Erica Mandell

One year ago today I was crouched down next to the 6th of October bridge in downtown Cairo. The Egyptian revolution was underway. Ash burned the sun-washed sky with the smoke of car tires and self-determination. The police had hemmed us in and all we could do was cover our faces until the tear gas dispersed. Graduate school was the last thing on my mind. I had studied the Middle East as an undergraduate at the George Washington University in Washington, DC but I never thought I would witness its history up close and personal.


When I returned from Egypt I knew that my love affair with the Middle East was not over; indeed I set my sights on pursuing a graduate degree in Security. Always partial to the road less taken, I looked for degree programs in Israel. I felt, as most people do, that studying security in Israel “makes sense.” Though I would never have guessed it on that revolutionary day in Egypt, in just a few short months I would be on the other side of the border, studying in the Tel Aviv University Master’s program in Security and Diplomacy


Now I am reaching the end of my first term. I am pleased with my experience thus far. Some of the highlights of the program include the professors and the level of instruction. Every Tuesday afternoon, Professor Asher Susser would weave the tale of the Arab-Israeli conflict as if we sat around a campfire. On Wednesdays, Professor Tamar Meisels, who also taught at Georgetown, would challenge us to debate issues such as torture and preemptive strikes. Additionally, the global makeup of the students in the program provides priceless exposure to other ideas, cultures and languages. It is a wonderful feeling to be learning as much outside the classroom as in it.


As this is a one year program, inevitably time will slip through my fingers like Mediterranean sand and I will find myself on the precipice of the “real world”. I plan to stay within my field and work for a think tank in Washington, DC, hopefully focusing on nuclear issues. True, daily headlines the world over continue to bring depressing economic news. Yet thanks to my experience here I will have weapons in my arsenal to use in the attack against the impossible job hunt.

Erica Mandell

Communications Associate

Women in International Security Israel


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