I have now been living in Israel for a little over one year. As the months have gone by, I realized that it would have been nice to know a few things before arriving in this beautiful country.
So, what are they?
1. No transit on Shabbat
Before coming to Israel, I had planned to travel on the weekends. The country is so small, so why not hop on a train on Saturday morning, explore a new city, and then head back in time for dinner at night?
Sliiiiight problem with that plan.
Although you can do this during the week, this is not a reality on the weekend (which, if most people have work weeks similar to mine, is your only time off).
Beginning on Friday and ending after nightfall on Saturday evening, is Shabbat. During this time, the use of public transit is not allowed and therefore, transit stops running. You may (thankfully) still find one or two buses running within the city, but they will not be often and may not be going to your destination of choice. It almost feels like the whole country is on standstill.
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2. Everything is expensive
I have heard from others that due to the cost of living, families don’t really have much of a chance to have a single family house with land in Israel. Instead, they will most likely live in an attached apartment.
Hotels are also expensive. If you’re traveling to Israel, the hotel you end up in may not only be expensive, but its quality may not be comparable to what you are paying for (i.e., its worse). Especially on Shabbat, the prices of hotels can skyrocket.
Food can also be expensive depending on what you choose to eat. If you decide to have traditional Israeli foods (such as hummus, falafels, etc), food is decently priced. However, the moment you want something like sushi, be prepared to pay more than you would back home.
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3. The work week begins on Sunday
There is absolutely nothing inconvenient by this, it is just something that I still have not gotten used to.
Back home, the work week goes from Monday to Friday, which makes the weekend Saturday and Sunday. Here, the weekend is Friday and Saturday, so it feels a bit odd getting up and going in to work on Sunday when my body is telling me that it should be a lazy, care-free day.
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4. You need to plan when you go to the store
Back home, stores are open on most days at almost all times. Need groceries at 10:00pm? No worries, the store’s open! Forgot to buy something on Saturday? The store’s got you covered! Do you feel like a burger at midnight? Drive into the 24/7 drive-thru and order to your heart’s content!
In Israel, stores are not open early in the morning or late into the evening. Nor are most open on Friday afternoon or all of Saturday. If it’s a store owned by Muslims, it will most likely be closed on Friday. If it’s Jewish-owned, it will be closed on Friday/Saturday. If it’s a Russian store, it’ll be closed on Sunday. So, you really need to make sure you have all of your groceries or any other items during the week before sunset, or you’ll be scavenging for food from your cupboards all weekend.
*cough* definitely not talking from experience *cough*
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5. Bus drivers are a whole other breed of human
Bus drivers speed down the small Israeli roads and quickly put on their brakes at each stop they have to make. Being someone who has motion sickness, I don’t fare well – and if I can walk somewhere instead of take the bus, well we know what option I’d rather take.
and by best I mean not the best is when you just get on the bus and you’re still about to pay for your fare, when all of a sudden they start speeding off, leaving you flying down the bus and trying your best not to fall. I don’t know how people make it in this country without breaking their bones by not flying down the bus.
Are there any things you wished you knew before going to a certain country?