Friday, March 20, 2009

"Life's What You Make It, So Let's Make it ROCK."

As my good friend Hannah Montana says, "Life's what you make it, so let's make it rock!" I have adopted this as my personal motto for life, and so far, I feel like I've done a pretty good job doing it. Here are just a few reasons why:

1.) I was able to cross going to the Temple of the Holy Grail (Petra, Jordan) with Indiana Jones (Matt) off my list of things to do before I die.
2.) We celebrated Purim (Feast of Esther=Jewish Halloween) with the drunk Jews. Shelby grew such a sexy 'stache so he went as the Man in Black from Princess Bride and asked me to be Buttercup. It was great fun.
3.) I went to the Herodian Steps where they recently uncovered the stones where they know Jesus walked. This was such a cool experience. Neil Armstrong said that walking on these steps had more significance to him than walking on the moon.

4.) I went on a Time Elevator through Jerusalem. We heard there was this really cool ride called the "Time Machine" so we walked around asking people how to get to the "Time Machine." Needless to say we got some really bizarre looks and then when we finally got there, we realized that it's the "Time Elevator." So all the Jews probably just thought we were crazy Americans looking for a time machine. Cool?
5.) Drumroll please....I am now going to be backpacking through Europe on my way home to America!! One little backpack + 17 days = Crazy. And I CAN'T WAIT! If that isn't making life rock, I don't know what is. I don't think it can get much better and I am one lucky, lucky, girl. My parents rock for encouraging me to go and I am so grateful for this awesome opportunity. So, let the good times rock and roll!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top 10 Reasons the JC is like Hogwarts

Just in case anyone was wondering if I am embarrassed by publishing this: the answer is a resounding "No!" Don't worry, I realize I have much better things to do with my time here than make a silly list comparing my real world to fake Harry Potter world, but I got bored in Jewish class (where it all started) and that's where many of these originate. Judge me all you want.

10 Reasons why JC Life is like Hogwarts:

10. Drafty stone corridors, minimum 8 floors, secret passageways.
9. We live with the teachers.
8. 4 people to one room. Yes, I know, Gryffindor Tower has 5 people to a room, but close enough...and that's a lot of people in one room.
7. Heated volley ball tournaments. Obv. not as cool as Quidditch, but still fun.
6. We went on a version of the Hogwarts Express, only instead of going from London to Hogwarts we went from Luxor to Cairo, and the train (food especially) was vastly under par with how I envisioned the H.E.
5. The 8th floor women's bathroom is like the 5th floor Prefect's bathroom.
4. We go on trips into the city like they go on trips to Hogsmeade.
3. Mrs. Norris' descendants infiltrate the area.

2. The Oasis is practically the Great Hall, only instead of the ceiling mirroring the sky outside, we have floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the city.
1. Ophir* looks like Voldemort.
*Ophir Yarden (Jewish professor) is a really cool guy and I mean that he looks like You Know Who in the nicest way possible. This pic was just too good to pass up.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Where in the World are the Movies Closed on Friday Nights?

Answer: Jerusalem. So it is a Friday night here at the wonderful JC. I spent the morning in class and then ventured off into the “Suk” which is the Jewish market. Fridays at the Suk are pretty crazy because Shabbat starts at sundown, so everyone is doing preparatory shopping beforehand. I bought Shabbat sweet bread which was divine and got a huge thing of fresh strawberries. To top things off, I saw two Jewish guys doing a rap, AND miraculously managed to catch it on video camera...the one time in my life where I’ve had it out when I needed it.

During dinner my friend Jess suggested we go and see a movie. I haven’t gone out to see a movie in far too long so I was willing to shell out the shecks and go see one. So we get all excited and run up to the Office to check the times, and we had 30 minutes to get to West Jerusalem. Then we realize that West Jerusalem shuts down on Friday nights, so we went to ask the people in the Office if they thought the theater would be open. The guy laughed at me in my face. So, while millions of Americans go to the movies on a Friday night, Jews and non-Jews alike are Shabbating it up in the Holy Land.

Fortunately we still find fun things to do around here since the whole city shuts down. Last Friday we had a Friday the 13th Disturbia party which was nothing short of rockin. Lauren, Chels and I went as 3 genies thanks to Chelsea's ever-growing genie pants collection.
And since I haven't updated in oh so long, here's a pic of Cate and I at the Dome of the Rock.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Walk Like an Egyptian

Thanks to the Bangles I grew up with a pretty accurate view of Egyptians. Needless to say, my experience was still nothing short of eye-opening and adventurous. I could probably write 5 pages on all the stuff I did, saw, and learned, but I already do for my one-credit field trip class, so if you want the essay--I'll hook you up. But, as I'm writing this instead of that right now, please don't hold your breath. Here are some highlights with some pictures. I have to export them before I upload them so they are super small...sorry. Let the fun begin!


Walking like Egyptians on the Khufu Pyramid, before the "Tourist Police" blew their whistle at us. [Disclaimer: I had a ragingly wonderful bout of viral flu that day, and for many days following which is the only excuse I have for looking so great in all these photos.]

This may look like a marvelous work of photoshop, but it's 100% real!

We rode feluccas (little boats) across the Nile to ride camels through a village on the West Nile. This was fun and made me so grateful to live in America. Also, my guide Abdul offered me free hashish at the end because he thought I was pretty and needed to try it. So, all in all, a great trip.

Karnak! This was for sure one of my favorites. Check those pillars out. This is where Pharaoh Ramses II and Moses dealt with that little issue of freeing all the Hebrews. No biggie!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Highlights

Shabbat Shalom! Since I'm lucky enough to be going to Egypt for 8 days, I decided to list some of the highlights before I leave. These are no particular order.

1. Visits to the Old City. An incredible mix of cultures, people, smells, shops and foods. It's surrounded by a huge stone wall, that might as well be a time warp. Falafel, nuts, jewelry, candy, scarves and very pushy shop keepers. Love it.

2. Shabbat at the Western Wall. We celebrate the Sabbath, or Shabbat, on Saturday like the Jews here. Last Friday at sundown we went to the Western Wall which is the holiest site to the Jews to ring in the Shabbat celebration. All the Jews pray to the wall and write their prayers on little pieces of paper and stick them into cracks in the wall, so I decided to join in. Then we danced around and sang Hebrew songs with all the Jews. My personal favorite was a girl with a lisp in her mid 20s thinking we were all Jews and kept telling us to "thing louder!"

3. Garden Tomb and Garden of Gethsemane.
Both of these gardens are within walking difference from the Center, which is such a blessing! I loved walking through and thinking about the amazing events that happened there. Both of the gardens are on major busy roads, but once inside the walls they are a little more peaceful and so beautiful. I already can't wait to go back!

4. Field Trips. We've gone on a geography trip to all the highest points in the city to see and look out over the Holy Land. We could see Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and Jordan all from the city! We also went on the Kotel tunnel tour of the Western Wall which was part of the retaining wall on the temple mount that King Herod built. The Jews have an underground synagogue there as its the closest thing to the temple. Next on the field trip list: Egypt!

5. Classes. As killer as my hefty classload is, I love learning about the history of the Middle East. So many things that we are learning about happened right outside the window of our classroom. I'm taking Old Testament, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Modern Near East Studies (Jewish narrative) and Modern Near East Studies (Palestinian narrative), and Arabic. Thankfully Arabic is only pass/fail, which I'm thinking is a good thing since I can't even pronounce many of the letters in the alphabet.

I don't know how this whole picture thing works and I don't really have the time or patience to figure it out. These only reaffirm the fact that I am awful at taking pictures, but I promised myself to at least try to take good ones in Egypt.A lovely assortment of Americanized kippas or yarmulkes. My favorites: Pringles and my Denver Nuggs.

Above: A stunning view of the Jerusalem Center from the wall surrounding the Old City. Below: Another stunning shot. This time of me in captivity.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes it's true: I'm blogging.

Due to many of my recent acquaintances and/or friends begging me to create a blog to describe my fabulous adventures overseas, I have finally surrendered in my efforts to remain blogless (okay, no one has really begged me to write one, but I think I am one of five people who doesn't have one here out of 79 kids). Not that I usually give in to peer pressure, but I was feeling left out as everyone went to blog while I would go check my e-mail, which only leaves me feeling empty and sorrowful inside when there is nothing new in my inbox.

So, here I sit on the top of Mt. Scopus in eastern Jerusalem, Israel, avoiding futile attempts to do homework. To sum up the past few weeks of my life in a nutshell: I upped and moved to the BYU Jerusalem Center from two weeks ago until April and I am loving every second of it! The city is beautiful, the people are great, the classes are hard, I'm running on little sleep and basically life couldn't be better. [Sidenote: I am also sporting my brand new camel leather "Jerusalem Cruisers" that were only a mere 50 Shekels so really, what could be better?] I hope to update you all, or at least my mom if she chooses to read this, about my journeys and findings here in the Holy Land!