Progress.

Here’s how you know you’ve developed as a student over years of Israeli grad school:

First semester of Israeli grad school, three long years ago, you were told to write an end-of-term paper using the proper guidelines of the university’s thesis policy. You scrambled to find it after being told it was ‘somewhere on the website.’

After hours of searching through the terribly laid-out university website, you find the downloadable pamphlet, print out all 42 pages, staple it, and then begin to panic. Obviously it’s a Hebrew document. But it’s so official. So wordy. So haughty.

You sit and struggle and manage to pick up whatever little pieces you deem most important and leave the rest behind; you’ll worry about it later when you really need it for the end-of-degree project paper.

And now, three years later, you’ve come dangerously close to the deadline of the last project you’ll have to do in this degree. You’ve got 40-60 pages to write, and somehow have to squeeze that in between work and the holidays before the back-to-school date. You’re not too bothered by it though and the time has come to start.

You dig out that old paper-writing manual and brush it off. You flip through the three-year-old pages and scan for details. Suddenly, there’s so much more to learn here. When to use quotes, when to skip lines. When to spell out terminology in English instead of transliterating in Hebrew (though, that’s not your problem).

This pamphlet of guidelines is quite pleasant at this point, like an old friend who you’ve been weary of but have now learned they like to bake cookies. The 42 pages that seemed scary before seem like just enough. You settle into your chair and begin.

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On second thought, that’s not developing as a student over years of Israeli grad school; it’s actually more like being the student you’ve always been, but developing as the speaker of a second language, making it your own through pamphlets, thick and thin.