Shabbat Shalom Everyone,
I have just finished my first week in the Army. So far so good. How was it? Its been a lot of fun actually. I have met a ton of people from all over the world and good people too. This first week has been easier than I expected and much easier that my first week, RAT Week, at New Mexico Military Institute. Here is how each day went: *This might be a bit long…sorry…but its interesting.
Day 1: Bakum
Early in the morning on Tuesday, Idan drove me and my friend to the Bakum in Tel Aviv. The Bakum is the induction center for most soldiers in the IDF. Herbie and I arrived about 9am. We had to sit around for awhile and wait for more people to arrive. Then we had to board a bus for about a three minute drive to another part of the base. There was only about fifteen of us on this bus. This is when I really felt like a Lone Soldier…When the bus left everyone had parents and friends waving goodbye…My friend and I only had each other. So the first thing we did was get off the bus and bring our bags to a storage place. We took out all our IDs, bank card, and medical information. Then we started the process. Pictures for our Army ID card, fingerprints, teeth pictures and X-rays, immunizations, interview, medical review, Lunch, and finally we received our uniforms. Doesn’t seem like much now, but it took a long time. After we got our uniforms we got dressed and went outside to wait for the busses. We sat there for an hour or so, not allowed to do anything. Then finally they started calling names to board the busses. Then we sat another hour or so on the bus before we left. The Bus ride to our base is about two hours, so I slept. We arrived at the base, Mikvah Alon, at about 8pm. We got put into temporary Tzvets (Squads for the next few days), dropped our bags and went to eat. We have 10mins to eat, 2mins to clear our trays, and 1min to get into formation. The food was alright and I could eat most of it, but it was a dairy meal…like all dinners in the Army. We then went to the barracks and dropped off our bags. The rest of the night we started learning about being a soldier and being in the Army. Everything we do is timed and we always have to be fast. I have a stopwatch and most of the time I have to call out the time remaining. At 11pm, we got an hour break before lights out. During this time you can smoke, talk on the phone, relax, shower, read, sleep…ect. Then at midnight we all had to be in our beds lights out. A very long day.
Wake up was at 0615 and formation at 0630. All the time we have a short amount of time to get ready, clean, and get into formations. We also have to fill out attendance sheets every time we do something more than 7mins. Oh, and I didn’t really get to sleep all night. My first Tzvet was crazy. The russians in my group were playing music, talking, and laughing all night long. AHHHAH… We then go to breakfast, it was almost the same thing as dinner, but I had my lactose pills, so I got to eat the cheese. The rest of the day was mostly walking around the base learning everything we need to know about the Army and the Base. The Base is super nice. Its on top of a mountain above the Kinaret (Sea of Galiee). In the morning, we also had to take our Hebrew Placement Test. I started with Bet, second level, it was pretty easy but I got confused in some parts. Then the Mifikedit (Female Commander) came over and told me to do the Gimmel, third level. It was a lot harder, but all stuff I have learned…and forgot…so I didn’t do so well. Later in the day, the Mifikedit came back and told me to do the Alph, first level. It was super easy and I finished it in five minutes. It wasn’t a really hard day, just a lot of information to process. We got to bed at about 11pm.
We woke up at about 0520 and started cleaning and getting ready for the day, after not being able to sleep though the night. My tzvet kept messing things up and not being on time, so we got yelled at a lot. Its amazing to me how yelling is not effective when they can’t punish us and its in a new language. After breakfast, the whole group of new soldiers got together to be split up into new tzvets. These tzvets are for the rest of the time we are in the course. I’m in Tzvet 8 and we have 13 guys. Right away I could tell this was going to be a much better group than the one I just left. Before lunch we got our Class Bet, B, uniforms. We wear our Class A off base and Class B on base. Also we got some bonding time to get to know each other. We have guys from all over the world; America, South Africa, Peru, Colombia, India, Ukraine, Russia, England, Turkey, France, and Australia *See the pic below*. We are all 19 to 25 years old. I really like all the guys and we are going to be a good friends. Everyone speaks English and our hebrew is all on about the same level. We spent the afternoon learning about each other, the symbols of Israel, rules, and how things are going to work. In this Tzvet, I have been taking more on. I now do most of the attendance sheets and count the time, all the time. Its a little annoying now, but I have been teaching the others how to do it and they are helping out. We then had to go to bed right after dinner. We were in our beds at 8:45pm, lights out. Oh, almost forgot. We also changed rooms! I am in a room of all the overflow from three tzvets. This is great because only half of the beds have someone, I get to meet more new people, its a big room, and its quiet at night. Why did we have to go to sleep so early…?
Fourth Day: Going Home
To answer your question above, we had to wake up at 0415 to get ready to go home. The first busses leave the base at 0530, so we had to get everything together and clean. Now, I don’t know why, but I got stuck waiting for the bus to the train until 0800. There were only about ten of us too…Damn, what a baser (bummer). We had a good time though and found out that the English guy in our Tzvet turned 20 today. What a birthday present…going home from the Army! Even better though, the Aussie in my Tzvet has his birthday on Sunday…the day we have to come back to the Army. The three of us went to the train finally and headed to our homes.
So thats about it for week one. Next week is going to be a lot different though. We will start basic training, Teranut 02, this is for the next two or three weeks. During this time we start doing Physical and Military Training…also we can be punished for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. Fun, I’m looking forward to a lot of push ups and running! We also soon get to learn to shoot our M16, First Aid, Safety, and Procedure.
Enjoy some pics too:
P.S. I’m sorry if there are any grammar or spelling mistakes, I’m too tired to re-read all this.