Looking for an ulpan

Article published on Oct. 18, 2009
community published
Article published on Oct. 18, 2009
So, my second week in Israel is about to begin. Today I was looking for where to study Hebrew. With some adventures. At first I tried at the university a couple of days ago. I took a placement test and got all the necessary information. The staff was really nice, explained me many things. I was told I'll get a certificate that I studied there.
The course (11 weeks, 4 times/week) costs NIS 1000, and if I want it, I should pay today or tomorrow. It sounds like an OK deal, but I was told that the course there is very academic and the texts given to students are hyper-Zionist. As I only need Hebrew for social life, I felt like trying other options.

So today I went to the seemingly mega-popular Ulpan Gordon. People have told me that studying there is fun, teachers try to speak Hebrew all the time, and they read papers, have discussions, etc. They aren't pushy, so one studies as much as necessary. The language school doesn't seem to have a website, only some sites created by its fans (like www.ulpangordon.com), and they don't answer on the phone. As it's close to where I live, I just went there and found their office. The staff there was really unfriendly. The first lady, who had no client but was looking at her computer, told me that she was busy in a very irritated voice. I know that there must be many people asking the same questions over and over, but I'm sure there could have been a more polite way to tell that. So I waited at the door until another lady asked me to come in. She only asked me if I had studied Hebrew before, and when I said I had, she told me to come on Wednesday to take a test. I had some more questions, like, how big the groups are, what are the possible time slots, how much it costs finally. But she cut it short: you will be informed about all this after you take the test. "See, I have to choose whether to study here or at the university, and..." I tried to explain that I'd miss the deadline for the university by Wednesday. "We and the university are totally separate," she interrupted. "I know, but if I..." - "Come and take the test on Wednesday, and you will be told everything." After this I didn't feel like trying to ask my questions again. Well, I've been told by my Israeli friends already that I'll have problems with my hyper-gentle European manners.

Anyway, if the ulpan is really that good, I guess I should give it a try. And in case I don't like it, I can beg the university to take me in later. After all, aren't foreign students excused for being stupid? :)