Man With AK47 Walks Donkey and Other Travel Highlights

It is Thursday night in Israel, which is like Friday night in the US. Our studies are done for the week and now we are all taking some hard-won downtime. I’m sitting in my modest (but cute!) dorm room and writing this entry, wondering how in the world I’m going to relay to you the magic that is Jerusalem.  I wanted to tell you all about my first week, academics, dance, new friends etc.  but I think that is too much to read in one sitting. I will tell you that I had my first GaGa class today and all feels right with the world. So here is the story of my journey:

First of all, it took me a full 48 (50? 60? Maybe I’m still traveling and have totally dissociated?) hours to arrive here. I flew on standby which was tough but I am SO grateful. The discounted ticket was half of the billions of dollars the airline wants for round trip international flights. This discount afforded me the ability to save some money for little things like oh, you know, food. Flying standby can be equivocated to travel roulette: you play, but you may lose and losing could be really miserable. Fortunately I only had one very frustrating travel day in which I did not make it onto any departing flights. I ended up traveling to a different airport, staying overnight and trying again (successfully) the next day. This was followed by a 10 hour layover in JFK airport and the gut-wrenching, butt-clenching climax of waiting for my name to be called onto the flight to Tel-Aviv. I’m pretty sure that moment combined with the extended altitude exposure of a transcontinental flight is currently contributing to, if not solely responsible for, my post-travel constipation. But I digress…all you really need to know is: 1)I made it on the flight 2) I flew first class and my seat was also a bed (what?!) 3) it was awesome 4)fly standby if you can 5)thank you Jean!



I took a shuttle bus from the airport to Jerusalem. It was 65 shekels and totally worth it. I spent 2 hours on the shuttle and got to see a lot of the city, most notably: some orthodox neighborhoods and a man with an AK47 walking a donkey. I’m not kidding. It was real and it was by far the best “we’re not in Kansas anymore” moment a girl could ask for. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture, but you’re going to have to take my word for it. Ok? Ok. It is worth noting that the rolling landscapes and geometric architecture stole my heart from the get-go. It is also worth noting that if you get car-sick or have any kind of anxiety related to car travel, pack your Dramamine and/or Xanex. The drivers here give absolutely no f*cks, and while I personally find the unadulterated and visceral expression of road rage really satisfying, the car-sick thing got to me. There are a lot of hills and curves. A lot. I definitely felt like puking more than one time and sweated on the nice lady next to me. A lot.

Shuttle Bus

By the grace of God (who basically lives here…right? Anyone?) I arrived at the student village in-tact and un-puked. I got all checked in (thank you housing office for staying open), spilled coffee all over myself, had several incoherent (it’s not you, it’s me)  conversations with strangers and unpacked my stuff. I met one of my awesome roomates who gave me some sheets (I missed the organized shopping trip) and by 9PM I was all moved in.  Of course, I needed to go for a run. I called my program director to check in and we had the following conversation:

Me: “Hi! I arrived safely and need to go run, I do it every day I know it’s weird but it’s a thing I have to do. ”

Paul: “Okay yeah we are all a little crazy, you should go for a run.” (bless you, Paul) “Here’s the deal, 99% of the area around the campus is totally safe. However, there’s one street in one neighborhood that if you run there you will not only be putting yourself in a lot of danger, but it could also insight an international incident.”

Me: “Soooo…I’ll just run on campus until I am more familiar with the area.”

Paul: “Good idea. You’re safe here, but you’re not in Missouri anymore.”

Touche, Paul…

I got up at 5AM the next day to write, run and practice. It was suspiciously easy, which I now know is because of jet lag. My open window brought in the crisp breeze along with drifting the tones of morning call to prayer and a stunning sunrise view. School started with vengeance, and I’ll tell you more about that later. Thank you for reading!



BONUS PICTURE: Campus cat colony. Cats are like squirrels in Israel and David can never come here.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth Barnes says:

    I’m so glad you arrived safe and sound. I hope you had a good run – first day and every day. Can’t wait to read more about Gaga, DanceJerusalem, and ALL your experiences in Israel.


  2. Melissa McGowan says:

    OMG I love this! More, more and more! Thank you for taking us along for the ride!


  3. Ariel Irwin says:

    So glad you made it safely. Love that you are writing when you can. Looking forward to reading about all of your adventures. Love you and miss you.


  4. Shirley Virdon says:

    Brittany, you may not remember me, but I am a longtime friend of your family. So glad you are blogging (logging) your adventures. I’m sure all of us will get a very different understanding of how life really is in Jerusalem through your eyes! You write so well— Can’twait until the next one!!! Blessings!


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