I'm still at ulpan five days a week from 8:30-12:45. Well, it's really 8:30ish....Now that I drive the kids to school I find I run late almost every day. It was definitely easier for me to be on time when they had to leave 15 minutes before me so they could catch a public bus. Now that we all leave together, it's a giant scramble for me to be ready and still do things that I used to do after they left. Minor things like eating breakfast....
I decided to go back and do Level Bet for a second time, rather than stay in Level Gimel. It may have been possible for me to hang in there in Gimel, but it seemed like a poor choice of where to put my energies. As the teacher said to the whole class, "If you feel like you're challenged in class, good! Why are you in class if you're not learning anything? If you're up at night stressing about whether you can keep up in class, then it's too high a level". Three of us are now "Gimel refugees" back in Bet. Chana is taking level Gimel now and doing fine. Where would I, the linguistic weak link, be without my family? (Probably banging my head on the computer while trying to figure out how to pay the electric bill.....).
Bet is a nice class. The entire class is religious, including the teacher, which is an interesting change from last year's class with many secular Russians/Ukrainians and a secular teacher (although the teacher has clearly been hanging out here a long time. When a couple in class had a party celebrating their daughter's engagement, she wore a sheitel! I was pretty stunned to see her, and kept thinking how I couldn't imagine a non-religious woman in the US buying a wig just to wear to religious events she gets invited to).
I'm enjoying having a different teacher and getting used to her teaching style. My goal in repeating Bet is to improve my grammar. Perhaps there will come a time in the future that I won't, in the middle of a conversation, have to apologize for saying something incorrectly and give the ol' "Sorry, I'm an immigrant" line. Tough teacher, though--tests at least twice a week, including make-up tests if you miss class! It really works for me, though, because I see how much more I'm studying at home because I don't want to perform poorly on the test :)
Each student has to give a presentation to the class. No reading straight from a paper, but notes are allowed. It's encouraged to write a vocabulary list on the board (in English, French and Spanish, the languages of the students in this class) and use that as your notes (which I did). The subject is totally open, so yesterday, when it was my turn, I spoke about working as a school/summer camp nurse and told some of the wackier stories I've experienced. When my family asked at dinner about how the presentation went, I surprised everyone (including myself) by getting a bit misty-eyed when I spoke about putting on my lab coat and stethoscope to give the talk. Kind of reminded me of the superhero who goes into retirement and then looks at her cape longingly....Well, we'll see. Once I've mastered Gimel I can go into a medical uplan. For now, though, the days are quite busy enough!