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Impressions of studying abroad: Lebanon

Grigory Saremo, 3rd year student of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs

This July my groupmates and I went on a study trip to Lebanon, and it turned out to be an extremely useful and meaningful experience for studying both Modern Standard Arabic and its dialects. We got a chance to plunge into the culture and everyday routine of ordinary Lebanese people. It became possible due to the fact that we lived not in a fashionable downtown hotel in Beirut, but in a regular village which was 40 km far from the capital. The small village was called El-Wardani and populated with friendly people who talked to us with a good grace, though they had a hard time recalling how to speak Modern Standard Arabic as we totally didn’t understand Lebanese Arabic at first.

In about one and a half weeks we got used to Lebanese Arabic and started not only understand but even speak it a little bit. Wonderful teachers from Dar As-Salam cultural center, where we studied and lived, helped us with this. We had classes with Mr. Said, his wife Mrs. Latifa and also Mr. Hasan, who is a professor at Lebanese University. They taught us about Arabic literature and the most challenging aspects of Arabic grammar. We also read texts by outstanding Lebanese wrtiers and, of course, learned how to speak Lebanese Arabic.

Besides, Mr. Said, the head of Dar As-salam, set up meetings with Lebanese writers for us, one of them was Emily Nasrallah, who is considered to be one of the most outstanding Lebanese writers. Moreover, Mr. Said showed us almost the entire country. While visiting beautiful and ancient cities of Sidon and Tyre we were charmed by authentic atmosphere of the Middle East. We have also been to Jounieh, Jubayl or Byblos, Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, Kadisha Valley and so on and so forth. Of course, we also visited Beirut – both with a group and on our own. It was veru exciting to walk the streets of this wonderful city trying to talk to local people and  eagerly reading advertising signs.

I can’t speak for others, but for me personally this study trip to Lebanon was extremely delightful. I literally fell in love with this country for its kind people, magnificent sceneries and, what is really important, wonderful cuisine. I will definetely come back there.