Cassi-Lee Gewer: Summer Ulpan Is Over And Mechina Is About To Start

Tara Ryan Shalom everyone, I’m sitting here writing this blog entry with a newfound ability to understand “Israeli” Hebrew (i.e. not slow and clear) and beginning to speak it even more fluently– and that is BECAUSE OF SUMMER ULPAN AT HEBREW UNIVERSITY.

With an intensive six week period behind me –full days of speaking, reading and writing in 'Ivrit', my life, here as a Hebrew U student is slowly, excitingly and very positively turning into that of a local Israeli.

You might want to know what it is like to be in the world renowned Ulpan at HU, and so I would like to give you a run through of an average day here on Mount Scopus: If you are like me, and live in the K'far Ha'Studentim, you wake up around 7:30am, and take that famous and rather breathtaking walk-- filled with inspiring and priceless views of the Old City and surrounding Jerusalem-- to the HU Mount Scopus campus.

Walking into school (breathless after that view) you are met by your friends – Jews, Arabs, Christians, Armenians and many other religions and nationalities alike. You take a sweet, sweet walk through the botanical gardens on campus and then enter through the doors of the Rothberg International School. Surrounded by friends from France, Peru, USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Korea-- you name it – everyone sits in the cafeteria and gets a morning beverage to start the day.

While sitting in class –one is only allowed to speak in Hebrew – everyday has something new to offer and learn. For example, learning a grammatical rule that for me, as a Jew, unlocks the meaning of words in the Siddur (prayer book) that I have read (but never really understood) – until now; learning songs that we hear at the Yom Yerushalayim concerts and singing them in class or learning about the History of Bezalel in hebrew; sometimes it’s a lecture on the History of Jerusalem, given to you by a brilliant professor -- you guessed it--IN HEBREW; you might watch Israeli adverts on YouTube; tour the famous streets of Jerusalem; or even learn new dances; within any given day of Ulpan at HU, ANYTHING can happen.

My goal this semester is to write at least one blog post in Hebrew – without the help of my dear friend, Google Translate. Since graduating the summer ulpan, the odds are looking good that I might meet this goal! I am officially in level Gimmel (the third out of five levels needed for entrance into the Israeli HU program).

That, my dear readers, was the daily success of the Summer Ulpan (I kinda wish that I had another one coming up) –but wait, Mechina is a whole year of it! YAY. I am extremely happy to announce that I will be taking the Humanities track of the Mechina program, which means that due to my Hebrew level--the math, history, creative writing courses are all taught in Hebrew. So with four more days to go until the Mechina year begins, I am actually for one of the first times in my life ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY, WHOLE HEARTEDLY, MAMASH excited for my first day of school.

About Cassi: Eighteen year old Cassi Grewer just completed her first year at the Rothberg International School in conjunction with Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and the Art Jerusalem Program. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Cassi has been blogging about her experiences at RIS at her blog spot, The Art of Jerusalem and will continue to do so as she embarks on another year at RIS and works towards becoming a student in HU’s Israeli programs.Cassi also serves as the South African ambassador for HU's overseas programs.