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I have fallen in love twice with this country. When I saw the photos of Jerusalem in a friend’s Facebook page around five years ago, I was impressed by the beauty of Israel.

Sights at Tel Aviv
Sights at Tel Aviv.

When I arrived in Tel Aviv, I knew I was on the right track to start a new adventure. The place, alone, was beautiful. There were date trees standing below the blue sky and old buildings as well, which made me feel closer to the city’s history. It also made me feel like I was in a romantic movie.

In the end, I was not disappointed at all, and in fact, everything went beyond my expectations.

As far as first impressions went, I could easily tell how confident Israelis were, and this drew me to them, which was easy because they were good-looking, warm (they spoke English well too) and they really loved for their families. I saw this in the parents with their children and dogs and in speakers in school talking fondly about their family, children and friends.

Life in Israel

I learned so much during my stay here, and I will never forget them. During my orientation at Tel Aviv University, there was a workshop led by two actors, who helped us break the ice by saying “Yes and” and being the first to have the courage to start a conversation and make friends.  “Yes and” means listening to others, caring about what they say and keeping the conversation and story going, which entails remaining open-minded, getting inspiration from others and cooperating and being innovative in a changing environment.

Life in Israel 2

My classmates, meanwhile, were from different parts of the world. They were so passionate and independent that I was deeply touched by their love for Israel and their willingness to start a new life there. Deep down, I was curious about what made them do so and discover what made Israel special.

I might not have been there long, but I love this country – for its natural landscapes, city, history, culture and the wisdom that goes with building the country and making it rich and prosperous. It’s hard to imagine it’s a young country, given its beauty and diversity, but I know I have still plenty to learn despite having stayed here for a year. I’m sure to pick up some more interesting lessons along the way and I hope that in return, I can give back something to this place so I will always stay connected to it.

About the author – Xiao Shuang Zhao

Viviane Zhao

Xiao Shuang Zhao is a 29-year-old student with an IMBA major at Tel Aviv University. She is hoping to help high-end jewelry company Dehres develop their business in China. She will be graduating in 2016.