, Brightest Young Things, the Red Derby.... Tel Aviv may have you beat in the ways of overzized specs, crimped hair, gaudy red lipstick, skinny jeans and the "i haven't showered in a few days" eau de perfume.
The streets are full of artwork and people. Nearly every wall has some type of graffiti (and not just tagging), or posters, or painting. And then there is the awesomeness of Carmel market in the old Yemeni district that rivals the size and yelling of the souks in Cairo, though not the touching, thank goodness.
I really enjoyed my time in Tel Aviv, and left with the comfort of feeling like I'd made the right decision about choosing to go to school there. I am nervous and excited about this part of my future, but as my coffee cup read - the thing I am nervous about will turn out well. Enshallah.