Week 5: Aliyah 

Another week has come and gone for me. Tonight I had dinner with a friend from home, who was staffing birthright. She asked me, “Are you missing Berkeley yet?”. I replied, “no”. She was socked and I was too a little. I mean I have had just been living life here in Israel, almost like I’ve been here my whole life, and I don’t have any complaints. Yes its only 5 weeks but I feel just as much as home as I did back in Berkeley. I have my doggy that I come home too, I work my full time job every day and I have my private practice part time. I’m even making time for the dating scene (I know shocking). So for me life here is very similar to back home (except I’m surrounded by more conservatives than I am used too).

Last week I put the wrong pin into the ATM which resulted in the bank taking my card. Well unfortunately I now need a new card but I have to go to my branch in Tell Aviv to get this done. The problem of course is that I work all week and the bank is closed on Sundays. So now I’m learning to make due on the little bit of cash i have while making sure i can still get around on public transportation. This is the most annoying hurdle so far and in truth it’s not really that big of a deal. 

I continue my daily commute from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. I take three buses and its a 2-3 hour trip each way. To most people this is crazy sounding (especially since I wake up at 3:45am) but as of late I’ve been using the commute time to work. To write blogs (like I’m doing now) or to commiserate online with other online therapists. As much as i love my job, i have been missing therapy. I participated in a study group for the NMT certification I am apart of last night (for folks living in Europe/outside the US) and it was so nice to talk about my passion-trauma. To reflect upon dissociation and what this looks like in foster youth etc. As i feel more settled (minus having my own apartment) i haven been wanting to jump into my practice and do therapy. So this has been occupying my time as well.

Now let me quickly change topics and talk about apartment hunting in Tel Aviv. It’s absolutely crazy here. The apartments in my budget (4,000 shekels which equals roughly $1,000) are hard to come by. Most apartments have multiple bedrooms (I only want the one) which basically forces you to have a roommate or two. Plus with multiple bedrooms you get to charge 6,000 shekels plus and so your in the money. Now mind you Israel’s wages are incredibly low, its one of the main reasons many American Olin go back because the pay is really ridiculous. If i want a crappy apartment then i can pay far less than 4,000 shekels but the apartments for 2,700 shekels that I’ve seen are the shit. I saw a studio/loft (actually a couple) where the toilet, sink and the shower head (which hung from the ceiling) were all in this teeny tiny space, like maybe 10-20 foot space. There was one window and maybe one counter-it was the size of a bedroom. I believe the apartment used to be a penthouse or something and they just divided up the bedrooms and made them studios. And it was also in the ugly part of town. I decided that since i work my butt off all day plus i do online therapy from home, it’s best to have a nice home to return too/work from. Plus if I don’t like where I live I’ll be miserable, so I said nope to those places. The other option is roommate so living outside of Tel Aviv.I would live outside of Tel Aviv before dealing with roommates. I just can’t be worried about someone else-I need/want my own place, so I will continue to commute until i find one i like. 

I was also very sick last week, the worst illness I’ve had in years. I had the chills, sore throat, and lots of coughing. Well the cough is the only thing left, with a sore throat here and there but it definitely made me miss my family. Autumn wanted to walk and play at all hours of the day and night and i was cold and tired. I wished there was someone around who could’ve dealt with her. 

So really i think my acclimating to Israel as nicely as i have, despite the language barrier is the fact that I 1. Mentally prepared to be here, by researching jobs and cost of living and 2. Accepting that i would be starting all over at a minimum wage job that was physical. I think if i thought i would come and be a therapist easily and waited for that elusive job i would be incredibly miserable right now and talking about going home. Lucky for me that i have a profession in which i could have my own business. 

It’s week 5 and it feels longer than that.i feel like I’ve been here my whole life despite knowing very little I feel comfortable and safe. I am making connections with people and I am keeping old connections alive. The days don’t feel like adventures any more but they do feel special and new. Even on 5 hours a sleep a night i wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start my day. Israel truly is home.

Week 3 & 4

It’s been a while since I last updated and there’s a lot that has gone on, hence the challenge with writing. 

First things first I’m still commuting from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv five days a week. I’m heading into week four in Israel and three weeks of commuting. I’m commuting because I have not found an apartment in Tel Aviv in my budget. There was a couple I liked but got snatched up within a day. So not there is an apartment I really want and the guy is very slow responding. I had hoped to spend my first birthday in Israel in my new apartment but that was not possible. Not sure what type of advice I can offer people apartment hunting other than be weary of any apartment in Tel Aviv for under 3,000″ shekels a month. They are super teeny in ridiculous way. 

The day of my birthday was not so great. I worked and got yelled at for returning late from my break. That’s also the day I lost out on the apartment I really wanted. The following day I celebrated with my friends and had some yummy Thai food and a little dessert. Hanging out with them in Tel Aviv, even briefly was really nice, I haven’t done that since I made Aliyah. The commute is so crazy and I’m apartment hunting so there feels like there is no time to do anything else. On the weekends I have to leave the home I’m staying in and so also adds to the challenges I’m having. 

Then capital one made an error and charged my account twice so I have to wait for a refund from them plus my phone unlocking was having challenges. All in all this past week has been tough. 

But I accomplished a lot of other stuff. I got my debit card and my checks from the bank. I signed up with a cellphone company and I got my Rav Kav (metro card). I’m still happy and loving Israel (kosher meat everywhere) and I’m not missing the states yet. I miss my friends and family but I talk to my mother daily and social media keeps me connected so I feel good. 

My biggest source of stress is this apartment thing and I wish I was rich so I can just pay for an overpriced one just to be done with it all. I know soon it will happen just be patient. There is a place I really want so fingers crossed that it works out for this week. 

I got sick this past Sunday. It’s the second time since I’ve arrived that I got sick but this was way worse. I had the chills and aches and pains. IT was bad I had to call out of work, but it was worth it because I’m feeling a little better. I also realized that I have not been focusing on my private practice and that pains me. I really miss doing therapy. I love my job, the kids are so darn cute it’s ridiculous and the day just flies by, but I miss therapy and healing. I don’t really know what to do to get this part kickstarted. I applied for insurance back in the states (did it in October in hopes that I’d be ready to go in December but due to some hiccups it never happened so I’m back at it again). I know it’s a good way to get busy quickly but I don’t want a practice filled with dealing with insurance paperwork haha. Plus the time it will take to get paneled will be a couple months so for the time being I have to try to generate clients. I’m really looking into doing more work with teens who have been sexually exploited and so this is really why I want to get on with insurance panels so I can help them. I read an amazing book called Pushout, which talked about the ways in which schools almost force African-American girls to drop out due to the policies (mostly around fighting/violence and missing school) and ignoring how many of these young girls are being sexually exploited/sexually abused. IT broke my heart reading this, especially since it was happening in my backyard (Oakland, California). The book talked about how we sexualize African-American girls, like they are not even allowed to be children because of the way men treat them and see them. So any way I want to be apart of this healing, more so than anything so I am feeling very frustrated and stuck not knowing which steps to take in this process other than insurance. 

So overall as my first month in Israel has arrived I’ve pretty much done everything that I had planned with the exception of turning in my health insurance paper and finding an apartment. I know my way around my neighborhood and the bus systems have been easy to navigate. I’ve done some minor socializing and I continue to work. I’ve also decided to update my blog weekly, every Wednesday, since Wednesday was the day I arrived it feels fitting to blog about my aliyah on that day. Now it’s time to wind down for bed (it’s 8:40 pm and I get at 3:30 am). 

Autumn’s First Week

autumnNo one tells you how hard making aliyah with you dog is. I’m not talking about the expense of getting vaccines and health certificates nor am I talking about the plane ride which is a challenge in and of itself. I’m talking about when your settled in your apartment/relative/friends house and your dog is confused and in distress. With this confusion and distress comes separation anxiety. My Autumn was all ready a little prone to this but it has seemed to multiple with our arrival to our new home. 

Those first 12 hours: We arrived late on Wednesday to the new temporary home. I unpacked all my stuff in the room and let Autumn wander around the home. I went to bed around midnight and then woke up around 2 because I could not sleep. Around 3:30 I walked her and then got ready for my interview in Tel Aviv. When I left her at 10 minutes to 5 am she barked and whined so loud I could hear her from the street. I later learned that she barked for about half an hour and then she was quiet and calm. As I spent the following day home, exhausted, she followed me from room to room. When the home owners returned she had to learn the rules. No bedroom and no kitchen (this one is more lax). The other we discovered was she needed to be put away while guests were over for dinner. Very good choice since she is a food thief but extremely hard for both her and I. 

I looked online about how to stop the barking and crying when I leave. I have been implementing them during the day, practicing leaving for short periods of time and not giving her any excited emotional attention when I leave nor when I return. So far it has not fazed her. She continues to cry and whine when I leave, although during dinner she made it about 20 minutes without making any noice (she had a large tree to attend too). Unfortunately this has not stuck and I am at a loss as to what to do.

I became incredibly tearful with the stress and pressure of trying to pacify my dog, who I love and I know she’s afraid and confused, while also being a good house guest and trying to make keep the home quiet and peaceful. To add insult to injury so far Autumn is not a fan of the family dog. She seemed scared by him even though he only wanted to play with her. So he has been confined to the bedroom of one of the kids which he does not like. I felt that Autumn should be confined as well and I thought it would be easier if she remained in the room we have been staying in while we ate dinner and my hope would be for when I leave for work Monday. 

So due to my anxiety and feeling like I needed to do something I started watching Cesar Milan videos. I watched one on Separation anxiety. He talked about exuding confidence when giving command to your dog as well as making sure your dog is nice and tired as well as in a calm state when you leave. So later in the day when the house was relatively quiet I practice with Autumn. I took her for a walk and then I waited for her to be laying quietly on the bed. I got my jacket and my purse and I sat on the bed. Just like in the video as I move Autumn watched me with her ears back looking confused. But she then laid back down.This is when I left. I stepped out, telling her in a calm confident voice to stay and that I would be back. I left the room and walked a little bit down the stairs to hear if she made noise. She made a little noise but then she was quiet.I repeated this a couple of times before stopping. 

So the following day was the true test when I left the house for work. I walked her for an hour and then left at 5:30 am for work. She stayed in the bed calmly when I left and I didn’t hear a peep as I left the house. When I spoke to the family that evening (12 hours later) I learned she did not make a noise at all. The second day of work was the same thing and I felt that we had mastered the Separation Anxiety. 

 Other things that I noticed in Autumn which let me know she was in distress:

+Throwing up blood (once and could be because she found something on the ground to eat)

+Bloody poop (same as above)

+Lack of Appetite-eating once a day

+Refusing treats

+Increased Thirst

+Very quiet-she’s a vocal dog usually

+Trouble sleeping during the night and wanting to go to the bathroom all night

A full week after our arrival Autumn was back to her normal self. She was back to eating twice a day and she would make noise when it was time to eat. Her bathroom habits were good and she was sleeping through the night. 

So that has been Autumn’s first week. Unfortunately due to my host family having their children back in town Autumn and I are staying the weekend at the downstairs neighbors house.I’ll create a separate blog about this experience.