What to expect when you’re EXPATing in Israel?

Karolina Fotyga

Sooner or later every expat faces the challenges of adjusting to life in a new country. After what may seem either a honeymoon or a crash course in some cases – the real life begins. And so we ask ourselves the question – who am I? Am I a guest? A traveller? Or more of a tourist, a foreign body, a visitor? Do I feel comfortable? Am I fitting in? Is this for real now? How do you know if you’ve adjusted yourself well enough?


A lot of how you’re coping with the new reality is a result of your personality traits, obviously. Also, the country of your origin and what you grew accustomed to for years make a difference. But the specifics of the country you’re currently calling home play a big part as well.

As an example I’ll tell you about our time in Jerusalem, it wasn’t all smooth and easy. It took us some time, and work but soon enough we felt very much at home. I remember writing this post on my Facebook Page and sharing it with our friends to let them know how it is;)


So about Israel – this is how I knew and it might be that you know it too if:

  1. you realize your cat’s everyday prey is lizards instead of mice, and you’re ok with that,thecat
  2. you don’t even feel the need to go shopping on Friday after 2 pm anymore. What’s the point anyway? shabbat
  3. should you have a sudden notion to use public transport at that time – between Friday afternoon and Saturday night that is – same case.  Just saying’trio
  4. you hear cheerful ‘yalla’ shouted back and forth between your kids instead of otherwise well-known ‘move it you moron’ …. you get me;)
  5. you start to begin to sort of understand all the mysterious writing – road signs, newspapers, parking spots, the cookies’ packages, milk you know – basic necessities… I mean it’s awesome that the numbers are Arabic ? because Hebrew and Arabic letters are challenging enough.letters
  6. it finally gets to you that bread = pita. Period.
  7. with all your aversion towards tanning – you look like a human toast anyway.toast
  8. you stop cursing behind the wheel. By now you’re so used to people doing whatever the ef they wish on the streets you find yourself intrigued when somebody uses the turn signal. You may even want to follow them and see who they are – those weirdos!
  9. if you happen to be a woman, a blond maybe you pretty soon feel like Angelina Jolie (yes, I know she’s not blond y’all) For real. The guys here have a different understanding of boundaries.  Not only guys – and personal space here seems to be pretty much overrated.
  10. on the kitchen counter you’ll have all the exotic fruit instead of your usual apples and bananas, and nobody is even excited at this point.pomegranate
  11. you’re happy as a kid for Christmas/or Chanukah/or other;)  when it rains. Seriously. Especially if your ‘make yourself at home period’ happens to be between April and November. It-Never-Rains-Here. Then. Personally, I find it really cool, but a small rain once in a while didn’t hurt anyone, right? Coming from a country where it rains a lot and the seasons are really confusing – to be able to invite your friends over and know you’re gonna be sitting outside in your garden and make BBQ. That’s everything.
  12. if your kids hear the sound of the alarm siren and they just know what to do – you find them under the table or on their way to the safe room. That’s just the way it is.

    the city

  13. you don’t jump when you see all the armed men and women on the streets. You just don’t do it after a couple of days. It’s a new normal now.armed

This has been a short list – of course there’s more. Might be a part 2 is coming up:)

If you’re interested in Israel or planning a trip there – there are a couple more posts about this country on the blog – check out the Eilat story or most recent Makhtesh Ramon overview 🙂

Have you ever lived somewhere long enough to call this place home? Or maybe you live(d) in Israel – when if ever did you feel at home?

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