On the Honey and the Beesting

Friday, May 26, 2006

Yom HaStudent

At all Israeli universities (and some colleges), there is a fabulous institution known as Yom Hastudent, or "Student Day". This is when all of the students of a particular university or college get a day off of school that has been pre-selected by their respective Student Union (Hereby known as the Agudat Hastudentim, or, just the ****ing Agudah), and then later in the day, they attend a fun-filled event, also planned by their ****ing Agudah, where they will get lots of free stuff from different sponsors, eat lots of (junk) food, and attend concerts by famous Israeli musicians.

Such is the background to the events planned yesterday, May 25th, by the University of Haifa's ****ing Agudah, who's slogan, kan bishvilcha/bishvilech(here for you), is a big joke.

**Disclaimer: The term ****ing Agudah only applies to the Agudat Hastudent at the University of Haifa. I'm told the ones at the Technion and at Tel Aviv University are pretty awesome.

In September, I paid the ****ing Agudah (who was not the ****ing Agudah at the time, but rather just the Agudat Hastudentim) money to become a member, which got me, for starters, a great backpack and an agenda, but also promises of free/discounted entry to all events planned by the Agudah.
They kept their promise when it came to the 8% discount at the bookstore
They kept their promise with their weekly concerts of relatively famous musicians/bands every wednesday accompanied with free (!) beer
They kept their promise with the fantastically discounted 5-month bus-pass
They kept their promise with the wildly cheap after-school activities like dancing and yoga.
But they royally screwed me over when it came to Yom Hastudent, and so my 10 month-long love affair with the ****ing Agudah came to an end.

On all the signs around the university promoting Shlomo Artzi! Tzvika Pik! Sarit Hadad! Shotei Hanevua! Mashina!, were also the words "Free for members of the Agudah". And 60 shekels for soldiers/other students.
So on the day they began ticket sales, I went down with my card and asked for the free agudah ticket. But the girl at the desk looked at my card and said "Oh, you're an overseas student. I'm sorry, but you don't get it for free. You need to pay 60 shekels". And I said "No, you're mistaken, because the very fact that I have this card is because I am a member of the Agudah." And she said "Well, I can't find you in the system, so my hands are tied, but go down to the Agudah office and I'm sure they'll take care of it". So I go downstairs to the office, and politely describe the situation to the secretary, in English, because when it comes to administrative problems, I like to be able to fully understand what's going on. She turns to her boss and explains the situation to her. And the boss totally flips out. In Hebrew. At me.
"Oh, I hate these overseas students! They're so spoiled, and they're always demanding things, and I caved when they wanted membership to the Agudah, and I gave in to them with the bus pass which they shouldn't have gotten, but I won't give in to the Yom Hastudent tickets, because they don't pay nearly as much as our students, and they don't pay student fees, and the answer is no!"
And she storms out of the office to, I don't know, photocopy something.

Big. Mistake. Just because I'm currently expressing myself in English does not mean I don't understand it when you are being a total heinous bitch to me in Hebrew. Also, like any other exchange student at any university on the planet, I pay a hell of a lot more money to attend this school than a regular Israeli university student. And I did pay all of my student activity fees, for more than regular Israeli students paid, I just happened to pay it to a different department. But I was too shocked to repeat all this to her also visibly shaken secretary. So I went upstairs and complained to the head of the overseas department, who promised to solve the matter. My counselor comes down to the office, and starts talking to Ms-I-Am-Overdue-For-A-Workshop-In-Customer-Relations (herein known as Ms IAOFAWICR), who backtracks on the whole "I totally lost it in front of a student" scene and explains that in fact, she's not giving me the free ticket for my own benefit, because the student card I have, which says that I am an Agudah member, is different from the normal agudah card, because they essentially gave us a glorified ISIC (International Student ID Card) card instead of the right card back in september, and they're worried that the guard at the gate won't recognize my card when I present it with my free agudah ticket.
To which I say, loudly, and not unobnoxiously, "So because you idiots screwed up in September, I have to pay 60 shekels?"
My counselor shushes me, and I say, again, and not unobnoxiously, "No, it's okay Eliad, she made it clear that she doesn't speak English when she was a total bitch yesterday in Hebrew."
He shushes me again, and I ask, "Well, if the problem is with our cards, which will work for the 60 shekel ticket, why not just tear off a couple of sixty shekel tickets off the top and hand them to us for free? That way, we get in for free and there won't be a problem with our cards at the gate"
And then Ms IAOFAWICR is all "No, the tickets have serial numbers, and if we report some as not being paid, we have a tax problem"
Because I totally care about your tax problems.
Give me my damn free ticket!
At the end of the day, and after letting it get all the way to the board of governors, the matter was not resolved, and I had to pay 60 shekels to get in. Which is not a terrible price; it was more the principle of the thing.

So after determining that The ****ing Agudah Must Die A Terrible Miserable Death, I went to the Mitcham Ketzef where Yom Hastudent was being held. The entire day was pretty great, except I have to admit I was disappointed when I found out that Mitcham Ketzef (which means Foam Premises) was just the name of the area, as opposed to being a Foam Room (cause I saw "Foam Room" and was all "this is the coolest university, ever, hands down. A FOAM room?!? Wow." And then I thought of CSI, where they had an episode with a bubble/foam room at a club and a guy gets stiletto-heel-through-the-necked to death and was all "hmmm...potential for disaster" because I learn everything I know from CSI, but I was still undeterred), so that was a little sad. But even though the concerts started 2 hours after schedule, and even though it was the hottest it's been so far (35 degrees because of the humidity), and even though there was no shade, and even though I harbor animosity toward the ****ing Agudah, and even though Mitcham Ketzef is really just a glorified outdoor ranch with packed dirt floors and NO shade from the sun that was beating down, and even though I have a nasty sore throat from the dirt, Yom Hastudent was AMAZING!

This is, of course, because of all the food stands, there was a thai noodles place.

I am also a closet Sarit Hadad fan. And Shlomo Artzi is nothing to sneeze at, either.

And Tuborg handed out clever little boxes where you pull a tab as if it is a beer can and out pops a lemon-flavored condom and the inside of the box says "taste the summer" and I love it when organizations pass out clever little condoms with clever little sayings (like how at Queen's, the Hillel passes out condoms that say on the wrapping "Israel needs protection and so do you". Brilliant!)

And there was a Playstation van where you could (and I did) play EA Sports! Soccer for as long as your heart desired. Though I must admit, I don't know how to play soccer on a video game for the life of me. But yelling at the screen/my controller/my opponent for a solid half hour without being told to "Please leave because Ma'am, you're making a scene", was awesome.

You know of course, that if it wasn't for the thai food/Sarit Hadad/clever condoms/Playstation van, that I would have been just as fine. But I still hate the ****ing Agudah. Because they're probably responsible for, like, the Middle East Conflict. And ecological disasters, like, global warming.


Next week: Yom Hastudent at the Technion! Which, proving that it is so many worlds more awesome than Haifa University, will be a two-day event featuring Shlomo Artzi (who is actually performing at a whole bunch of other university yom hastudents), Ivri Leider, Miri Mesika, Beit Habubotg, HaGiraffot, Galgalatz, the IDF bands, Aviv Gefen, Shalom Chanoch, Hayehudim, and a bunch of other artists I haven't heard of.
And hopefully, some thai food.


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