1. 1 day weekends. Yes you heard right. Weekends start on Friday afternoon and end on Saturday evenings. Kids go to school, many people go to work and you only get one lie in a week (if you don’t have small childers and consider 7am a lie in)
2. Shabbat. You know, the day of rest. The Sunday that was, when you were young. Closed shops, quiet roads, visiting friends and relations. In some of the religious parts the roads are closed completely on Saturday here. For the secular, Saturday means mass exodus to the countryside, beaches or desert for some quality time. Shame it ends abruptly when the sun goes down.
3. Salaries. In Israel the cost of living is on a par with the UK, food costs apart from fresh produce are higher and clothing, electronics, household goods are much, much more expensive. Taxes are high and house (read apartment) prices are the same as London. So how people manage on such low salaries is beyond me.
4. Year round sunshine. I have mentioned it a billion times before but its worth mentioning again. Israel rarely sees bad weather which means outdoor living, lots of sunblock (am sporting a burnt forehead as I type) and bikinis from March to December (if you are brave or under 40)
5. School til lunchtime. This to me is just weird. I have talked (complained) about it at length here. As we all struggle to pay the household bills on the crappy salaries we also need to fork out for childcare from 1pm.
6. Everyone has an opinion about Israel. Everyone. Before I moved here Tel Aviv sounded exotic and Israel sounded dangerous. I am aware of people’s reaction when I say I live here and have learnt not to argue.
7. Food. Street food is better than most restaurant food in middle England. Vegetables are fresh and plentiful. Home cooking is the norm and convenience food few and far between.
8. Israel is tiny. Teeny tiny and most people live in a teensy portion of the tinyness – few brave living in the desert. Israel’s population is smaller than the population of Greater London. No wonder you always bump into someone you know and sometimes it can stifle.
9. Shouting. Everyone does it. Blame the fiery temperaments, the stress of living in a conflicted region, or the heat and humidity but tempers here are short and it takes some getting used to.
10. Everything is everyone’s business. “How much do you earn?”, “How much do you weigh?”, “How much is your mortgage/rent?” to “Why don’t you have/have more children?”, “What did your parents do for a living?”. All questions I would consider (from a stranger) at best none of their business and at worst downright rude are just plain simple questions here. My favourite was a few years back when an old man in the park asked me how old I was and then asked why I didn’t have children yet, “because you are too old to start having children now”. Nice.