AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!

I haven’t written in a while because I have been busy writing papers (Disclaimer: the first one will be published soon and the second one should be sent out by the end of the week!).

I said many the good things about this country but to be honest, it drives me crazy a lot of the time. Lately, I don’t think there was a day when I didn’t want to shout/cry/bite/punch-someone-in-the-face because of the frustration of how things do not work here.

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For example this morning, arriving at the train station two minutes before the train enters, I cannot access the platform, my card haven been inactivated without warning. No other choice than to buy a (much more expensive) regular ticket and try to fix this at the university. I thus have to wait half an hour for the next train – leaving me just enough time to share with you my frustration.

Should I talk about the three visits to Ikea because some pieces were missing every time, even though their website said that they had them in stock, and that after an hour of negotiation on the phone they agree to ship it to you but you will probably wait for a month? Or that an oven is delivered in a huge box, left in the middle of the kitchen for more than a week by a delivery guy who barely speaks any language but knows how to ask for money, and you have to wait for an technician who will take 30 seconds to plug it (and ask for more money) just to find out that it is not the size that was ordered? Or maybe should I mention the architect who forgot to connect the apartment to internet? I can tell you, one month without internet at home in the start-up nation feels just like Africa. Who knew it was so entertaining to make soup?

I wish I could be more like Israelis, especially those working in service, and just DO NOT CARE!! I am not. Not yet at least. I keep being frustrated, upset, nervous and aggressive although being nice would probably work better. But I have never been known for my diplomatic manners, and being used to Swiss service where things work and people are sorry to cause you trouble, I am afraid that it won’t be getting better anytime soon. Maybe after few more years here, I will become a Zen master. Until then, there is a long way to go…

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Grad Life

I haven’t written in a long time. There are many reasons for that: I worked a lot to finish my first paper that was finally sent last week, I feel less the need to write but above all, I didn’t have anything new to say about the Israeli society. Either it’s because I said everything I could about it (okay I didn’t talk about politics but honestly, “ein li koach” – I don’t have the courage) or because after 3.5 years here, I got so used to it that I don’t see it with the fresh eyes of the new immigrant. I will probably write one day about kids and education but for now I don’t have enough material.

My dear friend B. started her Ph.D. a little bit less than a year ago, and she wrote about how it is nerve-wrecking and interfering with her social and love life. She is a perfectionist and never stops digging deeper when she’s interested in something; so I am not surprised it is hitting her hard. I also know that because of her passion, pretty much anything I could say to discourage her to work too much and put her health at risk will not be heard. But it made me think about my own attitude toward the Ph.D.

From the beginning, I decided to take it as a job: I told myself I would not work more than 10 hours a day, would not work over weekends and not answer work related emails outside of office hours. I didn’t decide this out of laziness but rather because after observing people in the workplace or doing their thesis, too many of them were staying longer than they had to but actually working less. I truly believe in the idea that most people are not working efficiently more than 3-4 hours a day. Thus, we would probably be happier and more efficient if we would have half the time to do what we need to and no time to procrastinate. So I’d rather leave the lab and do something fun when I feel that I finished everything I could on that day, really relax, not think about it, and come back the day after with energy and will.

The no-mail policy worked pretty well as well. My supervisor sent me some at the beginning, like he does with the others, but I didn’t answer before the day after or the end of the weekend, and it soon became a very rare occurrence. Which turned out to be a very good thing given that after a while, simply seeing his name on my phone would make my stomach twist – but this is another story.

Sometimes I feel guilty. I feel like I should have worked more, read more, thought more about my thesis, and push things further. But if I am being honest, I know that I couldn’t really have done this without jeopardizing my physical and mental health. I mean, it is enough that I experienced my first panic attack already. I needed to relax in the evening and workout, I needed to spend time with friends and not think about my research, I needed the sleep and the vacations. I didn’t waste my time during work hours, and if things were slow I mostly read, not always related to my research but they say that it is important to be interested in all kind of things as the ideas might come from totally unrelated topics.

So I shouldn’t feel guilty for most likely not being able to finish my most interesting project on time. But I guess that it is the price of all Ph.D. students, just like the imposter syndrome…