Friday, December 3, 2010

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

was simply delightful. Petra, crusader castles, ancient Roman cities, a polyandrous date, new friends from Lebanon, and of course, King Abdullah and King Hussein. The people of Jordan love their king and after seeing his face everywhere for four days I think I love him too.

And here's a final picture just for fun. It was actually taken in Jerusalem, not Jordan, but I love it all the same.

Welp, Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


To honor American thanksgiving this week, here is a list of ten things I am grateful for:

1. The beauty of the Galilee.

2. People who build churches with beautiful domes and good acoustics that allow people like me to have extraordinarily wonderful experiences.

3. Sunsets over the Mediterranean that remind you that your life is awesome, even if you are missing your last Galilean sunset.

4. Singing “O Canada” on a small boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee (picture pending).

5. People who are hypothetically willing to hold your hair back when you hypothetically throw up on the bus after hypothetically eating an entire chocolate bar and a package of cola flavored Mentos for breakfast.

6. Christmas decorations.

7. Having an appetite on Thanksgiving (picture pending).

8. Jerusalem flavored ice cream (vanilla, pistachio, halva, and white chocolate).

9. Eating shawermas to my heart’s delight.

10. Sister Killian. This woman is such a gem. My day is always better after talking to her.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fear of needles: conquered

Dear friends and family,
I thought that if I told anyone my plan to donate blood today none of you would believe me. In fact, I only half believed it myself, which is why I decided not to tell anyone until it was done. Anyone who is familiar with my past relationship with needles would have good reason to doubt my ability to actually volunteer my blood to be drawn out of my arm. However, I am here to tell you that I, Stephanie Lee, conquered my fear and donated blood today! Special thanks to Jake, who filled my form out for me while I cried, helped me document the experience, and organized the blood drive, to Sister Judd, who was an angel and stroked my arm and told me stories while I was on the bed, and to the patient nurse who dealt with my periodic sobs and shaking. For proof that I'm not lying, here are some pictures:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Sometimes I don't know if you're talking about antique jewelry or Jewry of antiquity..." --James Peter Grant

In case you were wondering, I am still alive, I am still in Jerusalem, and I still love my life. However, I now know more about the history of the Jews, the Old Testament, and the Pan Arab Peace Initiative than I ever knew their was to know. The past month has been both wonderful and stressful. I feel my sympathies being pulled in a number of directions at an increasing rate. It's an interesting experience.

Anyway, in case you think I do nothing but schoolwork, I have included some pictures to prove you wrong. Here are some highlights of the last few weeks:

The city after the first rain

After our last of 24 hours of class in 4 days, 2 (maybe 3? I don't remember) midterms and one paper, I was delighted to find out that it rained. Sadly it hasn't rained since. Apparently Jerusalem is unusually hot for this time of year and I can't decide how I feel about it. I miss fall weather, but I'm also not all that eager to return home to a pile of snow.

Dome of the Rock

After at least 3 attempts, I finally saw it up close!


Last week our group took a much needed break to Eilat for some snorkeling. Eilat is located on the southern tip of Israel. From the beach we could see Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. I'm usually not a beach person, but everything is more fun when you have an underwater camera.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Fort Night!

Fort? Yes. Smores? Yes. Cool Runnings? Yes. Best night ever!

Olive Pressing

Being here during the fall has many advantages. One is that we are here for olive season. We picked a bunch of olives on the grounds, crushed them, and then pressed them for oil. This is me and Andrew by the press.

10/10/10 10:10 Party in the bomb shelter

We are always looking for reasons to celebrate, and the bomb shelter was made for dance parties. Please note the awesome shirt I bought in the Old City.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Here are a few pictures from Egypt. In order of appearance there is Sinai, THE pyramids, and the step pyramid of Joser. As you can tell, I am no longer afraid of looking like a tourist.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I'm back from Egypt! Unfortunately my lack of sleep and abundance of things to catch up on will force this post to be shorter than my Egypt experience deserves. Also unfortunate is that our internet connection at the center has been especially slow, so I can't even upload pictures if I try.

Our Egyptian adventure actually started in Israel. Our first night we stayed at a kibbutz about a half hour from the Egyptian border. We played in sand dunes and then had some nice meditation time in the middle of the desert as the sun was setting. No description will do it justice, so just trust that it was amazing! The desert experience was followed by a pool party and a barbeque where we ate hamburgers on pitas and sat on mats on the grass.

The rest of Egypt is kind of a blur, to be honest. I don't really remember what happened on which day, so I'm not going to try to get the timeline right and move on to the best parts. Here are some highlights:

1. The Pyramids! I don't think any explanation is needed.

2. Valley of the Kings. For some reason I was under the impression that this would only take about a half an hour, so I didn't bring my water bottle. Two and a half long, hot, and sweaty hours later, I was regretting my ignorance. Luckily when you live in the same building as your professor he starts feeling like your dad instead of your teacher, and you don't even think twice about drinking his water to prevent your dehydration. Despite the physical discomfort, this was one of my favorites. I absolutely LOVED seeing King Tut's tomb, and was a little heartbroken that cameras were not allowed and I couldn't take the "In Memory of King Tut" picture that I was dying to.

3. Waka Waka. Waka Waka will heal the world. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should fix that. Look up Shakira's music video from her World Cup song, and then read the rest of this post. During one of the first days after getting to Jerusalem, one of my fellow students decided to make it his mission to teach everyone the Waka Waka dance. When I asked him why he liked the song so much, he replied with "This song healed the world. Can we please just let it heal us too?" We did. Since we were in Africa, we figured Egypt was the perfect place for our debut. We danced in front of the pyramids, in front of Hatshepsut's temple, and on the bus ride home. We shouldn't have done it at the temple, because dancing there is not allowed, but we forgot. Some security guards came to tell us to stop and get us all in trouble, but after seeing the video recording the head guard reacted by saying "Wow, that's amazing! How did they learn that?" and then he let us off the hook. An awesome video should be coming soon. And by soon, I mean not that soon.

4. Sleeping on the night train from Luxor to Cairo. It was fun, except for the part where we didn't actually sleep and it wasn't actually fun. And the bathrooms were really gross.

5. The Egypt museum. There's nothing quite like staring into the face of Rameses II. I loved the mummies the most, but the rest of the museum was amazing as well.

6. Shopping! That's a lie. Shopping was extremely stressful for me. I don't do well with people yelling at me from every direction and trying to convince me I want to buy their stuff. However, I had one delightful experience in the bazaar. In one of the shops, I found a ring that I really wanted to buy. The guy I was with wanted one for his girlfriend, and he bought one first for more than I wanted to pay. After my friend left, I turned to the shop owner and said, "I won't tell him if you give me a cheaper price." He insisted that no, the price is good for Americans. I smiled and asked Canadians get a better price. He gave me a big smile and pointed to his window where he had at least 6 Canada stickers. He told me about how much he loved Canada, made me take a picture with him in his shop, and then gave me a discount. I love Canada!

Welp, that about sums Egypt up. It's weird that Jerusalem now feels like home. The Jewish holiday of Sukkot just ended, so we got back in time to see a lot of cool things related to that. I'll save those stories for another time. Happy Sabbath!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ode to Food

Instead of posting about the educational and uplifting activities I have been doing this week, I thought it important to create a dedicatory post to food. For those who know me well, it will be no surprise that I have found a few favorite treats in Jerusalem. Here are a few of my favorite and not-so-favorite ones.

Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.

I know it sounds good, but don't be fooled. I don't plan on buying it again.


Our friend Shabon ordered us some free, homemade hummus yesterday with warm, fresh, fluffy pitas. It was by far the best hummus I've ever had.


I have to admit that I've been getting excited for Jerusalem shawarmas all summer, and they do not disappoint! This one tasted quite similar to the ones you can get at Eau Claire. Eating it made me a little bit homesick, which is sort of strange since it is a middle eastern food. It's going to be hard for me not to spend all my money on these suckers.

French toast breakfast

I've been trying to resist the french toast, but somehow these delicious treats end up on my plate every morning. It's basically just deep fried bread, but boy does deep fried bread taste delicious. If I come back with a softer stomach than you remember, you can blame these little guys.

Heart of palm and pomegranates

Pomegranates taste a lot better than pomegranate juice, and heart of palm has always been a favorite of mine. I think I've had this exact same salad for both lunch and dinner for the last two weeks, and I'm still not sick of it.

These are a few of my favorite things

Going to Hebrew University has allowed me to put up pictures! Here are a few of my favorite things I've seen so far.

This is the cool Ramadan chandelier I talked about in my last post.

Cool thing at the Garden Tomb.

Remember that Coldplay song that talks about the Jerusalem bells? Yeah, that's me, right after I played them for the entire city to hear. Cool right?


Wadi Qelt, also known as the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Yes, that's right. I now speak enough Arabic to give this post a fancy Arabic title. Unfortunately that is one of the only words I know so far, so hopefully no one reading this knows enough Arabic to also know that the title has little to do with the subject of the post.

Anyway, on to more important things. Jerusalem is pretty great. It gets better all the time. I mean, it was cool to begin with, but I feel like as time goes on I get more attached to it. I am slowly starting to understand why everyone who has done this program comes away with an eternal loyalty to this city.

Since the last post I've been able to do a ton of cool things, including:

The Ramparts Walk: This is a cool touristy thing that allows you to walk on top (sort of) of the walls surrounding the old city. My favorite part was counting the satellite dishes on top of people's houses. Actually, that was my second favorite. My first favorite part was knowing that I was walking on the wall surrounding the old city instead of walking down 700 E on my way to school.

Geography Field Trip: This might be the coolest field trip I've ever been on. We took a bus to various look-out points surrounding the city to learn all about the geography of the land around Jerusalem. This is to help us visualize things and also help us understand how and why the city developed the way it did. My favorite part was looking at Bethlehem. I'm so excited to go there!

St. Anne's church and the Pool of Bethesda: A small group of students went here a couple of days ago. The church was built to honor the birthplace of Mary, and has BEAUTIFUL acoustics. Two of our group members were able to sing inside the church and we were blown away by their talent. We weren't the only ones though. A group came in just as our friend was finishing up, and a lady that was in the group followed us out and demanded that he give an encore performance. That was pretty great. So was the pool. They have excavated down about 30 meters to the steps into the pool that would have existed during Christ's time.

Western Wall Shabbat welcoming: Also a treat. I can't wait to visit the wall more times during the day. There was plenty of singing, dancing, and people-watching to be had. I was happy.

Garden Tomb visit: Today we were able to visit the Garden Tomb as a group. It's another thing that I am excited to do more of.

Enjoy all sorts of holidays: This week was both the end of Ramadan for the Muslims and Rosh Hashanna for the Jews. My favorite part was admiring the creativity of the Ramadan lights. One that particularly impressed me was a chandelier made from plastic cups and tissue paper. I would include a picture, but our internet is too slow and it won't let me.

Group bonding: There has been everything from dance parties and soul sessions to watching movies like "Charly" and "Prince of Egypt." I have loved getting to know everyone in this group, and can hardly wait to see how well I know them after a few more months.

Egypt in one week from tomorrow!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Live from the Holy Land

I'm here! After two hours of sleep, a minor panic attack, 24 hours of nearly sleepless travel, and a few more hours soaking in the city, I made it! The jet lag has almost worn off, but I think that the three hour accidental nap I had yesterday didn't help much, nor does the virus I contracted sometime in the last 24 hours. The night before last I fell asleep around 11, but my roommate didn't come in until around 1:30. For some reason when she came in I woke up and thought it was time to get ready, so I hopped in the shower and didn't figure out it was only 2 until I was ready for the day. It was funny, in a not very funny kind of way.

Jerusalem is wonderful. Right now it's Ramadan, which is really cool. Actually it might have ended last night. Anyway, for the last few nights the call to prayer has been extra cool, and extra loud at 4:30 in the morning. When we first got here nothing really seemed real and I felt bad that I didn't feel as thrilled to be here as I expected, but as soon as the call to prayer sounded I got really excited to be here. We've only gone into the city a few times. I'm really excited to spend more time there. Today a bunch of us walked to Gethsemane. Isn't it cool that I can do that? Yeah, I thought so too.

Anyway, we're not really supposed to upload pictures here because the internet is slow, but I'll include two just to prove that I'm here. The first is a picture of my first night's sunset over the city, taken from the Jerusalem Center, and the second is of our first day of school.

Monday, August 30, 2010


As you may have discovered already, this blog was once used to record the Lee sisters' trip to Guatemala. Since I didn't feel like creating a new blog, I decided to continue the travel/adventure theme and use this blog for Jerusalem as well. Enjoy!