A degree in degree-getting.

So a couple weeks ago I shared the latest Bar Ilan update that standing between me and my diploma was a ptur in English.

One moment; allow me to rephrase that…

Approximately one fortnight ago, yours truly revealed an update on the outstanding situation regarding the university of Bar Ilan, where the accomplishment of a Master’s Degree was halted due to the matter of an exemption in the English language.

After over a month of bureaucratic ridonkulousness (yes, that is English!) I managed to get through to a wonderful angel named Simone, originally from the continent of North America, who speaks – you got it – English. Helpful since everyone else I spoke to was leading me to the wrong offices or telling me they’d call back someday.

Yesterday I checked my mailbox – and lo and behold! – received myself a nice big envelope with my completed transcript and ishur that my degree has been completed. I should be getting the official diploma at a ceremony whoknowswhen, 2010. Or maybe 2017?

No  matter. It’s only taken four years. I can now register for my extra tax credit.

And start my PhD.

Staaaam.

The lizrael update I've been waiting for.

Don’t know about you, but I can speak for myself, my husband, my family, some of my closer friends, and probably some coworkers and ex coworkers when I say that this is the lizrael update I’ve been wanting to share for a long, long time… In fact, I can pinpoint the time. It would be here.

But now I can finally say: I’ve handed in my very last graduate school work. It was actually a couple weeks ago, but it was too good to believe on the spot so I’ve been waiting until it sank in.

Don’t get me wrong; I have no confirmation except my own calculations and last year’s assurance from a department secretary that my student file is ready to be stamped This one’s good to go. I also want to know that my final internship project has passed. As far as I know, I’ve handed everything I can possibly hand in, taken all credits and finals, and paid (or had others pay) all monies to complete my requirements. If this is truly the happy ending, then my official graduation won’t be until the end of this academic year.

But, with a little optimism uncharacteristic of an Israeli student, I will say:

No more teachers, no more strikes.

No more Minhal Studentim hikes.

Some people have already asked me, “What are you going to do now?” And in my head I’m replying, “Think up my next academic feat,” while my mouth brings forth, “Birth a baby and perhaps raise it.”

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.

————————————————

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.

A little late, but a lizrael update.

Haven’t done this in a while, but here goes.

Aliyah

At this point, I’ve been living in Israel for three and a half years. Seems like so much longer… I can now count ‘old friends’ I had when I first came, I have a lengthy list of apartments I’ve lived/crashed in, I’ve been married for nearly two years and traveled internationally with an Israeli travel document six times.

The reasons I stay in Israel are different from the reasons I originally came. When I landed here, I was a single post-graduate with a lot of different directions and vast openness. Since then, I’ve worked at a steady job for three years, which has opened me up to a career path I never would have expected for myself, but warmly welcome. I’ve married a non-American/non-Israeliborn from across the world, so it will never be easy to pick up and leave Israel for us; it’s not a matter of moving to an obvious place.

Also, I’ve invested so much into living here, mentally, and I’ve lost touch with reality in the States. I’ve gotten used to a lifestyle here that I couldn’t have back there with ‘only’ this much effort.

It’s not that I’m thinking of leaving Israel, but I really don’t think about it because it’s now, simply,  where I live, where I get my paycheck from, where I’ve started building my house and home.

School

I’m on the very last leg of my toar sheni, my graduate degree. Yeah, remember that goal I set out for myself three years ago? Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University.

I’m currently engaged in a required ‘internship’ which actually takes place at my job. I’m working on creating a dispute resolution program for an online social Q&A community. I like that it has nothing to do with international relations or politics (although sometimes it feels that way).

I’ve come to realize that being friends with the intertubes is the way to go if you’re going to live comfortabley in Israel. That being said especially as I’ve been told by professors that no one makes a living here off only doing gishur (mediation). Online Dispute Resolution is a curious path I’m looking forward to exploring in the coming years.

Which leads me to my work…

Work

By some interesting twist, three years ago I ended up working in the marketing department of an internet company and I’m still there, job having evolved over the years, but a rainbow of experience gained.

The job that was supposed to be my financial parent through grad school became a career path – who knew? In fact, I’d argue I’ve learned way more at the job than the university, even if the two subjects are completely unrelated.

I tell people now that if you are open, have mother-tongue English and some internet savvy in your pocket, hi tech is the way to go here in Israel. You don’t have to start your own start up, either. There are plenty of jobs right now and the business is flourishing. And because it’s based in Israel, and you speak mother-tongue English, you are a step ahead in gaining a new career that you can really leverage. Just be open to learning some code.

Family

As I said above, we’ve been married for nearly two years now; we have a Tu B’Av anniversary coming up. Marriage is everything and nothing like I thought it would be, in the best possible ways. And I know why that is; it’s because of who I married and how much we’ve both been open and proactive about making this work.

Of course, we’re at two years and no kids, so who are we to talk? There are challenges that crop up now and then, mainly concerning the issue of us both being from two different countries located on opposite ends of the planet. What if we left? Where would we go? Whose family do we visit next?

It is also difficult for both of us to be far from our families; neither of us have immediate family here and we do catch each other’s bouts of homesickness once in a while.

But there’s also the topic of extending our own family, which I’ve realized I wouldn’t want to start anywhere else but Israel. It’s a different life than how I grew up, but I think with lots more positive elements.

Lizrael Update: school keeps on truckin'.

I know it’s been a while since I properly updated with the whole fancy ‘lizrael update’ subject line. And this is likely to be quick, since it concerns school.

Some days I’m soclose to finishing my remaining projects (which these days numbers three) and some days I feel like I will never finish this thing. Fortunately, today was a soclose day. I’ll be done with one paper by the end of the week, starting a new one (ahem… two years over due one) after Shavuot and then I have my big fancy internship project to work on and then write up.

Of course, there is also the official ‘course gishur’ (mediation course) to take, which I still need to sort out dates and details for.

No more classes, no more books… but a lot between me and accomplishing the degree.

The final final.

I don’t want to make promises, because you just never know over here… But I’m %99.99 sure that I just finished my last ever final at Bar Ilan University…

…And I totally rocked it. Take that, Ethical Dilemmas in Mediation!

Here’s a portrait of the calm before the final:

It’s not the end of my degree, of course. I’ve got a lot more work to do and the mediation certification course to take. But I’m enjoying this small triumph until I start writing the next paper…

Stop playing with my heart.

Amidst my packing the apartment, my husband calls to me: “Looks like you got too sad too early.”

Lecturers’ strike ends

“The Coordinating Council of the Faculty Associations and the Treasury have come to an agreement ending the 89-day strike which has threatened the academic school year.

After marathonic overnight negotiations, the parties have agreed to sign an agreement outlined by Ofer Eini, Chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation and detailing the various wage increases and lecturers’ pension rights.” (ynet)

There, you see that? Can’t we all be friends? Apparently, university begins again on Sunday, but I’m going to find it hard to trust again.And I have two good reasons why:

“But the academic crisis, it seems, is not completely over: The Junior Faculty Association announced a national labor dispute Friday.”

“The JFA claims it wants to attain an wage increase for junior lecturers and “guest lecturers” in various universities, similar to that commanded by senior faculty in the agreement ending the lecturers’ strike.”

And:

“The Student Union, however, has announced that should the implementation of the recommendations of Shochat Committee for reform in higher education be included in the agreement in the last minute – they will go on strike themselves.”

Bar Ilan University has shut its doors…

…and it’s libraries, laboratories and offices.

I just got a notice; if you’re a student it might interest you:

בשל שביתת המרצים הבכירים הופסקה באופן מעשי פעילות ההוראה של הסגל הבכיר באוניברסיטאות זה כ- 87 יום

לאור העובדה שהצדדים למו”מ אינם מצליחים לגשר על הפערים, הגיע ועד ראשי האוניברסיטאות למסקנה האוניברסיטאות אינן מוכנות לקבל מהסגל האקדמי הבכיר שירותים חלקיים.

לפיכך החליט ועד ראשי האוניברסיטאות לסגור את האוניברסיטאות ובהן גם את אוניברסיטת בר אילן, החל מיום א’ י”ג בשבט תשס”ח 20.1.2008 בשעה 8:00 ועד לתום השביתה.

על-מנת שלא לפגוע בלימודיהם של הסטודנטים שלמדו בסמסטר הראשון, החליט ועד ראשי הא וניברסיטאות לאפשר קיומם של הבחינות, למרות שהקמפוס יהיה סגור לכל פעילות אחרת.

לאור האמור, כל הבחינות יתקיימו במועדן כפי שפורסם.

ייתכנו שינויים במיקום חדרי הבחינות והנכם מתבקשים לעקוב אחר מיקום הבחינה בלוחות המודעות בכניסה בניין נייגל 507 ביום הבחינה.

לידיעתכם: ספריות, המעבדות, חדרי ההוראה, המחלקות האקדמיות וכל היחידות המינהליות תהיינה סגורות.

מוקד מידע טלפוני: עומד לרשות הסטודנטים בטלפון: 03-5318508

ציבור הסטודנטים מתבקש לעקוב אחר ההודעות שיפורסמו בכלי התקשורת ובאתר האינטרנט של האוניברסיטה.

הנהלת האוניברסיטה מקווה שיווצרו במהרה התנאים שיאפשרו חזרה לפעילות תקינה ומלאה של האוניברסיטה.

ברכה,
מנהל הסטודנטים

I’m so incredibly embarrassed; a generation of students is getting utterly screwed because adults – supposed mentors – cannot resolve this conflict.

In case you don’t read Hebrew, this essentially means that next semester is canceled indefinitely. We don’t even have the option of going to classes taught by non-senior professors. We just can’t go to school, can’t get an education, can’t move on with our schedules. We can’t even use the libraries to study on our own or complete work from last semester.

Worst of all – I finally have a car and won’t even have the opportunity to drive to school in 40 minutes as opposed to 2 hours on the bus…