1. School Sweater Fashion Faux Pas
While most students abroad love to collect memorabilia pertaining to their alma mater, students in these two institutions will never wear anything stamped with bold letters or Phoenician triremes – at least, not outside the house. They will wear sweaters of other universities like Oxford, USC, NYU, AnyImpressiveSchoolWeKnowNothingAboutExceptForItsAcronym but AUB students will not wear AUB sweaters on campus and LAU students will not wear LAU sweaters on campus. There is one AUB student who was rumored to wear her AUB sweater around campus and then, upon graduation, wear it to LAU as well (burn). This student may, or may not, be me. Such a rebel.
Most students will flaunt a sticker on their new car, partly because they want to feel like it’s their car but also because they want everyone to know they go to the “best university in the country.” The sweater, on the other hand, is reserved for those foreign kids in the summer Arabic classes.
2. Spend All Day & Night in Hamra
After spending most of their daylight hours in classrooms, you would think that these students would want to get away from their campuses when it’s time to unwind. Nope. In the past few years, Hamra has been the destination topping the list when it comes to nights out. Uruguay St. in Downtown & the Gemmayzeh quarter are great but they’re a different atmosphere.
Hamra is comfortable. Hamra is eating Bliss House sandwiches outside your hazard-lights-a’blinking-diagonally-parked car. Hamra is having Dunkin coffee by Main Gate at 8pm. Hamra is going out in your sweatpants and tees without worrying about dress code or a bouncer with an allergy to Converse. Hamra is bumping into everyone you know and everyone you’re going to meet next semester. It’s like going to class but there’s beer and cigarettes.
3. Lunch Dilemma
The neighborhood is so condensed with cafes, fast food joints, restaurants and mini markets that students have to go through a process of elimination everyday when deciding on where to eat. At some point in their academic life, they will realize that eating greasy saj wraps daily is bad for the arteries and the salty flavor is not because their salt shaker cap goes loose occasionally. Those dudes by the round saj are not polar bears. Juicy. Students will also come to find that the process of elimination will become limited to a choice of 4 places max similar to how you alternate between the same 2 pairs of jeans from a pile of 12.
If at AUB, you will get sick of afternoons at Universal Snack as Laura Branigan’s Self Control plays and end up going to Kababji. Then you’ll be like “no, no tabbouli today” (how dare you) and go to Subway. And then you’ll go back to Universal. McDo/BK/Hardee’s are reserved for days when you feel like you need a hug in a hamburger or it’s raining. If at LAU, you would eat kaak everyday but switch it up sometimes by ditching a class and going to Roadster.
“Ma3leh, ma byekhod attendance w ktir 3a beleh fries and cheddar wlo! Bas honey mustard bella sour cream, bi nasih” *fails class*
Translation: “It’s okay, he doesn’t take attendance and I’m so craving Fries & Cheddar! But honey mustard, no sour cream, it’s fattening.”
4. Vote or Die
Because student elections is a condition for accreditation and because Lebanon is obsessed with spraying politics all over everything like it’s Baygon in the middle of mosquito season, these universities participate in yearly student elections where they are indirectly divided into two main camps and the I-swear-we’re-not-backed-by-anyone-we-just-lean-towards-a-side independents. Election week is all campaigning and phone calls from people you don’t even know followed by election day where you get harassed at the gates.
-“DID YOU VOTE?”
Elections proceed, some side wins and the outside world thinks it’s a big sign that the youth supports so-and-so and those elected do nothing productive all year due to “bureaucracy.” Yup, sounds like it’s a pretty accurate microcosm of the rest of the country.
Regardless of which university you claim as yours, you will miss it when it’s over.