guide to living in israel
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An Amateur's guide to the do's and don'ts of living in Israel

Fake it 'till you make it


1. Don't be passive

Don't be afraid to speak out and be assertive. Of course, it's difficult to be assertive when you're completely clueless to what is going on. But there are tons of phrases you can pick up on. And body language is a universal language. In Israel, workers won't come up to you and ask if you need assistance, they will assume you don't unless you assert yourself. Key words to use to be more assertive: yalla, sliha

2. Do take the bus


Taking the bus everywhere is a weird concept for me, especially when I've been driving or Ubering everywhere for most of my life. But in Israel, bussing is a necessity. Get a Rav Kav card or bring coins with you for the cheap bus ride.

3. Do check prices

Living in a foreign country is especially difficult when purchasing things. Because most Americans like myself might get a little lazy and not do the currency conversions. You might think something costs a lot more/less than it really does so it might be easier to just splurge. Ignorance, in this case, is really not bliss.

4. Don't pretend you're fluent

If you're trying to look for directions or asking a question, and you know how to say it in Hebrew, you might actually make it harder for yourself. In Israel, if you look even the slightest Israeli, people will speak Hebrew to you. So making them believe you're not a tourist, won't exactly help. They might respond with something you don't understand and then you're back where you started-clueless. Don't pretend you're fluent, but it doesn't hurt to learn a few words here and there.

5. Don't expect people to act American

Israelis have a distinct culture. They all seem to keep to themselves which is for sure not how America is, especially when it comes to shopping. So don't be alarmed if the cashier doesn't greet you with a "Hi how are you?" or doesn't tell you "have a nice day" on the way out. But honestly, they could've said it but I wouldn't know what it is. Anyway, don't get mad if they're being impatient or not giving you 100% their all. Customer service isn't as emphasized in most countries like it is in America. So don't expect a greeting at the store door and the greeting on the way out.

6. Do let people know you speak English

Sometimes it's really difficult to communicate with someone in Israel, but only if they don't know English. If someone speaks to you in Hebrew just respond, "English." And either they'll translate what they said or they just won't get the hint. But it really doesn't hurt to try. Most people do know English, all you have to do is make it clear that that's what you want.

7. Don't stress so much

Living in a new city is exciting, but living in a new city in a new country as well can be daunting. Don't stress. Israelis are pretty laid back despite being aggressive. So don't worry if you show up late to work or dinner with a friend.

8. Do ask how much a taxi ride is

A lot of the time, the taxi drivers can rip you off, charging a lot more for a ride that shouldn't cost that much. Ask how much it is before hopping in.

All in all, when adapting to living in a foreign country, you really do have to fake it till you make it sometimes. Don't make your mind up from the start that you can't adapt just because you're not from there. Learn as you go, and believe you belong, and you will, hopefully.

9. Do bargain with sellers

A lot of the time, especially at the Carmel Market, sellers will know you're American so they'll try to sell you something for more money than it's listed for. Don't fall for it.

10. Don't expect to get a "quick" meal

Most waiters/waitresses in Israel don't really have any concept of time whatsoever. They won't apologize if you wait an hour for the food or check. They won't ask how the food is. They let you take your time and they take theirs. Don't expect them to think you're done. You're not done until you let them know you are.

11. Do explore

It's a brand new city, and there's no need to stay on the same street eating at the same restaurant. Explore what's out there. Discover new places to go, new places to eat, new places to hang out with friends. You never know what you might find when you're not even looking.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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