I'm writing this post to all of you out there who just made aliyah, are thinking of making aliyah, or will soon be making aliyah.
We've been here a little over 5 years (this time around), and I cannot lie. It's hard. It's not ALWAYS hard. But overall, there are so many adjustments to make when you pick up and move from a Western country to Israel, so I won't lie and say that it's easy.
But it's important to remember why you're here. Each of us has our own reasons for picking up and making this move, so it's important to keep that in mind, especially on the hard days.
Remembering why you came will help you get through the hard times.
Here are a few other things I think can help:
Find support. I cannot stress enough just how important it is to have someone to talk to when things aren't going your way. Someone who will understand you, won't judge you, and hopefully, maybe, will help you see your way back to feeling better. If you don't have support, some days it will seem like it's just too much for you to handle! (This can be a supportive friend, family member, or a therapist. It all depends on what works for you.)
Have an emergency fund. I know it's not easy to save money, but try to scrimp and save and set some aside. Because one day you're going to need that emergency fund. Maybe your landlord lied to you and your new place is not livable and you need to move - you'll need a way to pay for it. Or maybe your roof in your new house is leaky - and you'll need to find a way to fix it. (Trust me, I speak from experience. My roof has sprung a leak. Again.)
Live smaller than you are used to. It isn't easy, but if your emergency funds are low, this is the only way to build it up. Live small, and save any extra shekels. Are you used to ordering pizza on a regular basis? Maybe that's the 50 shekels a week you can set aside. Make a simple supper at home (nothing wrong with eating sandwiches for supper sometimes!) instead of ordering pizza, and use that money to build up your emergency fund! Or maybe you don't even order pizza ever. There is probably something you can cut back on. I have rarely met a new "oleh" in this country who doesn't spend extra somewhere.
Learn Hebrew. I know, it's hard. It really is. But when you don't understand the language it's easy to feel lost. So if you are eligible for a subsidized Ulpan, I recommend you MAKE IT HAPPEN. Too many olim I've spoken to don't bother to do ulpan, or drop out after a short time. It's not worth it! Speaking Hebrew will help you survive for the decades ahead.
Check your credit card statements. I have heard the (rare) story of horrendous mistakes. You can log in to your account (where exactly depends who issued your card) and keep track. If there is a mistake, make sure you track down the source (did your barber charge you 5000 shekels instead of 50, like the story I heard recently?) and get it fixed. You can also call the credit card company for help with that.
Check your bills. Does your water bill list the correct number of people in your household? Did you know that if you have a larger family than what they think, you are missing out on your rate reduction? Get it straightened out, right away. Most water companies won't do much about retroactive reductions, but at least you'll have a lower bill from now on.
Find Discounts. Keep track of things like income tax refund programs, and arnona discounts you may be eligible for. Apply early - too many people push it off and miss out.
Give yourself a break. Making aliyah is stressful. If you don't relax and de-stress, it's going to wear you out. Pick an hour a week when you have down-time. This doesn't actually have to cost you anything. It can be as simple as turning off your phone and going for a walk to a nearby scenic overlook. Or sit and talk with a friend (in person or on the phone), or watch a movie or TV show with your spouse or significant other, or anything else that may relax you. As long as you see this as "my break-time", it can go a long way in recharging your batteries and helping you de-stress.
I'd love to hear all of your survival tactics, too. Please leave yours in the comments section below!
Let's also remember that sometimes a smile and a helping hand to someone who's new here and having a tough time can REALLY go a long way!
Aliyah may be stressful, but I know you can do it. I'm rooting for you!