Nerd Alert!

I had a total nerd breakdown today when I went to see JTS's rare book collection in their library. They have over 11,000 actual manuscripts! Primary sources galore!!!!!! I just about died as the cutest and most knowledgeable old man ever pulled out book after book after book of 9th century manuscripts, the Genoa polyglot bible, a Czar Alexander III nobility paper for a Jewish physician (complete with his actual signature and official seal!!!!!), and little tiny personal scrolls (some of the oldest in existence!!!). Holy crap, it was the most fantastic thing I've ever seen and it is the single largest collection of original manuscripts of Jewish history, if not in the world, at least in the whole United States. I'm pretty sure it's the most extensive in the world. JTS's library is the most extensive collection of Jewish literature outside of Israel.

It was super awesome. Ok, I just had to nerd out. O^O


NYC and Jewish Life

Things are going really well so far. Immediately after the family left I felt a little lonely and tried to find things to occupy my time. Shortly, though, I began a kind of bonding with my one roommate, Katy. She's the other non-Jewish girl in my apartment. We went out for a cheap Indian meal for dinner and today we explored JTS's main building together and searched out the cheap, warehouse-like grocery that was suggested to us. Man, that place is cheap! Everything else around here is so damned expensive. I think part of the reason the two of us have bonded so well is because we're both equally poor at the moment. It was nice shopping with her and the both of us trying to figure out what was kosher and still cheap. We both kind of already unkoshered our kitchen, but neither of our other roommates seemed too upset. *phew*

I now have my ID card, know where the library is, and sort of have a little understanding of how the building is set up. I just got out of my Hebrew Oral Placement, which was very entertaining. Rabbi Roth told me he was so glad to see me so that he could finally put a face to the placement exam that had so incredibly baffled him. He told me that I showed "advanced understanding of grammar but absolutely no reading or vocabulary comrehension". Also, I didn't use Hebrew script but the Biblical block writing, which made him think I was a Bible student. Yep. This makes my course placements a whole lot easier to understand!

He had put me in Hebrew 1001 - the very bottom level of Hebrew! I'm in preschool Hebrew! BUT I was also registered for Hebrew 5009 - a pretty advanced grammar course. After I take the grammar course, I'm set for taking the Biblical gramamr course, which I really really wanted to take!

Now I still have some more things to accomplish, such as filling out a loan request for spending moneys and making sure my deferments have made it in!

I was a little nervous at first about being here and not really knowing anyone, but now it's all going so well - even the conundrum of a kitchen we have going on! I'll have pictures of the apartment up on facebook soon, but I'll share the link on here so everyone may see them!


The Going Away...

Stuart has made it to Tokyo! I found out through email at 10:30am (11:30pm Tokyo time) that he had landed, made it to his apartment, and had already been to the grocery store! We skyped tonight/Tokyo morning. He just woke up and looked surprisingly refreshed, probably because he had been to bed at midnight utterly exhausted and slept straight through till morning. Good for him, no jet lag! He said that the train from the airport into the city was breathtakingly beautiful and he's in a very nice neighborhood outside the busiest part of the city. I'm so glad he's made it just fine and doing so well!

Now I just have to work on packing and getting my stuff together. Luckily, I'm allowed to forget some things because I'll still be in a familiar enough place to know where to go for things. Or I'm also pretty close to home still. Well, the night is still young, I have a lot of packing, and I get to sleep in tomorrow before going to work! woo! Alright, back to packing...


New Urban Setting

Something that's been getting into my head a lot recently is how I'm going to react to the busiest and largest city on the East Coast. The little country girl already lived in an urban setting before, but that was only for a couple months. Also, Berlin doesn't really count as a serious urban setting; there's far too much green and far less traffic than NYC. I'm really glad I'm only 10 blocks from Central Park, so I at least will have an easy escape when I get too overwhelmed.

I just read an article from the New York Times about 5 neuroscientists studying the effects technology has on the parts of the human brain related to anxiety and lack of focus versus how we relax in natural settings. Such a coincidence because I had really noticed how much I had relaxed and felt less inclined to check my email after my family's little vaca to the mountains. The same thing happened after my remote vacation with Stuart at the beginning of summer. The article mentioned how even just an urban setting can increase anxiety and lack of focus and decrease our learning ability. Rather, walking in a wooded area increases our learning ability and relaxation. Surrounding ourselves in nature changes how we pay attention to what's around us: listening and seeing differently.

I absolutely love being outdoors though I am looking forward to the convenience of city living. Luckily, the Upper West Side is a little greener than most of Manhattan; I could easily take walks in Central Park, lose myself in the nature without realizing I'm in the Big Apple. I hope. We'll see. One thing is for certain: I will never ever allow myself to get a Black Berry or any kind of mobile device that causes me to be more absorbed in technology. I often just check my email because I'm bored. But what did I do on my vacations without all that stuff? I had the most wonderful time. I went on walks, swam, read read read and read. Hopefully since I have some active roommates (and by active, I mean, they actually exercise) I'll get a little more into that kind of active lifestyle?