Well, yesterday morning was pretty good. Turns out the long-time Uncle Hugo's customer who offered to host me for my first night in Israel was in the IDF infantry before becoming a sociology professor. I mentioned that I've got an interest in small arms, so we spent most of the morning chatting about various guns. Apparently, when he was going through Basic in the IDF in the '70s, they started training them on WWII Mausers, then moved on to the SKS followed by the AK as well as training with the Galils that they were issued. Also, one of his sons is apparently a certified small-arms instructor for the IDF who might be taking me to a range here sometime. After spending most of the morning chatting about weapons and the Israeli approach to urban combat, we had falafel for lunch and then he drove me over to campus.
The campus here is really pretty; the entire city of Haifa is built up the side of Mt. Carmel, and the campus is up at the top. The whole city is very vertical. The dorms are lower on the mountain than the actual classrooms, however, so I'm going to have to climb a combined total of around 15-20 flights of stairs every morning before 8:00 to get to class. Not looking forward to that, but at least the weather won't be rainy, so my right leg's tendonitis should be ok.
When I moved into my room, I found out two things that kinda suck: no AC, and no internet in the dorms. I guess I got spoiled by my time in Japan: they really like their creature comforts over there, and everything is all about convenience... and this creature loves his comforts and convenience! Also, there are lots of feral cats living here on campus, including a family with at least three young ones living in one of the drainage pipes.
After unpacking, I went back to the main meeting area for a group tour of campus. It went really fast, and many areas of this campus seem kind of like a 3D maze, so I think the tour did a pretty good job of getting all of us fairly well turned around. After the tour, I went to the on-campus ATMs to try and withdraw money, and found out that my ATM card does not work at the campus ATMs (contrary to what I'd been told). Basically, this left me with no money and no way to get money. Thankfully, one of my roommates loaned me some money until I can get my situation straightened out. His whole family is Israeli, and he's been here for the summer ulpan for the last three years, so he'll probably end up helping me out with my Hebrew, and I'll teach him some Japanese, as he's planning on going to Tokyo sometime in the near future.
Also, the tech guy for the ulpan here is... interesting. I've got a picture of my firearms collection set as my desktop on my computer, so when he was helping set me up with internet access, he saw the pic and commented on it. We started talking guns a little bit, and I explained that the Mossad in the picture is a CZ-75 clone made under contract for Israel by Tanfoglio in Italy. This was all well and good, but when I explained that the internals of this CZ-75 clone were very similar to the internals of the Jericho (which is also pretty much a clone of the CZ-75, and also was, at least initially, built under contract by Tanfoglio in Italy), he got very indignant and pissed off and insisted that they're completely internally different... right... now, where I come from, if you can swap barrels, mags, slides, and firing pins that means the guns are fairly similar internally, even though they don't look that similar externally. Yes, one has a frame-mounted safety like a 1911 while the other has a slide-mounted safety/decocker, but both pistols actually have the holes in their respective parts for the other type of safety, merely plugged up with a metal pin.
Anyway, I've just finished taking my oral placement test (which wasn't as awful as I expected... it seems like no oral language placement tests are ever as ridiculously awful as the oral tests we had for Japanese at the U of MN). I've finished the rest of my paperwork; apparently, they never received the copies of my passport I mailed to them around a month ago, so I had to have my passport photocopied here, but that was not a big deal.
Now, I've got about 6 hours to kill until we have a group tour of Haifa. Starting to get a bit hungry, but I can't really afford to go anywhere that requires cash, and that appears to be pretty much everywhere on campus. I'll just have to hope my roommate can help me find an ATM that'll work during the tour. Until Bank of America sends me a new PIN number or I find an ATM that'll accept my ATM card, I'll just have to be a bit of a mooch.