Well, we are in high gear cleaning and packing our house. We leave in a little over a month and have to be out of our house in a few weeks. We are taking advantage of this to actually clean and clear ourselves of accumulated "stuff". We realized that in the 10 years in our house, we have not done a thorough divestment, editing, purging of things. We don't see ourselves as big consumers, but doing this leaves us scratching our heads with regards to all this "stuff", much of which were invited into our home only to be treated like a prisoner in solitary confinement. Then there are the many books going into boxes. I cannot depart with them, but I question why I keep these books that I've read. Is this just my version of a hunter's trophy room? If nothing else, this has been teaching us about our own levels of consumerism and relationship to "things".
The other interesting aspect of this cleaning is the nostalgia drifting into our household. It has acted like a speed bump to getting things done for everyone. It just takes a "comfort toy" under a big pile to cause a day-long detour for our kids. It could be old legos, a book, or the old play tent my daughter inhabited for a few days. For me, it's been things like labeled and unlabeled DVDs that contain pictures of my kids as young'uns. For all of us, we have our own "treasures of comfort" needed at this time of transition and nervousness about the next year.
We are becoming hyper-aware of the politics of Israel, especially with the recent flare-ups there. Checking the Israeli newspapers online is a regular routine now. It is that undercurrent of war and conflict there that we hear about in the news. Which is why the most common question to me is "are you concerned about your safety?" The reality is, however, that every crime statistic is much higher in the US compared to Israel. Being hyper-aware of our surroundings will continue here and there, but we will not have fear drive our decisions. Fulbright has provided a great deal of guidance to being safe and we'll be having another orientation once we arrive for the most current conditions.
I just returned from the Ecological Society of America's 2017 Annual Meeting in Portland, OR. The most common response from those who have been to Israel, was "the food was awesome!". Person after person was warning me about the weight I will be gaining, but isn't this the land of the almighty Mediterranean diet?? I will just give in to it and let it take me where it must. We've been exploring restaurants online (I know, I know, we should be packing!) and indeed, wow! the food looks amazing! Personally, there are 5 parts to Israeli culture I am really looking forward to experiencing on a deeper level (not necessarily in order): food, music, nature, history, and people. More on these later...