It has been a while since I last updated but I am back. So grab a cup of coffee (or tea ;)) join me at one of the little tables at the cobblestone road of Orchid Boulevard and boy do I have a story for you.
So I had just finished my final final of my last semester of my freshman year. Your girl did it!! Now it's finally time to run across a beach, straight into the dramatic sunset of summer break. Right? Wrong.
Suuummeeerrr Classeeesss Begin!
One would think that fall semester Thecla would plan ahead and cut her future, exhausted, spring semester self some slack. But no. Filled with vigour and energy, she registered for a month long study tour without realising exactly how much of a unpalatable choice it would be.
"Then again," said spring semester Thecla "it's a study tour and in Israel at that! It will probably be more of a holiday then a class."
Oh Thecla, you gullible gullible child.
For starters I had a runway of 4 days between the end of my spring semester - officially closed by turning in the keys to my dorm room - and the beginning of my summer semester - officially started by meeting my new class of 45 people in the luggage check counters of LAX at 3 in the morning.
Not to mention the homework I had due the night I touched down in Israeli territory. (Which by the way, was completed during the 14 hour plane ride over.)
Although not the same can be said for everyone, half a day of travelling wore me out and your little unsuspecting friend here was ready for a shower, a nap and maybe a little tour around the area before dinner.
Hahaha. Notice how I said unsuspecting.
We got off the bus straight in 40°c / 86° f weather.
* Dramatic Voice *
The sun beat upon the weary travellers, left behind in the dust of the bus next to their pile of suitcases.
* Vulture Caws in the distance *
Squinting through the sunlight, luggage in hand, the group looked up to face their first obstacle in this foreign land.
* Dramatic Narrative Ends *
Ok ok, right now you may be thinking to yourself "Stairs? That's it? Really Thecla? Really?"
Oh you people of little faith. Believe me, when your in-house blogger uses her dramatic voice, we are no longer playing games.
300 metres of uphill struggle half of which was embodied in the form of 5 flights of stairs, steep stairs. I kid you not.
Now if you're still mocking me, add on a 50 pound suitcase and see if you can still look down on me ya' heathen.
Nooowww. Thecla thinks that after all that, she can resume her leisurely schedule of positivity and happiness.
The tag of unsuspecting has yet to be lifted.
We were given 20 minutes to place our belongings in our rooms and freshen up ("If you can, I dare you." - Thecla's Summer Class) then promptly return to the hotel lobby to start class.
Our instructor also decided that the best possible itinerary for Day 1 was to get a proper scope of the entire city. Aka, hiking the entire city and walls.
That was also where the tiring but fun part starts.
In contrast to my preconceived ideas of what Israel would be, the old city of Jerusalem was very much caught up with modern technology and advancements.
From Wi-Fi routers literally everywhere (The password is 01234567, it's always 01234567. Anywhere you go, the password is 01234567.) to security cameras literally everywhere, Jerusalem's Old City was technology caught up with any other regular city existing in the 20th century.
What makes Israel unique then?
I found that the most charming thing that this land possessed to be the seemingly impossible compromise of old and new.
You'd have sports cars and modern trains carrying out their daily chores right next to camel, or donkey. You'd find malls built of regular cement and glass 10 minutes away from a ancient city wall constructed using limestone (Not just any Limestone, Cenomanian Limestone. This is in case my local professor reads this - What's up Chandler!)
Israel's beauty comes in its wide spectrum of artefacts scattered all around it's visitors. Dating from as early as 70 B.C to current, 2018 architecture. Israel has come up with an amazing way of merging the two to create a history lesson for everyone to unconsciously live through in their day-to-day life.
One of my favourite sites was Magdala. Magdala was the hometown of Mary Magdalene (One of Jesus' closest female disciples). Within the ruins of the ancient city is constructed a Church and Museum to remember the few women in Jesus' life. My favourite part of the site was the "Duc in Altum". Duc In Altum has been called “the most unique spiritual center in the Holy Land.” The Duc In Altum houses the Women’s Atrium (My favourite part of it), the Boat Chapel, Mosaic Chapels, and Encounter Chapel.
As I mentioned earlier, the Duc In Altum exalts the presence of women in the Gospel. This concept
was materialised in the Women’s Atrium. A circular hall in the centre of Duc In Altum's top floor. It features a fountain at the heart of it and 8 pillars circling its outer frame. Seven of those eight pillars represent women in the Bible who followed Jesus (Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary & Martha etc). The eighth, is reserved for you, a women of faith and the many more to join us across all time.
Another gorgeous part of Duc In Altum is the The Encounter Chapel. The chapel, first of all, is an archeological treasure: the floor is that of the original first century market place of the Magdala port. However, the true highlight of the Chapel is by far the large painting (titled “Encounter”) that depicting the encounter of the hemorrhaging woman who touched the hem of Jesus' clothing for healing. Located in the lower lever of Duc In Altum, the Encounter Chapel is dedicated to Jesus’ encounter of all of us, as illustrated by the hemorrhaging woman.
Photo Courtesy of Magdala.org
As most of you know, this is the part where I set my pen down and allow my photos to write my thousand words for me!
Here are a couple photos from my trip!
I also had the privilege of having my Mom on me with this trip. She's a learner and has wanted to visit the Holy Land at least once in her lifetime. Considering these attributes what better vacay than to join her daughter's study tour? Here are some photos of my cute mama (Whom we spent mother's day with in Israel).
That's all I have for you for now~ Look forward to part 2 featuring the Dead sea, dead sea scrolls, more furry companians, some young Israeli friends, the wailing wall and more!
Update! Part 2 is now available!
Also, check out this trips Instagram posts!