Fulfilling a Dream: The Realities of Living in Israel
When I moved to Israel two years ago, it was the fulfillment of a dream that I’d had for many years. Countless trips had failed to completely satisfy me, and I knew that only by truly living in Israel I would be able to make my dream come true.
I fantasized about living by the beach in Tel Aviv, speaking Hebrew like an aggressive, confident Israeli, shopping at outdoor markets for my groceries, and finding a dark, handsome Israeli man to fall in love with.
So packed with dreams of the amazing life waiting for me, I boarded a plane and flew away from my parents and friends in New York to Israel.
Within a month, I realized the following:
- No matter how much Hebrew I learned, the moment I opened my mouth and spoke with my distinctive American accent, all attempts at using Hebrew would be futile.
- My Tel Aviv beach fantasies somehow morphed into an apartment in the center of Jerusalem, an hour bus ride away from my friends and family.
- While the market is still my favorite place to people watch and scope out fresh produce, I started frequenting the far more expensive American-style supermarket across town, desperate for Skinny Cow ice cream and frozen vegetables.
Becoming an expat has been more challenging than I ever could have anticipated. What I thought I would never miss about America have become things that I fantasize about, and many of my priorities have shifted completely. I now take my lunch break in the late afternoon every day, timing it so that I can speak to my parents as they commute to work, thanks to the seven-hour time difference.
While I enjoy speaking Hebrew, and I am definitely improving every day, I find myself retreating to the comfort of fellow expat friends and places with English menus on a regular basis.
And the dark, handsome Israeli man I was on a mission to find? Well, that was a success (partially). I found the palest Israeli possible, but he has a beautiful accent, so I’m calling it a win. But even an international romance has its shocking realities. As we plan our wedding, I’m learning to deal with the idea that for the rest of our lives, wherever we end up living, one of us will be far away from our family, our home, and our comfort zone. We’ll rarely have all of the people that we love in one place at one time, and each day that will be a compromise.
Day in and day out, building a life abroad is an adventure. It’s a challenge, but every day is a new experience. Mundane tasks become epic stories, and each day I unlock a new facet of this place that is slowly becoming mine. Living the reality of my fantasy has not entirely been a dream come true. Instead, it’s been a taxing yet rewarding experience that has strengthened me and taught me more than I ever could have dreamed.