by Miranda Wall-Franklin, Tel Aviv University International MA in Conflict Resolution & Mediation

Graduate school is like a roller coaster. ​You get on, it starts slow, and then it gradually accelerates until you’re on a high-speed ride and cannot get off until it ends. Lately, school has been intense. I had my first final exam yesterday (whoo!), two papers due next week, and one final exam to study for. After next week, I will have a final paper due every week for the next month. In addition to my school work, I am doing some extra curricular activities.

I’m happily surprised by how easily and quickly things happen here. One of my goals for coming to Israel was to work with children in an empathy-building capacity. Just three months later, I have an internship with Debate for Peace and will be starting a volunteer project with Elifelet shortly. Elifelet is an Israeli nonprofit focused on helping refugee children in the country. I will go to an under-staffed refugee day care center once a week in order to be a consistent caregiver for at least one 2-3 year old child. It’s a cause I think is super important and I’m so excited to get started.

Another one of my goals was to work in the lab of Nurit Shnabel, a social psychology professor at Tel Aviv University whose research I admire. Just a couple weeks after reaching out to her, I am helping two of her PhD candidates with a research project.

I was also accepted into a conference called VHacks held in Rome. It brings students with technology backgrounds and students with social change initiatives together. Very exciting!

Oh, and I am also on two committees at TAU: International Senate, which brings together representatives from every international program to suggest activities for the student union and our Madrichim (ambassadors to everything non-academic in Israel), and Interdisciplinary Committee, where we plan speakers and events related to conflict resolution for our fellow classmates.

As you can see, I’m doing a lot, not to mention my classes. Moreover, I love everything I do. I love the act of learning almost anything. The problem is there is never enough time in the day. My New Year’s resolution for 2018 is simplicity. I believe you do more meaningful work when you do less. The problem is then, how do I do less? The best answer I’ve been able to come up with is to pick one thing – the thing – you want to focus on. But then what is the thing?

I’ve been pondering this for awhile. I knew I was unhappy working in entertainment so I went to grad school, in part because I thought it would help to clarify what I want to do in life. In some ways it has. I know eventually I want to become a US Diplomat. But in other ways it has made the future even more obscure. Before I join the State Department, I want to spend more time learning. I have a strong interest in social psychology and I thought that I wanted to get a PhD after my Masters. But now I’m not so sure. I’m surprisingly loving my international law and political science classes. And academia is seeming repetitious to me. Occasionally there are new findings, but for the most part, people respond to and expand on other people’s research. When there are new findings, what does that do? Do the findings translate beyond the academic community into actions that affect everyday people? This is an area that needs further research.

Meanwhile, I have a theory of my own that I developed whilst figuring out what I want to do in life: our ideal career is dependent on our values and our function in the world.

Hypothesis1 (v): Values in line with job correlates with ideal career; β1 > 0

Hypothesis2 (f): Function in the world in line with job correlates with ideal career; β2 > 0

Here’s the statistical formula:

Y = β0 + βvDv + βfDf + ε

My values are doing something that I consider ethically sound, has some positive influence on people’s lives, and that still enables me to live a comfortable life with a decent paycheck. In terms of function in the world, I feel most driven to take an active, getting things done role.

The other night I woke up groggily after a long night of my brain working really hard. The first coherent thought was, “I should go to law school.” This came as a shock to me. Not that I’ve never considered it, but that I’ve never wanted to be a lawyer. It sounds strange since who wouldn’t? But I don’t particularly like the idea of practicing law. I’ve worked with lawyers and the bulk of what they did seemed boring. However, it is in line with my values and function in the world. Additionally, I love the conceptual study of law and value the tools you gain from law school. I also love the negotiating aspect that many lawyers practice. So if I could go to law school and specify in negotiation and international law, I think I would be happy. However, since I have not yet proven my hypotheses above, I cannot be sure. I will let you know in 10 years or so when I have the results.

I want to take the time to acknowledge how lucky I am to have the dilemma of “what do I want to do in life?” Many people do not have this choice.

Here’s to an uncertain and exciting year ahead.

Highlights from this year so far:

(Broshim dorm cat lounging in the community room)

(Yarkon River)

(The Mediterranean during a break from the rain)

Read more in Miranda’s blog A Year In Israel 

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