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Studying Abroad in Israel at Tel Aviv University

If you could go to college at the beach…wouldn’t you? Studying abroad is all about experiencing education in an exciting new environment, and one of the best places to do that is in the seaside city of Tel Aviv, Israel.

Tel Aviv is a city of cultural, artistic, and gastronomic diversity. Located on the Mediterranean sea and sporting a population of over 400,000 people, it’s hip, young, and vibrant both day and night.

Tel Aviv University or TAU is considered one of the best schools in Israel, and students who spend a semester studying abroad there have the opportunity to tap into the city’s culture and warm weather vibes.

When studying abroad at Tel Aviv University, students not only take a regular course load and receive full semester credit toward their degree back home, they also have the opportunity to fully immerse in the local Israeli culture, meet people from all walks of Israel’s vast and diverse population, and experience a meaningful semester abroad.

So why should students study abroad at Tel Aviv University, and what can they expect? Let’s jump right into it.

Why Should I Study Abroad in Tel Aviv?

Located in the center of Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv University gives you easy access to the various sites and activities that made the New York Times call the city “the Mediterranean Capital of Cool”. Here’s just a few reasons why students should study abroad in Tel Aviv:

  1. The Mediterranean waterfront and Tayelet (promenade) stretch 2 km from Tel Aviv to Jaffa, features ten miles of pristine shoreline and 16 beaches for every activity and lifestyle. Tel Aviv averages 300 days of sunshine every year. The University is so close to the beaches that students can, and do, surf every morning before class. Not that professors let them off the hook.

  2. Students have the opportunity to travel over the weekend to anywhere in Europe. We’ve gone ahead and itemized the best places to travel from Israel for under $300 in this article. You’re welcome.

  3. Known as the “White City”, Tel Aviv is home to over 4,000 inspired Bauhaus buildings. This is the greatest collection of Bauhaus Style Buildings in the World, leading it to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s hard to picture a better way to spend a warm spring day than taking a stroll past bright white buildings against a deep blue sky.

  4. Living in Tel Aviv gives students the opportunity to explore the incredible Street Art and Graffiti with geographic, cultural, political and artistic memes crawling up walls, buildings and narrow alleyways.

  5. Nightlife - Bars and nightclubs come alive at 10 pm and are some of the best in the Middle East.

  6. Culinary Markets spotlight the best of Israeli produce and cuisine as well as a veritable smorgasbord of international foods featuring the world’s hottest chefs.

Why Should I Study Abroad at Tel Aviv University?

Spending time in Tel Aviv is one thing; getting to learn on Tel Aviv University’s campus is even more exciting. Home to 30,000 Israeli students and 3,000 international students, Tel Aviv University’s 220 acre campus is an exciting place to spend a semester abroad.

A Brief History of Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University was not always this large. It was founded in the 1930’s, with just 24 students, and gradually grew with the vision and support of the Tel Aviv mayor at the time, and others. A history professor remembers the early days, when the University was located further south, “I will never forget how students who were later to become great professors sat on first graders’ chairs... I was quite sure then, that with students like these, the authorities wouldn’t be able to ignore us for too long.”

With tremendous effort and determination, a new campus was built and Tel Aviv University became official in 1965. The University quickly grew and expanded, and by the 1970’s had 12,000 students enrolled, and became internationally recognized due to its scientific achievements.

Today, according to their website, Tel Aviv University is “Israel's largest and most comprehensive institution of higher learning, with over 30,000 students studying across nine faculties, 29 schools and 98 departments.”

Coursework for Study Abroad Students at Tel Aviv University

Coursework for study abroad students at Tel Aviv University is rigorous, beginning with the month-long Ulpan (intensive/immersive Hebrew) required for all incoming students. We dive deeper into what that looks like in this post about Ulpan for study abroad students.

International Students take four academic courses taught in English, typically worth 3 credits each. Tel Aviv University taps into the Start Up Nation with an Entrepreneurship Program for business minded undergraduates, attracting many from Top US Ivy League schools.

Student Life and Housing on Tel Aviv University

Students have the option of living in various dorms or housing on and off campus, and get access to all the amenities available. Tel Aviv University also offers a robust Student Life, where students connect and explore various music concerts, film screenings, art exhibitions, poetry readings, and many other activities that are held on campus.

Thrive Study Abroad at Tel Aviv University

Thrive is a program available to a limited number of students each semester at Tel Aviv University. Thrive supplements the semester abroad course study with rich programming that heightens student’s awareness and engenders a love of Israel, its history and its people. Activities include:

  1. Building Community - Thrive at TAU helps students feel at home while they’re away from their own homes for the semester. Having the opportunity to visit families for Shabbat, make challah with them, and feel part of their families helps students to acclimate and gives them a sense of belonging. Thrive also has weekly dinners on campus with wide ranging discussions of current events, giving students the ability to discuss their impressions and concerns.

  1. Army Experience weekend - Students get to experience an in-depth, two-and-a-half day basic training regiment that pushes them physically and mentally. This heps bridge the gap and gives students the rare opportunity to experience what their Israeli counterparts must go through due to the country’s active military draft. While their physical limits may be reached, students find their minds exploding with questions that they have the opportunity to discuss with real Israeli soldiers who help to navigate the conflicts that come up.

  2. Start Up Nation - Thrive at TAU introduces students to key strategic leaders and innovators at some of Israel’s hottest start up companies. Thrive is also committed to matching students with internships and mentors in their field of interest, leading many students to a blossoming career path they would never have otherwise accessed.

  3. Political Perspectives - Thrive also takes students to the Knesset and other political locations throughout Israel, where students meet politicians and advocates for Israel, and have the unique opportunity to hear from the country’s leaders and decision makers. Due to the intimate group discussions that often ensue, students get to go head-to-head in debate and discovery with the decision makers who are shaping Israel’s policies.

Whether students are drawn to Tel Aviv for the balmy weather and the coast’s rolling waves, whether they come for the city’s alluring daytime culture or night time rhythm, spending a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University gives students a robust, all-encompassing cultural and academic experience. And because Thrive works directly with Tel Aviv University, students who join know that this semester of study abroad will stay with them the rest of their lives.

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