Here is not Europe. You notice it in the plane already but sometimes from outside, since the level of development is the same, we tend to assume it works the same way.
– Every one, from the taxi driver to the lady who rents her flat, will want to tell his/her life and to know everything about yours even if you tell them you don’t speak Hebrew and you’re trying to sleep in the back of the cab.
– Time is a relative notion, better call people when you’re on your way to make sure they will be there when you arrive.
– Speaking of phone, since price of communication here are apparently cheap, they love to talk a lot on the phone. So if you call to visit a flat, the woman will ask you where you are from, what you do for living (which you could assume is to decide if she wants to rent you the flat), what’s your age (maybe less relevant for the flat?) and then will tell you that his son, who is also studying like you, has a girlfriend who just arrived from Europe and she’s really nice and if you want to meet nice people, you can call and you can meet. If her son had not have a girlfriend, she’d probably had wanted me to meet him…
– Streets have name, but signs are sometimes optional. And most of the time there is absolutely no number on buildings. Why would they since every building has at least 2 or 3 entrances that would have had the same number anyway? Again, take your phone with you and call when you (think you) are in front of the house.
– Administration is a nightmare. Even at the university, you need to get registered in three different offices before you can get a username so you can register to courses so you are officially in so they can make you a student card that will cost you xxx shekels per yer and is not super useful anyway etc etc…
– Secretaries leave their office early. So if you show up at 3.30 PM there are good chances that they are gone already. And if you go to a Hebrew lesson in the most remote building of the campus and when you are in front of the classroom there is absolutely nobody and you try to call the secretary who gave you the info and it’s already 5PM, then she’s gone! And you’ll never know where the class disappeared.
– Say good bye to high heels shoes. While packing I had the hardest time to choose between my 40+ pairs of shoes which one I would let and decided to take mainly flat ones because in the summer you don’t want closed shoes with heels. But since it’s “cold” (not more than 25°C today) girls are wearing all sort of boots -including UGGs…- so I put on my high heel boots. The problem is that the pavement, when there is one, is not flat. Even Place du Molard in Geneva (pour les connaisseuses) is easier to manage.- Oh and don’t ask for a coffee. It doesn’t mean anything. Nes? Short? Long? Espresso? Double? Milk? And so on and so on. Order falafels, it’s easier!
I’m sure there will be many other things that will perturb me so don’t be surprised if there are other posts on the subject. Meanwhile, here are some pictures I took yesterday while wandering around the city. I took some shot of nice building but I will take some of the more shady neighbourhood so you can have a better picture of what most of the houses look like.