Dear future Bnot Sherut,
Your year is about to begin! I'm so excited and proud of all of you for making the decision to do Sherut Leumi!
You may be nervous and scared right now of the language, of being alone, of the new job, but remember you're not the first person to have these worries and we all made it through. And not only did we survive, but for me and so many of my friends we can tell you that this was the best year of our lives!
Here are a few tips to help you with those worries:
1. Hebrew - Remember that people do want to hear what you have to say. It might be scary or intimidating at times, but just go for it! Say what's on your mind even if you know that you can't say it correctly. The more you do, the more comfortable you'll be next time. And there's nothing better than struggling out a sentence, but then having your coworkers use your ideas or think about what you just said!
2. Feeling Alone - Remember that you're not alone! Here Next Year and Bishvil are always a huge help. Go to events! Sometimes you'll be in your apartment surrounded by Israelis and forget that there are hundreds of girls who understand exactly how you feel. Go out, have a good time and meet some of them. Also, events are great for free food!
3. Starting A New Job - Anything new can seem scary, but soon enough it will be your normal. What seems so foreign right now is the place you'll feel the most at home. Don't be scared to ask questions and talk to the people you work with because they also want you to be happy and feel comfortable.
4. Always Ask For Your Discount - The country wants to thank you for everything you do so you get lots of free things. Make it a game to see what you can get a discount on. You get a discount on movies and tourist attractions, and you get buses for free. Go have fun! The government wants you to!
5. Dealing With Bureaucracy - Always bring something to do. Bring a book with you, that way when you've waited in line for two hours and you realize you were waiting in the wrong line or that this office isn't the one you need (yes, I've done both) then at least you've done something with your time. Ask as many questions as you can when you get the chance to talk to someone. Just make sure you know where you need to be and what you need to do. And if you have extra time make a day out of it, go discover something new near the office!
6. Have Fun -You're in Israel! Israel is amazing! If this is your one year here or just the first year of the rest of your life in this country take advantage. Use your free rides. If you pass by a donkey on your way to work everyday go spend a day at the beach. If you work in the city in an office building, go climb Masada. Go experience all sides of Israel and make memories - it's all part of your year!
No matter what happens this year remember you are giving a year of your life to this country. That is an incredible thing! While your friends might seem to be getting ahead by starting university, remind yourself that you are here for a reason. You can look around at the huge range of Sherut jobs and realize that the country values each and every role and that's why it exists as a Teken. The country runs on our work! And not only is just your job important, but it's important that it's you doing it! You remind people what it means to sacrifice for something greater, you give people appreciation for the country they live in and often take for granted, and you add your own personality to contribute uniquely to the place that you work.
This is a year of independence, growth, giving, fun, experience and crazy times. So for every day that's hard remember all the good days that you haven't had yet. And when it's hard to remember how proud of yourself you should be, remember that there are so many people around you that are so proud of you just for making the decisions you've already made (just tell the person driving your tremp, or the security guard at your work, and they'll remind you of that.) Take on every day remembering that you should be as proud of yourself as the random man you pass on the street is!
Kol hakavod and b'hatzlacha!
Ayelet Reiss is from Toronto and went to Migdal Oz. She served as a Bat Sherut in Bet Sefer Reishit this past year and will be doing an additional year of Sherut Leumi in Bat Melech Women's Shelter.