An increasing number of countries think that visitors and temporary residents won’t be able to cope once they leave their idyllic setting. I took on the challenge. Idyllic? Ha, certainly not. But, will living in Israel ruin you for any other country in the world?
Certainly the answer is YES.
Why so, you may ask. That’s simply because:
1. In Israel it is socially acceptable to yell at people.
It’s an absolute norm. You don’t apologise when someone yells at you, you yell back at them. This is the way to establish mutual respect and consequently have a meal together, get to know their families and remain friends for life. Israelis are more prone to yell, because they are very honest and aren’t as passive-aggressive as people in the Western culture are.
2. Israel has the lowest prices for fresh produce in the world among developed countries.
Fruit and vegetables are seasonal and thus you can strike deals all throughout the year. Fresh produce is much cheaper than processed food so you end up eating healthier and your body shows it. You have amazing, shiny hair, beautiful, soft skin and strong nails, and, when you need a spa, you go to the Dead Sea.
3. It’s perfectly acceptable to join any party and invite yourself for food.
Grilling is extremely popular among Israelis, who are slightly obsessed with food. They will always invite you to their table and if they don’t, they will consider it a norm when you invite yourself!
4. Restaurants serve large portions of deliciously colourful salads, meats and cheeses for you to choose from.
Have you even gone to a restaurant, where you paid a lot for a very tiny meal? This is not the case in Israel.
5. The majority of restaurants are kosher.
If you are an observant Jew this is very important. Every street is simply packed with places you can go to and eat freely. Some restaurants are not kosher, but many of these are vegan anyway so it doesn’t make much difference.
6. Amazing weather.
Ever been to the country where you have summer all year long, just in different parts? Even in winter, which only reasonably lasts around 3 months you can go either all the way south to Eilat, sit on the beach and swim with the dolphins or you can go to the Dead Sea where both the air temperature and water will allow you to walk around in your shorts and swim-suits!
7. Jewish geography.
Sitting at one table with 4 people roughly means that they all jointly come from all different continents through their parents or grandparents and you can spend hours discovering that your great-grandfather fancied your friend’s great-grandmother in Uzbekistan before they landed in either Europe, States or South Africa.
8. Direct public involvement in every aspect of your life.
Israelis are one of the warmest nations one can live amongst. They don’t only care for you. They will simply tell you exactly what and how you should do things because they genuinely think that they know better. People react differently as the advice is delivered in various ways, also including yelling (look point 1), but at the same time you can leave your new-born child with someone you have never seen before and continue shopping, while they do some child-minding.
9. Long waiting time for deliveries.
This may look like a downside, but think about it. You order food for delivery and normally, elsewhere in the world, you would be bound to sit and wait for it at home, because restaurants are obsessed with delivering food on time. No one is obsessed with time-keeping in Israel. The food may come anytime between an hour or sometimes even an hour-and-a-half, if you are lucky. So what do you do? You can easily call for delivery when you are still on your way from work, come home, unhurriedly take a shower, relax, choose a movie to watch, have a drink, start watching a movie and the delivery man will just about ring you that he is outside with your order. Perfect timing.
10. No need for PIN numbers while paying.
The only time you need a PIN number is when you withdraw money from the cashpoint. Every time you pay however, they only swipe your card and ask for your signature. The key is to keep withdrawing the money from the account so you do not forget your PIN number. Imagine now going back to the UK, for example, and having to remember your PIN number while you’re paying for an overpriced bag of tomatoes? Poor me, you think, I should have stayed in Israel.
11. You can live in Jerusalem.
12. You can live in Tel Aviv.
13. It is an insult not to bargain.
Great news for penny-pinchers as much as for people with less developed social skills. Penny-pinchers will be more than happy to save on everything. Those lacking social skills will end up developing them very quickly simultaneously making new friends.
14. Men are straight-forward.
Applying a reasonable amount of caution, knowing how charming Israeli men can be, one knows exactly where they stand with them. They won’t play games so the pressure is off. They will tell you exactly what they are looking for; whether it’s a serious relationship, marriage, casual dating, “just friends” or sex. No one will force you to make a choice, but once you do be certain that you really want it, because once they say what they want they are unwilling to change their minds. They do not do upgrades, if you follow my drill.
15. Shop assistants will stop you from buying products you want.
They will generally sell you products they think are good for you. If they think something is of a substandard quality they will tell you not to buy it and will offer something else. They will also do a lot to make sure you do not overpay.
NOTE: This does not apply to shopping at the markets.
It’s a whole new world where you don’t just buy food. You socialise, make friends, eat for free and end up being set up on a date with someone’s son because they liked the way you chose almonds.
17. You can walk in flip-flops the entire year.
Apart from the short winter period (you can change your location as per point 6) you can indeed wear comfy flip-flops the entire year, regardless of the attire – it’s acceptable to show up sporting a pair to the wedding party equally as you would wear them to the beach.
18. There is no need to use automatic dryers.
Hot. Desert. Temperatures. Everything. Dries. In. A. Matter. Of. Minutes. The clothes dry outside, smell lovely and do not get mouldy.
19. It’s acceptable to keep your feet on seats while travelling.
Yes, there are signs that you are not allowed to do so, but everyone does it anyway. Usually no one complains as long as you take your shoes off and your feet don’t smell.
20. Wallah and yallah become the centre of your vocabulary.
You actually feel like your sentences miss something if they are not said in Hebrew and you find yourself throwing wallah and yallah pretty much all the time. All your peers from outside of Israel do not understand why you suddenly started speaking Arabic. You sadly come to terms with the fact that you will never again casually use the word habibi.
21. Dai doesn’t have the same meaning as die.
So the next time you say dai (enough), people will look at you startled. “Did you just tell him to die!?”
22. Stam is a word in itself, which will never be understood outside Israel.
It also doesn’t have a definite translation in Hebrew so it is both pointless and sad that you will never use it again, because it’s also your favourite word.
23. You have the entire world within one tiny country.
Mountains in the north where you can go skiing, beaches to the west, historical cities and desert for hiking and star-gazing. You can do one thing each week and you don’t have to travel far.
24. Parties do not end.
Ever. In comparison, pubs in Britain close at midnight and clubs at 2-3am. Israeli parties do not start until 11-12pm and they certainly do not end until after the day break.
25. Turkish coffee and ice cream.
Israelis have no clue how to make coffees. Stam. It’s a fact. There is no cappuccino, late, au lait, macchiato, or Starbucks type of coffees. There is no Starbucks. There is only the hafuch, which means coffee with hot milk and a complete disregard for proportions.
But, the Turkish coffee is great and you can use it for the caffeine shot guiltlessly following it up with amazing ice creams, ice coffees and other icy things.
26. Six-day working week.
You get used to the fact that you do not have a Sunday to do nothing. You quickly realise therefore that, in-between work, every day is holiday with beach, parties and overflowing food. Try doing that elsewhere.
27. Jewish holidays.
This cannot be explained in words. It has to be experienced.
28. You get to use all your language skills.
It’s the only country in the world where you can speak Hebrew, English, Yiddish, Russian and Arabic interchangeably in one sentence and everyone will get the message.
29. Religious songs are remixed into club music.
Yes. And yes, you hear them in clubs.
30. This giant.
NOW YOU KNOW WHY YOU ARE RUINED FOR LIFE. THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE LIKE ISRAEL!