Life in Lebanon

1. Family- My roommates have become my family here and one of my favorite parts of the way we have decided to function is communal meals. 5 nights in a given week we get home cooked meals to sit down and enjoy with the whole Palace (thats the name we gave our apartment). Once a week, I buy food for all 5 of us, sometimes more in case we have guests and prepare and cook something for all 5 roommates. Its fun since you are only cooking once a week, you feel more free to spend the night in the kitchen. Our schedules are packed into roughly 60 hour weeks so cooking a good meal every night is not an option. The way we set it up makes it cheaper, fun and a way to hang out with each other. Everyone here grew up with different ways of doing dinner, but everyone grew up having dinner as a family so its fun to sit together, pray and thank God for all the wonderful things we have.

2. Church: I’ve been to a few churches and have one left to try out but I’m almost positive of a specific church I want to be at. We saw a baptism last week! It was so sweet to see people worship God in that way. The service is in all arabic so I have headphones to listen to in english. There is a girl’s home above it so we see them every week. I’m hoping this week to give the house mom a break and come help do their hair and pack their lunches for school in the morning.

3. Exercise: Well for one, we walk everywhere. This city is pretty small so there isn’t much need for a car for us. We do take a cervese to school which is kinda like a taxi but its only 2,000 LL which is basically 66 cents a person. I also go down to campus and work out on the track. I’m aloud to wear shorts there so I enjoy walking to campus, sometimes I’ll stay after I workout and just lay on the turf to tan, using my sweats that cover my legs on the way to the track as a pillow.

4. Weather: Its SO hot here. The first three weeks it was in the 80s everyday which sounds amazing when you can be at a pool or at the beach. Unfortunately I have to wear pants and t-shirts and I’m outside most of the day so I’m basically sweating the whole time. It dropped to 72 and I found myself saying its “getting colder” while wearing a zip up sweatshirt.. who am I kidding? Thats only bearable in the shade. This past week the humidity dropped because we’ve had thunder storms at night and students on campus were wearing boots and sweaters… I was like uh…. Praise the LORD its finally cold enough to wear a t-shirt without sweating all day. 🙂

5. Fashion: Speaking of clothing… there is a wide range of diversity here in clothing styles, and part of that is the religious modesty rules. There are women head to toe covered with only their eyes showing to girls wearing crop tops and high wasted jean shorts. The interesting thing is that most wear pants, and a good amount wear long sleeves on a regular basis. Also, EVERYONE has converse sneakers. Its the weirdest thing, like you know how everyone has tall brown boots in Minnesota in the fall? uhm, likewise, everyone here wears converse.

We do have American Eagle, H&M and Zara here. I’ve seen Claire’s, Victoria Secret and forever 21 but thats the jist of American shopping.

6. Classes: I go to language class right now 6 hours a week at a private institute and have scheduled 3 hours of Arabic homework. I’m in a beginner class with the others in our program and although I’ve taken a semester, I’m not advanced enough to be placed in a higher class so I do little things during class to help improve my reading while the others are learning the Alphabet. We take a Cervese to our school like I mentioned earlier but its only a 15 min car ride across town. I really love learning and have made friends on campus (the one down the street from where I live) by asking to be tutored. Living in this culture makes picking up language much easier because all of our friends like helping us learn. The main words I use are “yalla” come on lets go, “ya3nee” like/uhm/sure/whatever (the 3 is a throat gargle), “hela” now, “ma bariff” I don’t know, and “shukran” thank you (rolling the R). I know how to have a small intro conversation but I don’t practice it as much because everyone speaks english fluently.

7. Campus life: I hang out on campus pretty much every day. Its really similar feeling to Northwestern even though our campus here has 9000 undergrad. Tonight we are joining the astronomy club’s star gazing event in the mountains! I’m so excited to wear leggings, boots and my jacket!! My friend from Yemen invited me to go and she’s never experienced “Cold” before so I really hope there is snow because I want to photograph the joy on her face when she touches it for the first time.

8. Thirsty: Each week I attend a study on the Holy Spirit and its one of my favorite parts of the week because I always leave feeling really convicted, challenged and encouraged.

9. Weekends off: For the last 5 years I’ve worked weekends in the restaurant and so having weekends free is really new to me. Most students who’s families live in Lebanon go home for the whole weekend which means its just me and the other Americans. Last night we had a girl’s night and straightened Jackie’s hair which was super fun because its crazy curly and she never straightens it. We had midnight makeovers and took pictures and made homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese. We finished the night with baking cookies and slept in wayy too late.

Today we went to the track to run, took showers in the locker room so that we cut down on the water we pay for after we run out approximately every 5 days. We invited the guys over to watch Gilmore Girls and I’m blogging before getting ready to go into the mountains tonight. Next weekend we are going on a retreat into the mountains again like we did in september and then the following weekend we plan to host a Holloween party and spend saturday exploring the city.

Hope my top ten this week was enjoyable to learn about. More to come on life in Lebanon in the coming weeks.

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Weekend Up North

MY roommates and some friends went up north this weekend for an overnight. We loaded a bus which is more like a hotel shuttle, with all our stuff and a guitar and headed up into the mountains.

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The road up there was a bit frightening but we managed okay. The funny thing about the buses here is that they have foldable seats that look like arm rests that actually fold out into seats that block the isle. So cool.
You can move about as much as you want and the windows open enough for you to feel like you might fall out of them on the sharp turns of the overpass.

We chatted about some of their 6 week summer trips spent in Spain and Switzerland, played games like ninja, mafia and signs and then took a walk in the dark to see the stars and sat around with a guitar which was really refreshing for a night away from the hustle bustle of the city.

This morning we talked about the hope for things changing on our campuses this fall and how we all really want to take advantages of being a positive influence at our school. It was really sweet to see a freshman so passionate about making a difference at our school, something really exciting our friends haven’t seen happen; usually the upperclassmen are the ones to get excited about change. We had traditional lebanese food which was actually really good, except breakfast was kind of unexpected.

We processed how we’ve matured and changed in the last year over meals and while someone picked up the guitar, or played the keyboard. I got closer to some of the people I really just met and had a really awesome time getting to hear about their passions in life and where they’ve come from. The best part of it all (well, maybe) was that it was 60 degrees when we got off the bus and for me, that felt like home.

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Overall it was a really fun weekend getaway.