Sunday, 26 June 2011

Minor bus disaster

Minor disaster today.

One of my friends from the course here is called Marijn, from the Netherlands. Most people on campus know him as the one whose name they struggle to pronounce. He's a theologian, with a special interest in the Old Testament and a good grasp of classical Hebrew - but here to improve his modern spoken Hebrew. The two of us went into the modern city centre of west Jerusalem for a drink this afternoon.

We got off the no. 19 bus at King George Street, walked down to Zion Square, found a decent looking little bar, had our drink and a chat, then headed back up the hill to get the bus back to campus. We naturally assumed that the bus home would be on the same road as we'd got off, but on the opposite side, going the opposite direction.

We were wrong. For some reason, the no. 19 northbound and the no. 19 southbound both go in the same direction along King George Street. But with the legendary Jonny spatial awareness, I only realised this after we'd gone a mile and a half along King George Street in the wrong direction without finding a bus stop.

In other news, the Hebrew tuition is going fine. We were learning about rooms of the house today. We had to get into pairs and have a little dialogue; one person has put out a classified ad for a house to rent, and the other person rings up to ask about the house. It was all "how big is the bathroom" and "how many bedrooms" and stuff like that. Good for practising adjective agreements too.

After we'd all been doing that for a few minutes, my partner and I got unexpectedly hauled up to the front of the class to demonstrate our dialogue. We managed to get sidetracked into a massive haggle over the price: she wanted 9000 shekels a month; I was trying to get her down to 3000. The teacher thought we could have spent more time on the new vocabulary and the adjective endings, but said I was clearly getting into the Israeli mentality!

I do at least feel like I can have a very basic conversation with some degree of fluency now. It's all in the present tense, and on a limited range of subjects, but I can actually talk and listen, without being reliant on the script from the textbooks, and I'm starting to build some confidence. I think I can probably achieve a respectable amount in the five weeks I'm here for. Here's hoping.

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