Shalom! My first few weeks in Israel have been so incredible and I couldn’t wait to share! I landed in Tel Aviv two weeks ago with so many emotions running through me. I was excited to be in one of my favorite cities, anxious about making friends, and naturally slightly concerned about safety. However all of my fears have been settled over the past few weeks. Tel Aviv is such an incredible city with a lively nightlife scene, picturesque beaches, and security measures like I’ve never seen. I am also fortunate to have the greatest roommates. We spend almost every weekend on the beach, eating hummus, and doing ulpan (intensive Hebrew) homework! Although life has been mostly carefree, I have stumbled upon some challenges in these past few weeks. The first challenge is the schedule of our ulpan. Our intensive Hebrew class is 8:30am-1pm from Sunday-Thursday with a test every week for four weeks. The teachers are incredibly talented and I am shocked at how great my Hebrew has gotten since I’ve been here. However, the schedule is very demanding and the amount of material can be overwhelming at times. The second challenge has been budgeting for city life. As we all know, DC is one of the most expensive cities and I assumed that TLV, like some other major Middle Eastern cities, would be relatively inexpensive and affordable. In reality, Tel Aviv is definitely comparable to Washington DC in terms of living expenses, which is something I wish I budgeted more for. Lastly, one of the biggest differences between Israel and America is Shabbat. Shabbat is observed from Friday afternoon-Saturday afternoon. Because of Tel Aviv’s secular society, some stores and restaurants are still open, however most of the city does shut down which makes travel and social gatherings very difficult. Despite the smaller challenges I have faced, I am looking forward to traveling within Israel and to other countries, starting regular classes, and continuing my education on Israel and all it has to offer. Lehitra’ot!