Almost 3 years ago I was notified that in order to keep advancing in the Peruvian academic professional ladder I needed to obtain a master’s degree. It came in the right moment, because I was looking for my next new challenge and the Israel bug was still in me; I felt the desire to go back and experience a bit more of what the so-called “Holy Land” had to offer me.
I did my research and the Conflict Resolution and Mediation MA International program at Tel Aviv University was the one that checked all the boxes in my list, but the journey was not simple.
Not only did I need to be accepted into the program, I needed to find funding, quit my two stable and well-paid jobs and face the fact that I was going to move to the other side of the world where everything was pretty much unknown to me.
Somehow between my resume, my motivation letter and my awkward phone interview, I managed to impress the head of my program and I got accepted! I even got a bit of a scholarship which made my student loan applications a little less scary and challenging.
On my first day of classes, I walked in through TAU’s gate 4 (the security guy is Argentinian, and that already made me feel home) and when I looked up, I saw the university’s flag emblazoned with the slogan: “pursuing the unknown”. Suddenly, it all clicked into place and made sense.
I cannot sum up my year long experience in a single article but I survived my master’s gloriously.
I took two unpaid internships that taught me about how Olim can integrate into their new homeland (thank you, Gvahim!) and what Israelis do to break the poverty cycle by eradicating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and other diseases of poverty in Ethiopia (thank you, Nala!). I learned a new language and culture (although language may be debatable, because I still panic when people talk to me and forget everything I have learned about Hebrew), I graduate as a nerd by playing Dungeons and Dragons once a week with classmates that have become long term friends (Thank you, D&D gang!).
I got lost, without internet to guide me, in the Old City alleys more times than I can remember (worth it, though!), I learned how to live on my own and not to die in the process (thank you, dorms Broshim!), I got the skills to resolve and mediate conflicts without biting someone’s head off (thank you, TAU!), I spent countless hours reading and writing papers to learn more about the world in the best library in the world (thank you, Brender-Moss library!).
I took the train more times in a year in Israel than in all my life in Peru (Thank you, Israel railways system!), I ate savich on weekly basis and obviously didn’t get fit at all (Thank you, Frishman!), I learned how to bargain like a true Israeli on my weekly groceries shopping (Thank you, Shuk HaCarmel!) and I even got to keep one of the lions that I kept taking pictures with around the capital of Israel (Thank you, Jerusalem!)
If you are still on the fence of applying to a university in Israel, just go for it! You have no clue what is coming your way, but I am telling you from personal experience, Tel Aviv University has all the tools you need to face the unknown, and tame it the way you want it to be. I shall continue pursuing the unkown for now here in Peru, and wherever life takes me in the future.