The past two days have been FULL of classes! Pop quizzes, hundreds of pages of reading, arabic classes... this stuff is real. I still feel like I'm on vacation or something since I'm in such a cool place, but no, school has begun. Luckily we sometimes have breaks between our morning and afternoon classes (I especially do since my Arabic class starts the latest). So, on Wednesday my roommates Whitney and Robin, our friend Kimberly, and I went to visit Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock! I have been obsessed with the Dome of the Rock since forever. I became even more so when I took Art History my senior year and learned about the architecture, etc. I've always thought it is one of the most amazing and beautiful buildings. The tiles are so intricately painted, and I love the way that Islamic churches/monuments use the Arabic script to decorate. Plus, the huge dome is gold. Awesome. A little history: the Dome of the Rock is located right on Temple Mount (aka Mt. Moriah). It is said to be in the exact place where Mohammed ascended to heaven and where Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice (but did not kill him). So, this place is a sacred crossroad for all three major religions. I was freaking out when we got there because I was just so excited to see it in person. First we had to go through security because we entered the Western Wall plaza. Then we had to go through security again because we left the plaza to get to the entrance to the Temple Mount. Then we had to go through a third time to actually go up the mount! Let's just say they are a little protective of their sacred places. It was so worth it though. The Dome is incredible. I really don't even have words. Needless to say, I took a whole lot of pics, but I can't upload them. Y'all will just have to wait :) That night we had a forum speaker, Paul Hirschner, who is from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was so interesting to hear a public officer speak about some of the problems that Israel is facing. It will be an exciting month here as the holidays start up, but also as the Palestinians have submitted to the UN a plea for recognized statehood, and the decision is to be made on the 20th. It will be really interesting to see what happens and the reactions that will be here.
Today (Thursday) was just a busy day of classes. Not really anytime to go into the city in between, but that's ok since we all have a bunch of homework to do. So I did laundry, reading, practiced piano... still not as cool as the city, but that's ok. BUT there was a concert at the Center tonight which was incredible. Once a month on Thursday, the Center hosts a Jazz/Ethnic music concert, and tonight was Jazz. I've always loved Jazz because my grandpa would play it in his car whenever we would drive around. It was the music he liked to listen to, so I liked it too. Ever since I was little, I've loved jazz and the standards. So already I was excited for this concert. Just to make it better, the pianist in the trio is a legit prodigy. I'm not kidding. He started playing the piano by ear when he was 6 months old. 6MONTHS. He's only 15 now, but way beyond his years musically. It really was incredible. They played with such vigor and I loved to watch their interactions with each other as they played and improvised. It's so nice that the Center hosts these concerts for the community, free of charge! They host classical concerts every sunday, then the jazz ones. Can't wait for the one this Sunday!