"An ulpan is an institute or school for the intensive study of Hebrew. Ulpan (אולפן, plural ulpanim - אולפנים) is a Hebrew word meaning studio or teaching, instruction." - Thanks Wikipedia.
Gosh I love that site. I use Wikipedia like 15 times a day. Every time I want to look up a movie, tv show, actor, anything! The Internet is a wonderful wonderful place.
So back to ulpan. I am in a ulpan class that started in mid April. One morning I woke up and my mother said that she had signed me up for ulpan and it started the next day. Of course, I pitched a fit because why would I want to go sit in a class every morning and learn Hebrew. Learning, mornings, school. None of my particular interests. Then the ultimatum was put on the table. Either I go to ulpan or get a job. Obviously I didn't have a real choice here because how can I get a job in Israel if I don't speak the language? So ulpan it was.
Honestly, I am a bit surprised that it took that long for this ultimatum to be brought up. I was bumming around for 8 months before I got told that if I don't go to class the next morning, then I have to find a new place to live.
Since I know that my mom and dad are going to read this -- number one supporters right there -- thank you Mom and Dad for giving me those 8 months!
Every week, 5 days a week, I go and sit in class for the morning. Well mostly every day, and mostly for the whole morning. Sometimes, I come late. And by late I mean halfway through class. And sometimes I miss class all together. Only for good reasons though, of course.
I am the youngest person in my class, it is mostly middle aged people, with a couple scattered people that are in between my age and middle aged. As is true with any random group, there are a large number of personality types and a large number of backgrounds. This is basically asking for me to make fun of them.
First we have the cliche hippie wanna-be, who isn't actually a hippie at all because he looks like he googled 'hippie' and decided to dress and act based on that, when in fact the whole idea of a hippie is their individuality and lack of conformity. So good job bro, you have properly conformed to the stereotypical image of a hippie, down to the slow stoner voice and carrying around a guitar for impromptu sing-alongs.
Then there is the 33 year 'surfer dude' from LA. He came to Israel on a spiritual journey and carries around a Bible wherever he goes, because he is constantly hearing the voice of God. He sits in class and has pages and pages of notes all around him on the table, and despite having been in class from the beginning, does not seem to really be learning a thing. Every time the teacher calls on him, he starts saying the answer and upon realizing everyone is waiting for him, he stammers and freezes up. It makes me wonder what he has written on the sea of yellow legal pad paper that surrounds him on the table.
He's also the guy who blurted out that he got rejected by a girl the night before when she told him that she is out of his league. Oh yea, and yesterday he got deported from the country and can't come back for 5 years because he didn't renew his visa. I guess that he will have to find God back in LA.
This leads us to A- the frumpy, married woman. She is middle-aged, has a husband who's learning all day and is pretty naive. She didn't get the 'out of my league' comment. The whole class is laughing and she was sitting there all perplexed. When she gets called on, she has a total panic meltdown which causes her to forget the answer. She's incredibly nosy and one day she picked up my Kindle and turned it on in the middle of the book I was reading. I'm pretty sure I did a slow motion 'run and grab' -- Lady you really don't want to see that.
I used to sit at the table right near the door and next to me sat the Korean. You know when you are in grade school and there is always that one person in your class who knows all the answers? First to raise their hand, can barely contain themselves, randomly blurting out the information that they know? By luck of the draw I sat down next to that person on my first day of ulpan and only realized too late that she is that person. Except when you are an adult, its no longer considered cute to say the answers when you aren't called on. When you say your answer over mine, its annoying. When you say your answer over mine -- and its wrong? Not cool.
Now we have another frumpy middle-aged lady. She has an ordinary name and could be from any state in America. She's plain and a cliche. A wedding ring, but no diamond. A little heavyset and a sour look on her face. She sits leaning against the wall with a constant scowl and despite her age all I can picture is an angry teenager who doesn't want to be here.
One day I decided to have a conversation with her and realized that she's actually pretty similar to me, super sarcastic and cynical. Now I enjoy talking to her, she's one of my favorite people in the class, and I am just a judgmental b*tch.
I should probably start paying more attention to the teacher, and less attention to the people around me. Hey, this way I might actually learn Hebrew. But life would be a lot less interesting.
Oh, I am accepting donations for the coffee needed to keep me awake in class.