Today I turn three… and am no longer 'new'.

So apparently, starting today, I am no longer considered an olah chadasha (new immigrant). That seems to be the consensus from other olim, the Israeli government and Nefesh b’Nefesh.

Do I feel vatik (senior)? Certainly not… But I suppose I don’t feel new anymore, either.

Whatever I am in numbers or years, I know that what is really interesting is all I’ve accomplished in three years of ‘newness’: Finding a city, finding friends, finding a masters program, finding homesickness… Searching for jobs, registering for a masters program, getting a job, starting Israeli graduate school… Discovering the world of Israeli mediation, discovering the world of Israeli hi tech… Finding a new career, finding a life partner, finding a neighborhood, settling in an apartment… Learning about the various cultures that surround me… Finding new friends, finding a new city, coming close to the end of the masters program…

What freaks me out is not that I’ve been living in Israel for three years; it’s that I haven’t been living in New York for three years. What’s happened since I left? How has the city changed? Where in life are the people I left behind? If I returned, would they recognize me?

And what have I learned in three years? I’ve learned a lot about patience, creativity and open-mindedness, which I still think are the three things you need to make it in Israel long-term – and I now think life in general, as well. I’ve learned a lot of new Hebrew. I’ve learned that if you can laugh, you can enjoy your status of ‘new’ and actually take pride in it.

But, I’m finally here, no longer new; here, on the other side of three years.