Perhaps I’m the most shocked. It’s already been a full month since I joined the Lebanese expatriates club, yet that very short time has provided me with some unique insight on what being Lebanese abroad, and especially in Europe, means. So this list is dedicated to all those who have already left the country, are about to, or are thinking about it.
Just remember: There is no place like home
- Youtube becomes an effective procrastination tool because you never have to pause the video extensively to let it load
- Even if you avoided her music like the plague, once you live abroad, every morning will begin with a compilation of Fairouz’s best songs.
- Going to the supermarket becomes a quest for the greatest number of Middle Eastern/Lebanese food items you can possibly find.
- All your friends will ask you to cook for them even if you have not spent more than 2 hours of your whole life in your kitchen.
- Everyone wants you to teach them Arabic…
- But the only two words they will eventually catch onto are habibi and yalla
- You take on a new nickname: habibi
- Breaking rules? That is so Lebanon. Once you’re abroad, you will stand in line quietly, keep the music down after 11 PM and wait for the pedestrian light to turn green before crossing the road. (I highly recommend you watch the video, even if you don’t know Arabic)
- When people ask you why you can’t do such a primitive thing like ride a bike, you will loudly respond that coming from Beirut, you’d still get hit by a car when walking on the sidewalk, let alone riding a bike on the road.
- Every conversation begins, ends, and includes the words “I’m Lebanese, so…“
- Any event you host ends with dancing.
- You get offended when people make fun of the dabkeh even though back home, your relatives and friends have all made fun of you for your inability to follow the steps correctly.
- You enjoy meeting other Arabs but sometimes you really just want to converse in English because their dialect is so difficult for you to understand.
- You’re probably the loudest one in the conversation group and you don’t mind.
- Skyping with your family has to happen at least twice a day to be considered effective.
- Describing your country to people you’ve just met depends on how you happen to be feeling about it on that particular day.
- Reading the news becomes a daily habit, even when you avoided it when living in Lebanon.
- If you’re a 20-something and don’t usually use Arabic to communicate with others, you will begin to form an appreciation for it.
- The more you talk to people, the more you realize the “I’m always right” notion is false on so many levels, but would never want to admit it.
- You show people pictures of Lebanon and you start getting nostalgic, even though you hated these places before.
- Trying to break down other people’s preconceived notions is a difficult task, but you will do it anyways.
- You cannot wait to get back, but deep in your heart, you know being abroad is probably the best investment you’ve ever made.
This is just a brief list, so if you feel I should add anything to it, you know how to get to me!