Apartment search in two languages

‘Alo, my name is Avigayil Alperin,* and I’m calling about your apartment for rent…’

A sentence that I uttered about two dozen times during our apartment search.

As many of you know, calling strangers on the phone is not my favorite thing even in English.

At first I had a hard time understanding people over the phone, where there is no body language and you are hearing a stranger’s voice, but there are only so many ways it’s possible to respond to my opening script, so after the first half-dozen times, it got easier.

After seeing over a dozen apartments, we finally settled on one. The landlord works down the hall as a secretary in Jeff’s department. We signed our contract on Dec 31, so it’s all official and we are starting to clean and move in!

The main challenge for me during the apartment search was to translate for Jeff while at the same time looking and listening critically. It was very hard to do both simultaneously, and also, since the other person’s words were in my mouth, it was sometimes hard to avoid agreeing with them unintentionally.

Most people here speak a little English, but I have found that my Hebrew is often better than their English, which is very gratifying. I was always nervous speaking Hebrew in America because generally the Israelis there spoke English better than I spoke Hebrew. Here people don’t switch to English unless I’m really struggling. I’ve found that my working memory is smaller–I couldn’t remember a 3-digit price for a bus pas because I was too busy speaking Hebrew.

Words I learned during our apartment search:

Renter, owner, to rent, to let, renovated, updated, central air, solar panel, gas tank (“balloon”), storage, salary, guarantor, deposit, contract, reference (recommendation), ad, sign, message, caller ID. (That’s not even all of the new words, just the ones that came to mind right now.)


*Israelis can’t pronounce Halpern so much…


5 thoughts on “Apartment search in two languages

  1. I am very amused. My trips to Brasil are occasionally met with deer in the headlights when I try to get my point across. Great job. It really helps knowing the language.

    • We are here for 20 months for a Fulbright Post Doctorate at the Technion. We intend to write an about page at some point. Currently, we fully intend to return to the states after the Post Doctorate.

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