Opinion | Love the Unexpected

By Ariana Fricke

14 February 2022

This Valentine's Day: TAUi student and Ambassador, Ariana Fricke, shares her love for her studies in the Liberal Arts BA program, and explains how it impacted her own love story.



Growth a World Away


The year was 2018. As a new Abitur graduate, I decided to become a volunteer overseas, which is quite common for Germans to do before starting university studies. However, I did not aspire to go where most people go. Instead, I decided I wanted to challenge myself and my perceptions and thus, I choose Israel. I felt as if there were aspects to this country that I couldn’t grasp without being here, and that ultimately coming face-to-face with this country would teach me something new and valuable.


Therefore, having just turned 19, I started said year of volunteering in a hostel for people with Autism in Tel Aviv. Easily, this year could have been counted as the most difficult of my life. Being confronted with a culture that was so different from the one I knew, being away from my family and friends, and working in such a unique environment were certainly all experiences that held distinctive challenges. Yet, I would not exchange this adventure for anything. There is something inexplicable about finding yourself in an unprecedented challenge. In fact, I believe that the greatest personal growth results from leaving one’s comfort zone. Israel has great potential in expanding one’s worldview precisely because it is so diversified and difficult discussions are often unavoidable (As people here are more likely to say what they think).


Finding Ahava


While I did expect my volunteering year in Israel to change me, I not only underestimated the metamorphosis I would go through, but also how much my life itself was going to transform. I am not exaggerating here – I indeed completely changed what I had planned for my future and that is because I fell in love, head over toe, with an Israeli and Tel Aviv University student.


It just clicked between us, and the idea arose from our conversations leading me to eventually decide to become a student of the Liberal Arts BA program at Tel Aviv University International, instead of returning to Germany and starting a degree there. Indeed, this was the best decision I ever made, especially with the consideration that we are now engaged.


While I met him through my work as a volunteer, we also bonded through our studies at TAU. He was already studying for his B.A. in the History of the Middle East and North Africa when we met. Before I was even a student, he often took me to the campus, acting as my own my private guide in a way.


Piece of my Heart


Nevertheless, I find it important to specifically mention the important role the Liberal Arts BA program played for me and my relationship. Being a student at Tel Aviv University might have a more of a personal meaning to me than to others. Regardless, I highly recommend the program to anyone looking to expand their horizons. The possibility to study with interesting and multidisciplinary tracks enables the students to understand topics from diverse angles.


Ariana, Liberal Arts student, at the Sea of Galilee


So far, lectures in the Psychology and Philosophy tracks have especially stood out to me. Learning about these subjects while adjusting to a new life and partner contributed to a smooth adaptation. In addition to the knowledge I gained, my peers further enrich my experience.


The program attracts a wide variety of people from all over the world and further encourages diverse opinions to interact, resulting in incredibly interesting discussions. Being exposed to many differing opinions in lectures and in private meetings with peers fostered a flexible and compassionate mindset. Essentially, not only did I learn how to debate in a more efficient way, but also to listen to others and acknowledge the differences or mistakes in my own thinking.  


At Last


What I am trying to get at here is that being a student at TAUi did not only teach me about psychology, philosophy, Jewish and Israel studies, or digital culture and communication (the four tracks I concentrate on). Rather, my studies provided me with a deep understanding of life itself. Essentially, the degree prepares you for life and its challenges in a way that enables you to remain objective in any scenario. I fostered a better understanding of life itself and thus became a better partner, and a more considerate person in general.


Therefore, I attribute finding happiness with my fiancée not only to him being a great person and partner but also to Israel and the Liberal Arts BA degree. Israel showed me what I am capable of, the potential and the strengths I have. I understood myself more by testing my limits, even in experiences I couldn’t have imagined while living in Germany. This includes living through a war – being scared and yet still being able to find compassion for people and life. The degree on the other hand contributed to my personal growth in a different, yet equally important way.


Since I am continuing to live in Israel and am not yet finished with my degree I expect to keep growing. However, by now I know to expect the unexpected and I feel ready for life to happen. These are the wonders that leaving one’s comfort zone and love can work.

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