SAM

“I’m two weeks in Israel and I’m already enrolled in Ulpan. The most difficult thing in learning Hebrew is the ability to pronounce words correctly.
I feel like a camel, as everything with a ח (Chet) makes you want to spit. The ability to speak in Hebrew stretches your vocal chords in a way that I never thought was possible. There’s a full range of different ways to pronounce Chet. Sometimes you can’t really tell the difference between a Chet and a Hey (ה), but other
times the chet sound sort of hits you and you think, “Shit, how did they do that?”

Studying Hebrew in the Ulpan is a very emotional experience. Even though the Ulpan is only 3 and a quarter hours a day, you experience an emotional rollercoaster the whole time. You come into class, and you understand what the teacher says, and you start to think that your progress is really accelerating quickly. But then you see a word on the page that you don’t know, and you think, I will never learn this language, and then I’ll have to go back home, and I don’t know what I’ll do.

Sometimes, instead of feeling down about your knowledge of the language, you start to feel angry. Coming from America and speaking English, there isn’t really any other language you need to know. On the other hand, only ten million people speak Hebrew, which is why most people here speak at least some English. So you think to yourself, ‘I’m busting my ass trying to learn this language that I’ll never be able to use anywhere else — why?’ But then you go back to miserably studying in an attempt to get your Hebrew to at least an elementary school level.”

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