One 15 minute interaction in a falafel restaurant was the biggest confidence boost I’ve had since being in Israel. It is very common for a worker to respond to a non-native in English even if they try to speak in Hebrew because of their accent or use of basic vocabulary. Every time I’ve been to Israel, I always speak in Hebrew as much as possible, but I was always used to getting a response in English. This time was different. I ordered food for myself and two of my friends- all in Hebrew. I spoke to the guy making the falafel about my gap year, and he never once spoke to me in English. I finally felt confident in my accent and use of casual conversational Hebrew outside of the classroom. This interaction was during my second week of my gap year, and since then I have had many more similar experiences in stores, restaurants, and with Israeli students that live on the same campus as I do. I’ve even acted as a translator for my friends and have been able to ask locals whenever we needed help at a train station or getting somewhere.
That first interaction in the falafel restaurant made me feel accomplished and proud that I kept speaking in Hebrew even though I knew I could get around with English. I was self-conscious about my accent, incorrect use of grammar, and basic vocabulary, but I’ve found that I honestly know more than I think. The more I speak in Hebrew, the more confident I become, and it’s only going to start feeling more and more natural. I feel so happy with the progress I have made, and I can’t wait to see how much I will improve over the year!