As we were staying at family in Netanya, we were commuting to Modiin every day for the first week of our Aliya. This meant a lot of time in the car, eating a lot of crisps and listening to the same CD which we had brought with us, interspersed with the radio when the kids had fallen asleep. We had begun the crusade to blitz through our list so that we would be the most super organised olim that ever existed (we can be a bit competitive like that!)
Two days after we made Aliya was Ella’s third birthday. Now, she had already had about three parties when we were back in London to celebrate this occasion but on her actual birthday, we really spoiled her and took her… to the bank to set up an account. Thank goodness our good friend David and brother/brother in law Daniel were around to keep her entertained and took her out for ice cream, bought her a present, bought her sweets – the instructions were “anything to keep her happy”. After killing quite a few trees through the amount of paperwork that it takes to set up an account here, we came across the dilemma of which type of card do we get…credit or debit. In England, people use both but for people who like to keep track of their spending tend to go with a debit card. So, when we requested the debit card, the woman looks at us like we are a bit mad. She then explained to us that in Israel, people like credit cards so that they can buy whatever they want during the month and then only pay at the end. Finally, we understand why so many people in Israel are in debt. It is not a conscious decision but something that is part of society. We decided to be half English and half Israeli…we got both! After an hour and a half, we realised we were starving and so began the pizza fest that would continue for the next few days.
We also needed to sign up for health insurance which meant bye bye NHS for us. As born and bred Britons, we were used to free healthcare thanks to the NHS. So for us, a big difference was the fact that you have to pay for healthcare in Israel. For Americans, it is the same but for us, it was a different mentality to get used to. One definite plus is that the Olim benefits cover a certain amount of the medical fees for the first year – great stuff.
Next stop was shopping for a fridge. We had never shopped for a fridge before because the one we had in London was second hand and came with our flat. So this was a new experience for us. We looked in three different shops, bartering prices between them all (only in Israel) and finally came to an agreement and made our first purchase which would be delivered to the flat the following week. Very proud of ourselves (and also feeling that the guy might have charged us more because he could hear we were not Israeli), we went to get food for the kids (pizza) before heading back to Netanya for the night where we could actually celebrate Ella’s birthday with cake and presents. Not a bad start. We had done most of the paperwork that we needed to do and met up with Misrad HaKlita (absorbtion) to discuss next stages. Now, we had to sit tight and wait for our shipment.