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Unfortunately, I’m leaving Israel 3 weeks early…

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the news, things in Israel and Palestine aren’t too good right now. In June, 3 Israeli boys were kidnapped in the West Bank, and last week their bodies were found in a ditch. Since then, a Palestinian boy was kidnapped and killed as an act of revenge. There have been protests throughout the West Bank, and there has been a lot of violence here in Jerusalem - especially in East Jerusalem (which isn’t super close to me) and in the Old City (which I can see looking out my apartment window). Plus, Hamas and Israel are firing rockets at each other once again… From reports it looks like this might be the beginning of the third intifada.

With all this fighting, we have been told not to go into the West Bank, thus we can’t do our research. We tried to wait and see if things have calmed down, but they’ve only gotten worse, and it doesn’t seem like things are ending any time soon. Plus, the violence is, quite literally, outside our door, making it a little unsafe to be here. My research partner and I made the difficult decision today to end our research prematurely and return home this Thursdsay.

It’s a bittersweet feeling, to say the least. I don’t want to leave and give up on our research, but at the same time, waiting here and hoping for things to get better is a waste of time and money. Plus, if everything were to get better, organizations will be so focused on cleaning up the mess - they wont have time to help us. Nor should they make the time - I don’t want to take time away from those who need help.

I’ve got 3 full days to enjoy Jerusalem. It’s weird to think I’m going home, but at the end of the day I know it’s the right decision.

Things I want

-Chinese food

-My headache to go away

-A nap

-McDonalds

-The children in my apartment building to stop screaming 24/7

-Chapstick

-My puppies

-This cinnamon croissant thing from one of the markets

-Good shawarma

-My stipend check to come in

-My bed at home

I’m definitely feeling the culture shock/culture fatigue today. Don’t get me wrong, these past 13 days in Israel have been amazing. But damn, today is definitely not my day.

I spent the afternoon walking around the Old City of Jerusalem. I’m still in shock that I am back in Israel, and this time I’m not just visiting and going on guided tours, but I’m actually living here - with rent to pay and groceries to buy. Even if it’s only for two months, this is truly a dream come true.

Of course I’m overwhelmed with it all. I hate not being able to read signs around me, or understand what people are saying, or even know where I’m going. Part of my personality is always needing to be informed, and here I can’t be. It’s stressful. But it’s a good thing. I don’t always have to know what is going on, and I don’t need to feel overwhelmed with not being in control. It’ll be a good lesson for me.

Tomorrow’s goals - get some fresh squeezed juice at some point, figure out my financial situation, and meet new people.

Tomorrow is the big day!

I’m leaving for Israel tomorrow for two months! While I’ll be updating this blog with the stories I don’t want my parents to see, I’ll also be keeping a wordpress blog that will be more family friendly :) of you happen to be on wordpress, check me out at allycollender.wordpress.com

Next personal post will be in about 36 hours when I’m in Israel!

My trip is officially back on! Unfortunately, instead of living in the West Bank we have to live in Jerusalem but I don’t even care because I will be spending two months in Israel and Palestine and I am SO EXCITED!!

So fucking blown right now

I just spoke to my coordinator for my fellowship, and the school that is hosting the fellowship is reconsidering letting is go to the West Bank due to it being unsafe. My fucking masters degree is going to be in conflict analysis and resolution - in order to study areas of conflict, there is that risk of being unsafe. I understand this and I am still willing to go because I believe that learning the Israeli and Palestinian narratives surrounding the water crisis is worth the fucking risk. Goddammit the school has no issues with people going to Burma or Mexico - FOR FUCKS SAKE MEXICO IS ONE OF THE LAST PLACES ANYONE SHOULD GO RIGHT NOW. I honestly don’t understand - my undergraduate and graduate school has programs that allow students to go to the West Bank… So why won’t this school let us. I just cannot comprehend how a school can have a center for conflict studies with a focus on international conflicts and then not encourage students to research these conflicts.

I’m hoping for the best, but dammit I really wanted this to work out. This past year has been one of the hardest of my life. I am afraid of spiraling into another state of depression if this trip doesn’t work out. It took me forever to get out of my bad place before… I’m not sure if I can go through that again so soon. I just want to do this fucking fellowship in the land that I love and want to spend my life researching and helping.

SOOO I just joined tinder a couple of days ago

Some observations I’ve had -

-most guys have pictures of them drinking cheap beer
-1/6 guy has an anchorman quote in his About Me section
-about half of the guys do not have individual pictures or close ups on their faces
-1/15 guys have a fake age (and they acknowledge it)
-the guys who warn me that there are “weirdos” on tinder are the most creepy of them all.
-about half the guys I’ve talked to have began the conversation calling me “cutie” or “darling” or something of that nature.

I feel like I should do a research project on tinder.

Is a utopia really a dystopia?

Today in class we were discussing social contracts and Rousseau and whatnot, and it led me down an interesting thought pathway. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of utopia - I’ve written papers in undergrad about utopia, my favorite genre of books have dystopian themes, hell the background on my computer is a piece of art called “utopia”.

But is utopia truly a good thing? When I idealize utopia, I picture a society with no problems whatsoever. There is no need for conflict. But, as I’m slowly learning in graduate school, conflict is a necessary aspect of life. It’ is part of human nature. And conflict can help further advance society. So how can an utopia exist without conflict? 

Thus, my definition of utopia must change. Utopian societies must have some degree conflict, but I have also learned throughout this semester that once conflict begins, no matter how small, it is incredibly difficult to stop it. Emotions run high, tensions escalate, and then parties spiral down a path of larger conflicts, sometimes to the point of violence.

So does a potential utopian society have conflict, with the potential of it spiraling out of control, or have no conflict, which goes against human nature? Now that I’m starting to really get a grasp of my program, I fear the idea of a utopia with no conflict - to me a society with no conflict is a society of drones with no individual thoughts or feelings. And, to me, this isn’t a utopia… this is a dystopia. To be completely homogeneous with every other member of society sounds dull and uninspiring and counter-evolutionary in some way. How can society advance if everyone agrees?

Thus, the conclusion I came to while I was not listening to my professor talk about Sri Lanka, is that a society, whether utopian or not, must have conflict. But how can society control conflict so that it doesn’t escalate? Should society control conflict? Or would preventing major conflicts be just as bad as having no conflicts at all?

I’ve always had a dream of writing a utopian/dystopian novel, and while I never had a solid plot or characters, this definitely throws a wrench into my plans, because now I can’t even describe what a utopia is. 

So since today was a snow day I have to take my midterm essay at home… Luckily it’s open note open book, and we have 4 hours to complete it. I’ve just reached hour 3, and I’m pretty much done, but I’m freaking out because I think I am missing key points but I don’t know what those points are and am I turning it in too early and what if I don’t do well and why did I decide to go to grad school again and what if I choose the wrong question to write about it and ughghghghgh

Needless to say I’m a little stressed out right now.

I had this crazy dream last night that I need to get outta my head because I can’t stop thinking about it…

So in this world there are two types of people - the ruling/wealthy/elite group and the poorer/weaker group. You’re born into a group, but it is in your genetics to just loathe the other side. Like, you don’t have a choice - you are programmed to just hate the other.

I was orphaned but I grew up on the wealthy side, where I was trained and became a knight whose purpose was to protect the prince. I was like a body guard for him, and everything was fine until one day I had this urge to kill him. I didn’t act on it, but this urge came out of nowhere. So then goes this downward spiral of me trying to understand where this urge comes from, and it ends up that I am originally from the poor/weaker group of people, yet I can’t make contact with them because it’s against the law, but the more I realize who I am the more I start to hate everyone around me. And I can’t tell anyone or else I might be imprisoned or something, but I’m just having this huge identity crisis and then I woke up.

Needless to say, I woke up extremely stressed out this morning and somewhat inspired to write a book? It’s weird.