Finding Home Far From Home
India International Week is around the corner. One of our Indian TAUi students speaks about her experiences both back home and here in Tel Aviv.
Anusha Datta is originally from India and is currently studying in the MFA in Documentary Cinema program at Tel Aviv University International. For her, India Week is more than just a celebration of colors and flavors. It is also a reminder of home. Keep reading to see her perspective on her studies, India Week, and her new home away from home: Tel Aviv.
I arrived in Israel six months ago and began an overwhelming experience in Tel Aviv University. The decision to come to this small nation to pursue a Master’s in Documentary Cinema seemed like a no-brainer. This country has a unique pulse; rooted in rich history, culture and politics; a description I find suitable when I introduce myself as a student from India. A nation with her roots to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, a culture that is diverse, multi-faceted and unique. This week TAU celebrates India Week and I hope to use this opportunity to share what makes my campus life compelling as an international student.
One of the greatest challenges students face in a new environment is finding a sense of belonging. It's human nature to seek friendship and comfort from people around us. I cannot recall how I began talking to my batchmates, but few of them have now become dear friends who have made my stay warm and welcoming. Each of us have grown up in different countries, we speak different languages, we eat differently and believe differently, but somehow we have bonded with this sense of belonging. I call them my family because far from home; their companionship and love is what makes me feel like I have a home of my own. And it's true as people say, that friendships that are formed in our adulthood are stronger because we find our own identity in our 20s and we learn to unlearn through our experiences and interactions.
Tel Aviv is thriving with youthful stories from all walks of life, and this bustling city has been a playground of sorts. Part of my journey as a documentary filmmaker includes some self-work, and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone helps my pursuits. I’ve grown from a shy young girl to a curious woman who finds joy in speaking to people, hearing about their unique lives and just taking a step back to listen. The campus is a bubble within itself, everyone seems to be walking with a purpose. It’s not simply to praise my fellow TAU students, but you can sense the ambition and eagerness. I recently joined extra course with other departments to supplement my studies, and the lecture rooms are engrossed with debate and discussion. No one opinion is better than the other, and we’re put to a challenge that make us question our rigid beliefs.
Learn to unlearn and then learn more…I genuinely think this sums up my first semester.
Back home, I identify with many labels that go beyond my nationality. I like that I have inherited my lineage from two different communities and States that my parents belong to, because for the past 24 years, I lived in my own little bubble of a multi-cultural and multi-lingual household. The two decade long preparation has come handy as I have maneuvered half a year in Israel, exploring the Holy Land, meeting like minded artists at museums and exhibitions, making small talk with Israelis in the crowded bars hearing about their adventures from their trips to India. All of this as only brought me closer to realizing the close ties India and Israel share. Two nations that share a nuanced and complex ecosystem of religion, art, history with a growing modern identity; technical and scientific. And most importantly, finding a middle ground for opposing human nature and the ever challenging humane experience of diversity and living the identity of a global citizen.
I hope aspiring students feel the same urge to explore and grow, because life within the University is never a constant. You have to fight change with a positive outlook and take back what are both good and bad memories and then some unforgettable ones as well!