4 Tips for Everyday Life in Israel

February 11, 2016

From haggling in the market to being bold while shopping, here are my tips for successfully navigating everyday life in Israel.

After living in Israel for a little over three weeks, I already have some tips that can help you in getting acclimated. From haggling in the market to buying simple groceries to interacting with the many felines all over, day-to-day life in Israel is very different from what I’m accustomed to in the US. Here are my tips for successfully navigating everyday life in Israel:

4 Tips for Everyday Life in Israel

Get ready to bargain

Israeli markets are famous for haggling. This is difficult for me to remember because in the USA, the price is generally the price and it isn’t up for negotiation. Last weekend, a friend and I decided to head to the Old City. We popped into a shop that sold loads of souvenir type shirts and gorgeous scarves. The shop owner had displays of various shirt designs, so the first step was to pick a garment and then a design. I asked the store owner how much a Hebrew University hoodie cost. He told me it was 120 shekels (around $30 USD–not a bad price).

I told him I wanted to buy two hoodies, but only had 100 shekels on me, so I said that I would come back. He immediately began bargaining with me, telling me he would give me two hoodies for 150 shekels. That was a pretty sweet deal, but I told him that I still only had 100, and that I promised I would come back. He must have really wanted to make the sale, because he came back with 100 shekels plus $10 US dollars.

Again, I told him that I only had 100 shekels. He finally offered me both hoodies for 100 shekels! In the end, the store didn’t have any of the colors I wanted, but I enjoyed the bargaining experience. I will definitely return to his shop the next time I am in the Old City.

Arm yourself with patience and chutzpah in the market

People move very slowly! They get right in your way, cut you in line, and let their children scream. The stores are also very crowded on Friday mornings because everyone is doing their Shabbat shopping. I prefer to go in the evenings after class. Because my Hebrew isn’t great, I sometimes struggle to find things that are gluten-free or even just the right packet of soup mix.

The good news is that there are usually American olim (immigrants) doing their shopping, too, and they have a knack for picking up on newbie confusion. More than once, a kind immigrant has helped me find the right item. My best experience to date was shopping with my Israeli friend, but I can’t expect her to come with me all of the time.

Having a sense of chutzpah–and putting yourself first–is also very important when shopping. I was intimidated in the beginning, especially since I hate crowds, but just this morning, I grabbed the very last shopping cart and went on my way. Don’t be afraid to be a little bold!

4 Tips for Everyday Life in Israel.

Prepare to get sick

I spent my entire third week in Israel with a nasty cold. I rarely get sick, and I even beefed up my vitamin regimen when I got here. In fact, I brought cold medicine from home, but it didn’t even touch this cold. I also only managed to find 50% orange juice in Jerusalem.
If you hate pulp like I do, you’ll either have to choke it down or strain it yourself. I couldn’t even find cough drops at either grocery store near campus. So, be sure to pick up cough drops, Israeli cold medicine, soup mix, and anything else you like to have on hand–before you get sick.

Indulge your love of cats

People might have warned you that the cats in Israel are like squirrels or pigeons, but this has not been my experience. They are quite friendly and are more interested in love than food! I have essentially disregarded the warnings from the university as well as my friends, and I offer attention to most of the cats I come across, even if I’m in a hurry.

There is one small orange one that hangs out in the laundry room, and he snuggles on my lap every time. I am pretty sure I heard another girl say in Hebrew to her friend, “What is it with Americans and cats?” Either way, I’m okay with being the strange girl on campus who pets all of the cats. I have more photos of cats than I do of the beautiful scenery.

4 Tips for Everyday Life in Israel


4 Tips for Everyday Life in Israel

Have you traveled to Rome, Israel? How was you trip? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

4 Tips for Everyday Life in Israel photo credits: Amanda O and Unsplash.

About Amanda

Amanda is a 30-something who just graduated with a BS in Justice Studies, as well as a certificate in the Arabic Language & Culture. She loves foreign languages, and is studying at the Rothberg International School before (hopefully!) heading off to grad school next fall. She grew up in a tiny town in Upper Michigan, and spent a large chunk of life living in coastal South Carolina, and has also lived in Boston and Cincinnati. Her favorite place to live so far has been New England, and she is a die hard New England Patriots fan. She has two dachshunds and writes a travel blog at zesheli.wordpress.com.

One thought on “4 Tips for Everyday Life in Israel

  1. Emily
    September 29, 2016

    Hey Up-er!
    I am a troll and was happy to see your blog! I also attended Rothberg. Email me if you find this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *