Running 3km at 4am?! {Sar-El ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Day #3}

Running 3km at 4am?! {Sar-El ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Day #3} | Tuesday 12th July 2016 |

This morning we had to be at breakfast by 7am and flag raising at 7.40am (five minutes earlier than the other soldiers to practise our positions- “Dom” and “Noach”). After that we stayed to recite Ha Tikvah (the non-Jews still had no idea what was going on) and we had a mini ceremony to receive Sar-El volunteer labels to put on our shoulder flaps (I don’t know the technical terms). Everyone got a label on each shoulder and a light, customary  punch on each arm before we applauded and welcomed them back to the “Chet” (the formation we were standing in). 

Our work was in the same warehouse as yesterday and I pretty much did the same thing all day. We had boxes of 60 identical tank parts (tail ends of cylinders for the engine) and we had to individually package each one before returning them to the original boxes. We made packets from sheets of plastic and sealed them with the same awesome machines from yesterday. We also had to count them meticulously and give them labels. 

I saw one worker we met on the first day. Apparently he had “some mess with the army”, so instead of prison, he has to do a few weeks of service. It’s kind of scary being near someone who should be in military prison right now, not gonna lie!

I was sitting with a French girl and it was really good to practise conversational French with her. We talked about summer plans, family and my home town (basically a GCSE French oral, except I struggled to recall all the funky vocabulary I used to know). Apparently I have a good accent but I’m not convinced. It makes me realise just how important communication is and reminds me of why I love learning languages. I seriously regret stopping French at school! The Australian is amazing at languages and I really admire his natural ability to pick up random words from different people. He knows English, Japanese, Russian, French, plus some Thai and Henrew. He’s a lot better at Hebrew than most of us and he is really trying. I’m impressed he can even read the alphabet but on top of that, he actually corrected the transliteration we were given  for Ha Tikvah! 

Anyway, at one point, a girl came into the warehouse and told us she had finished washing the remaining crates from yesterday. I was so happy because it meant I wouldn’t have to help with that task after lunch! 

Not much happened in the afternoon. I had to wrap two airtight hoses in silver foil, which was a lot more difficult to manage (especially with one volunteer dozing off whilst hogging the pedal). We also had to clean the work spaces and the boys had to lift scaffolding pieces into a truck. The troublemaker of the group was told he was fired because he was just messing around as usual, but then he explained to the floor manager that he is doing Israel a favour by working for free so he doesn’t have to work anyway, and the manager said he was smart so he got sent back to our work space (haha). I think he’s just the kind of guy who can schmooze his way out of any situation!

Despite sweating through all my clothes because of the heat, it was a pretty chilled day in the warehouse. It felt like a long working day because we did over 7 hours (we started an hour earlier than yesterday and got kicked out of the canteen before the end of our lunch break). I got to wear my own hiking boots, though, so I’m happy to be avoiding blisters on my ankles from the combat boots. 

Chocolate milk at dinner: yum! My Canadian roommate showed me a picture of her fridge at home- it’s literally just filled with cartons of chocolate milk!

Our evening activity was learning about lone soldiers. In brief, they’re soldiers who come to Israel alone and have parents living abroad (like our madricha, who’s from Russia). There are different types: orphans, those who don’t communicate with their parents, and volunteers. The IDF helps them find housing: a rented apartment (you can choose where it is and who you live with), a soldiers’ house, a kibbutz (you don’t have to work on it because you’re already serving in the IDF), or AWIS (an apartment allocated to soldiers). Accommodation is free but if you rent an apartment , you’re given 1050NIS (per month) towards the cost. On the subject of money, non-combat soldiers receive about 1340NIS per month and combat soldiers receive over 2000NIS per month as a salary. They also receive money from the ministry of immigration in their first five years, 120NIS per month on a credit card for groceries, and they have access to centres for lone soldiers, set up by the parents of Michael Levine. It’s really great to know that lone soldiers from across the world are supported and encouraged to serve in the IDF. Our madricha talked to us about her experiences of learning Hebrew in 1.5 years and completing basic training (including cold showers and running 3km at 4am!) 

The boy from the Faro Islands is leaving tomorrow so he was presented with a certificate, and the Canadian boy was interrogating our madricha on the KGB, Finding Dory and Instagram (specifically, he was trying to “slide into her DMs”). I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hysterically. 

Just before bed, my Pennsylavian roommate and I booked a hotel for the weekend and we were all eavesdropping on the soldiers outside who were talking to the Hungarian girl about the handsome male soldiers. We were all exchanging glances and giggling at what we could hear outside our dorm!

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