I had my Hebrew ulpan final. Hooray! The day was rainy and grey and I think the Russians were a bit nervous b/c the second hand smoke in the bathroom could have choked a horse. My buddy who comes in a tie and shirt wore a full pinstripe suit for the exam. He must subscribe to the "dress for success" theory, and good for him! I may have confused a couple of tenses but I'm sure I passed and it's impressive to see how much we've learned in a short time. You learn more than a language in ulpan. Clearly, whoever puts the curriculum together is aware that the students are undergoing tremendous amounts of change, and a lot of the reading material that we were given fell into two categories.
Category one was something like: "Wow, I thought I had it rough but this is someone who really had it hard." This category had texts about subjects like Helen Keller, the Ethiopians who had to sneak out of their country and walk on foot across the Sudan to meet the secret Israeli lifts taking them to Israel, and Natan Sharansky.
Category two: Wow, a lot of people have sacrificed so much to make Israel a reality and/or so many have dedicated their lives to making this country a reality.
Another thing I learned, though this was not in the required reading, is that germ theory hasn't surfaced on all continents. Many places are sort of pre-Pasteur. Though perhaps I shouldn't be so smug, as one of the main causes of disease in the US is doctors not washing hands.
We had a big celebration at home that night. The kids and I made a super delicious chocolate cake. This was a recipe that called for 3 cups of sugar and needed 3 bowls for the different mixing. I'm more of a one bowl type of cook (not a food blog--but I've been saying for years that couscous is a working mom's best friend) but this cake was seriously worth it. The next morning L had taped notes on everyone's doors that she designed to look like we had gotten mail from friends back home. I didn't want to tell her that one of our clues that the letters were from her is that the post office doesn't tape letters to the doors inside your house. Though I'm still not completely clear on how our local post office does work, in light of our spotty mail service. The kids have been writing letters lately and I've had a couple of trips to the U.S. The first time, the clerk let me know that the "stamps" I had put on the envelopes were actually just stickers. Oops. Guess I didn't realize that the book of stamps I bought is an interconnection of real stamps and just plain, old stickers. Since that time I've had varying answers as to how many stamps actually are required for a letter to the States and last week when I brought two letters and asked about the postage the clerk replied with "are they important?" Gee, I don't know. I mean, I want them to arrive where they're going and not just pay for a stamp to make the envelope look nice, because I do actually have stickers for that purpose.