Dec 20, 2015

Weekly Update 10: Dead Sea

I met a lot of friends this week, and I also had a good week at work, so it felt pretty good overall.

My work load had reduced from the week before and I had fewer calls/meetings. I met some friends for lunch hour during work and I would generally just come home after work to chill. I'm not the most social person when the weather gets colder, so I wasn't super interested to socialise or go out.

At the end of the week, Aileen and I visited our Israeli family in Rehovot (a suburb 20 minutes away from Tel Aviv)! A few weeks ago, we'd met someone through couchsurfing who invited us over to her house in Rehovot, and since then we've been in touch with her and her family. While she was travelling in India (infact she met my family there), we visited her family in Rehovot this weekend and then took a trip to the dead sea with them. Aileen and I hadn't been to the dead sea yet, so this was our first time!

For those of you who don't know the dead sea is one of the saltiest water body on earth and its Earth's lowest elevation on land. One of Israel's main sources of incomes is the minerals it mines from the dead sea (which has affected the water levels of the dead sea over time).

The beach that we visited of the dead sea had hot springs around it as well, so after going in the dead sea and floating there for a bit (since it's so salty in the dead sea, you just float there), we sat in the hot springs (which had mud underneath that's considered really good for the skin). My skin was quite itchy because of the salt, but it was such a unique experience to go there and I didn't really mind the itchiness!

This coming week is my last week here before I fly back home for the rest of winter. But as I mentioned in last week's blog post, I'm going to come back here in March for the spring semester at IDC (a university not far from Tel Aviv). I really like Israel and i feel like I haven't had enough of it just yet. So I want to stay longer and learn more about it. While I'm sad to leave my Tel Aviv apartment, and the company I was interning at, I'm so glad I got the chance to be here, and I'm even more glad that I get the chance to come back. It's also quite nice to visit home in India. It's been a year since I was there, and I haven't seen most of my friends and family since then! I wish I also got to see my friends in Singapore, but that will need to wait unfortunately.

Pictures later!

Dec 13, 2015

Weekly Update 9: Work

This week was nothing but work really. After coming back from Jordan, I was quite refreshed, which came as a surprise (usually short trips are pretty exhausting for me). It felt good to be back at work, and I was quite creative and productive through it. This weekend was my last weekend in Tel Aviv, since I'm travelling next weekend and then flying home the week after. But then again, I worked most of my weekend too. Also, I'm coming back in March for another few months here. So not sure it counts as a "last weekend"!

I had calls and meetings and more calls during the week. So I was waking up really early on most days to work. It was really satisfying though, because I managed to be productive and not to get burnt out. I also got to hang out with some old friends and some new friends on the weekend, which was really great.

A conversation I had with some friends about the Law of Attraction got me interested in it. So I ordered a free sample of the Alchemist on my kindle and watched a bit of the Secret, both of which are about the Law of Attraction.

I also decided to be nicer to myself this week. I tend to keep pushing myself and finding problems with myself that I can fix. So I decided not to be so harsh on myself and also, to not compare myself to other people. I often compare myself to other people who are more accomplished than me, and a friend told me that I should stop doing that.

Dec 6, 2015

Weekly Update 8: Jordan

This weekend, I visited Jordan. I went to Wadi Ram, Petra and Amman. People in Jordan are super friendly and despite some visa trouble I had at the border while entering (often happens when you hold an Indian passport) people were really nice right from the beginning, including the officials who were causing the visa trouble.

Wadi Ram is a place in the Jordanian desserts that's well known for camping and star gazing. The skies at night are extremely clear and we could see the stars really clearly. We also took a jeep tour in the dessert, which was basically riding around the dessert in a jeep. While I've been in desserts before (in India), it was nice seeing the Jordanian dessert. The color of the sand was different and I learnt a lot about the Bedouin culture (bedouins is the word used to refer to people who live in the dessert). We spent the night camping in Wadi Ram in the dessert (I went with 3 friends).

We spent our second day in Petra. It's a wonder of the world, and it was really amazing. Petra is an old city which was along the silk route. It was inhabited by traders. Their cultures and traditions showed through the structures that remained of the old city (tombs, treasuries, etc). Going to Petra and learning about the history of it was really amazing. Also, it was really beautiful.

On the third day, we visited my and Linus' friend Ronald in Amman, which is the capital city of Jordan. Ronald was doing a study abroad in Jordan to learn Arabic, and he's generally very well informed about cultures, so I was really glad to be able to meet him in Jordan. It was on this day that I felt like I was learning about present day Jordan. Wadi Ram and Petra had been quite touristy, and much of the people we interacted with on our first two days were people used to receiving tourists. So Amman was great in forcing us to see reality. People were dressed in burqas, they were quite anti-Israel and the social norms were different (for example, I couldn't sit next to a man on the bus unless I knew him). Not to say these are good or bad, they're just different. And I think these kind of things are what really make you understand cultures better. Ronald told us a lot about Jordan too, so learnt a lot from him!

During this trip, I also realised that I'm beginning to develop strong preferences for things I like and don't like. For example, I think I could have enjoyed the trip as much without Wadi Ram. I don't love camping, I've seen desserts, I've ridden camels before. But because people insisted seeing Wadi Ram, I decided to go there. Since the trip, I've gotten much more conscious about making personal decisions like these keeping in mind my preferences and past experiences.

Pictures later!

Dec 3, 2015

Weekly Update 7: Workaholism

I'm super late in writing this weekly update, but that's mostly because I haven't been doing anything particularly out of the ordinary outside of work. I had a ton of work to do in the past one and a half week, and I still do, which has kept me really busy from when I wake up to when I sleep.

Last week, Dr Chan, Sharon, Mervyn and Edmund from NUS Enterprise visited Tel Aviv. They were interested to know all that we'd been doing in Israel and we had quite a few meetings with them. We also pitched startup ideas to them that we'd been working on in our entrepreneurship classes. I ended up pitching my edtech project, which is always fun. We did the pitching in front of all our company's founders or supervisors at a farewell lunch. Even Singapore's ambassador to Israel was there! I've never pitched at a lunch before. Anyway I had fun doing it. I love public speaking, so even though it was a bit stressful to prepare, refine and practice the pitch in addition to the usual work, it went well. Also, this was the first time ever that I was pitching not an idea but a product. In the past, all my pitches have been about ideas that aren't yet products. So I learnt how to present a product and data from users with Liat and Natali's help (my instructors from IDC). I also learnt more about powerpoint design from my friend Ding YI who pitched with me!

Yesterday, we also had farewell drinks in which we met some more IDC students and re-met our instructors and course organisers. While it was farewell drinks for my Singaporean friends, it wasn't really farewell for me. A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to stay longer in Israel, so I applied for a study abroad at IDC next semester through Yale-NUS, and I got accepted to it! So I'll probably be back here when the next semester starts in March. While I'm not looking forward to studying again, I'm looking forward to having more control over my time and more flexibility. I remember how much easier it was to work on my project and other things I'm interested in alongside school. Also, it's just really nice to be around students and new people. I'm not going to be living in Tel Aviv any longer-I'm going to be in an outskirt town called Herziliya (which is where the university is). This is the longest time I'll be spending in a non metropolitan city, and I'm quite looking forward to that. I think it's important to live in different types of places just to see the kind of person you become by living in each of those places.

I got to hang out with some friends last week, but not really all that much. I'm generally a bit less social these days and spend most of my non work time either sleeping, eating or reading. I've been reading Memoirs of a Geisha. Love that book! People say its not very accurate (also, it's written by a non-japanese), but I actually think its not so far from the truth based on what I learnt from my summer in Japan. If you have the time and know a bit about Japan, I would highly recommend it.