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Archive for June, 2012

New phase

Posted by aviel on June 10, 2012

I haven’t been blogging for quite some time now, but some things have happened and I found myself with no time to do fun stuff that I could write about, and no time to write about the fun stuff that I didn’t have time to do.

The reason is simply that I’ve found a job and this week was my first. The company that hired me needed customer support in Swedish and while the competition was hard, between all the Swedes who lined up outside their office, I came out on top – as I knew I would. And I’m humble as well.

This picture is really dark. But I have a really nice view from the office.

I find myself having moved to Israel but being back to the Swedish workweek. Which is why I have time to write this on a Sunday, when most Israelis go to work. There are few things as satisfying as staying at home, with a legitimate reason, while other people go to work. But even when on the Swedish workweek, I’m not enjoying the Swedish employee benefits. Vacation is 12 days a year. I’m only getting money for my pension plan after 6 months. The salary isn’t really bad for similar jobs in Israel, while being less than the average salary here since it’s a starting position, but it would be considered really bad in Sweden. And now I get to discuss a little bit of politics here. In fact, in all likelihood it’s a good thing that the starting salary is low.

Consider my situation: I’m in Israel for less than a month. I know the language, but not at the level of an Israeli born here, and I have a BA in Political Science, but have no idea where to look for jobs related to that (and my Hebrew is probably not good enough anyways). I have no work experience in Israel, but I have served in the Army, and I have no recent work experience in Sweden since I didn’t work while studying at the university. Now, what are the odds that I would find a relatively decent job after three weeks if I had come as an immigrant to Sweden? I’m not going to compare myself to immigrants who never learned to read and write, but I’m still an immigrant in a new country. And the fact is that in any job I would have to be taught pretty much from scratch. I seriously doubt that I would have got this job if the starting salary hadn’t been so low. Now it’s low, but in 3 months it will rise by another 500 shekels (1000 SEK, $130) and another 500 shekels after an additional 3-6 months. For them it will be relatively cheap to teach me, making it affordable for them to hire people they know little about, and for me it means I get to have a first job in Israel, with a salary that I can live on for awhile and which will rise shortly. I would have got another job eventually, but for how long would I have remained unemployed while looking for one? 7 years, which is the median time for an immigrant to Sweden? Surely I’d have a job in a year or so, but I would have been a drain on society until then and I would have felt a lack of personal dignity that I can now enjoy just because I have a job.

Lots of fish outside the office building, in case my salad isn’t enough.

I think that one of the reasons that Israel is an exemplary “start-up nation” is because the bar is low to enter the labor market. The company I work for is a start-up, but I know that people who started working there, like me, have made a lot of money. I don’t expect to myself, not anytime soon at least, but the potential is there and it’s unlikely that it would work unless you start with a low salary.

But I’ve heard that the turtle isn’t kosher..

Enough about that. The days are pretty long since I don’t live in Tel Aviv (yet). The day is 9 hours long, but add that a few hours of traveling and I’m gone for 12 hours every day. Not something I’m used to after 3.5 years at the university. So I get home, completely drained, with barely enough energy to eat and sit in front of the computer. Fortunately, except for my midsection, the grandma has been cooking every day this week except for Thursday, when they went to a wedding. So on Thursday I did the only thing I could under the circumstances, which was to take Yael, who had been doing reserve duty, and eat at a nearby restaurant.

Seriously, I haven’t cooked a single time since I got here, and I’m being fed wherever I go these days. On Friday David and Shiran took me to David’s relatives’ incredible house somewhat to the south. They were throwing a “start of the summer” pool party. I got to make my own pizza actually, since they had a pizza oven, and someone had brought a shwarma spit (kebab, for Swedish and perhaps other readers) as well. Oh, beer, wine and drinks of course. And tons of dessert. On the minus side, the kids had completely taken over the pool and the jacuzzi. Entering the jacuzzi after 20 kids had been there for hours wasn’t really an option for us, without entering into details of what had likely transpired there.

Yesterday made for a new experience for me in Israel. The family, and I, were invited to some friends who are Israeli Arabs and live in the nearby town of Abu Ghosh – where they likely make the world’s best hummus. I don’t think I was ever invited to an Arab home here before. In any case, it was a really pleasant evening. They have a nice big house and an unbelievable view from their huge balcony. It’s kind of funny because we were invited for “coffee”. I wondered if we should eat something before, but Orly told me to wait until I see their “coffee”. So we get there, the table had been laid, and first the soup is served. Then chicken, meat pastries, salad, really good “dolma” and more. Then we had really good pastries for dessert, and of course, no meal is complete without cherries, watermelon and grapes. Barely conscious we then proceeded to the coffee. During the meal I learned something about Arab food culture. Apparently coffee is served last, at the end of the meal, and the funny thing is that it carries with it a subtle hint that it’s time for the guests to leave. So I don’t know, maybe it would be considered rude to just invite someone for coffee. 🙂

Posted in Israel, Politics, Sweden | 2 Comments »