Thursday, February 23, 2012

Questions to the Lebanese expats

When you left your home country, Lebanon in particular, did you know you were leaving for good? Did you think you were just leaving for a short while? How did you feel exactly prior to that? And how did you feel after you left? Lebnen a7la balad? What do you miss exactly? And how do you cope? Do you want to come back? What would it take for you to come back?

85 comments:

  1. I always had the feeling I was leaving for good. I lived for 23 years there before I got the opportunity to leave, and I never looked back twice. I always wanted to get out, mostly for the fact that I always felt I was in some kind of a prison, where no matter how ambitious you are, the place would always find a way to crush you.

    I have been away for almost 10 years now, and I still remember how it felt when I boarded that plane. There was a weird sadness that was mixed with optimism. It takes you a while to get accustomed to, but deep within there is always a feeling that you do not belong. Ironically, I had this feeling when I lived back in Lebanon.

    You get nostalgic, especially if most of your friends are still there. The emotional value of the places that you used to go to increases exponentially, and you start looking forward for the day you will go there for a vacation.

    And then you go there, and that bright image of Lebanon that you developed while away starts fading and it gets replaced by the harsh reality: time stopped in Lebanon and nothing has ever changed. Sure, some new shops opened, others closed, but Lebanon, the people and the overall feel is still there.

    You start missing your daily life abroad, the one that you made for yourself, along with what your "new home" has given you. That stability and security, that sense of comfort that you were not able to get at your home country and still can't. You feel sad for being out of place, both in Lebanon and abroad.

    But then again, you decide to go to a different destination for that short vacation that you get, and see that other countries are beautiful, other countries are green, other countries have a dynamic nightlife, and you realize that Lebanon is not unique in what it tries to advertise.

    Only one thing makes Lebanon special, and that being your country of origin, your nostalgic memories of how your house smells like when your mom bakes that delicious cake or the smell of the first time it rains, those people who still remember you when you pass by their shops, your old possessions that are left untouched in your room, the pure Lebanese food experience, the scenery that you grew up around. Lebanon is just beautiful because it holds beautiful memories.

    I don't think I will ever go back there. Lebanon never offered me anything, and I don't think it will ever do as I lost hope that it will ever change.

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    1. Your comment = goosebumps...

      Speechless. Thanks for this, and for commenting for the first.

      Delete
    2. Seriously was getting goosebumps while reading your comment as I relate to this.
      Allow me to highlight some of the things you said:

      "Only one thing makes Lebanon special..your nostalgic memories of how your house smells like when your mom bakes that delicious cake or the smell of the first time it rains.."

      "Lebanon never offered me anything, and I don't think it will ever do as I lost hope that it will ever change."

      Perfectly said.

      Delete
    3. I was born in Sydney Australia. Both my parents left Lebanon to come to Australia. I've travelled to various countries (U.S., New Zealand, Tahiti, Caribbean, Morocco, Bali) and for some reason never had an attraction to see Lebanon. However 3 years ago the attraction arose. It was triggered by meeting a newly arrived Lebanese into the country. The person was so different to what was here - beautiful, warm, friendly, fun, energetic, charming, full of life. I couldn't help but wish they don't lose all that 'beauty' as they get into life here. That's what happens to every new Lebanese that comes here - they became stale, worn, money focussed, working non stop and mostly unhappy.

      So I took my first trip to Lebanon not knowing what to expect. I went on my own as I wanted to discover it myself. I purchased the Lonely Planet guide on Lebanon beforehand and loved reading it. I felt I was on an adventure!

      As soon as I set foot in Lebanon from the airport and the ride to the hotel I felt I was in a most 'magical' place. The atmosphere captivated me like nowhere else I'd been. It was night when I arrived. When I awoke in the morning laying in bed I could hear people on the street speaking not english but Lebanese. I smiled like I'd never smiled before. You can't imagine how that thrilled me! All my life I've been hearing english everywhere I go. As I walked the streets of Beirut and seeing the people I was in ecstasy. I saw so much of myself in the people - the way they did things, their nature, the smiles, care, kindness, generosity, fun and friendliness. Yet by comparison materially so many of them have nothing. The ecstasy I experienced is that I never realised that all of my life I'd been lost and didn't know. For the first time I'd found Home. I wasn't born in Lebanon but I found my home. This feeling I never experienced in Australia, the place I was born, raised and educated. Lebanon changed me - it gave me a deep happiness which stays with me.

      I'm planning to live in Lebanon long term. I have met and known people from so many nationalities and there is no one like Lebanese.

      Material possessions are meagre compared to the feeling of being home and having sense of connection.

      Lebanon filled my heart. The people amaze me, they are more generous and loving and full of 'class' than those who are materially well off in the western world.

      I no longer bother to travel to other places.

      Life in Australia is all work and nothing else. People work 24 hours and its more difficult for couples who have children. Sure there's work and money, but the cost of living is high. Only a small percent of the population are on high enough earnings to enjoy life.

      I have faith in Lebanon - it will evolve as the new breed of Lebanese people grow in numbers. They will drive it forward.

      I'm not going to Lebanon just for myself. I'm also going to make a contribution. I'm happy to be seeing many of the 'new breed' already doing a lot of positive work there. The world is interconnected now and there's the ripple effect across the globe.

      I also understand that so many there are 'tired' from conditions and events.

      I worked for an Australian director of a steel/coal import/export company in Sydney. During his career he worked in Beirut. He says it was one of the best times of his life. Now I understand the meaning of his comment!

      Lebanon is amazing!

      Delete
    4. Dear Marguerite, how are you? I hope you are well! I have been to Lebanon twice and I can share in your experience! Life in the U.S. is not life, even though there are aspects of the mentality in Lebanon that upset me, such as the double standard with regard to expectations for women versus men. Nevertheless, overall, it is a healthier place to live and raise children for many reasons, most of all because of how important family is, and how social life is there.

      Delete
  2. did you know you were leaving for good? Of course! I didn't even care to which country I'm leaving, where I am is just because I wanted to leave Lebanon.
    Did you think you were just leaving for a short while? No, I always knew it will be for good.
    How did you feel exactly prior to that? That this is the chance I was waiting for. The best thing that ever happened to me...yet
    And how did you feel after you left? I felt that I achieved in 6 month, what it took me 5 years to do in Lebanon.
    Lebnen a7la balad? Why a7la balad? It is, if you only care about partying like there is no tomorrow, cause there is no tomorrow there...sadly.
    What do you miss exactly? Seriously... Jebne 7arra men 3end Bechara bi Antelias, that about it.
    And how do you cope? Coping very well, I'm happy where I am, won't stay for ever, but not coming back to Lebanon.
    Do you want to come back? Again...No!
    What would it take for you to come back? Nothing will make me go back, cause I realized that Lebanon will never be a country. A country is about citizens, we don't have citizens... don't get me started on that plz!

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    1. Bilal didn't post a comment, but I have a feeling you and him have a lot in common!

      Delete
    2. "Why a7la balad? It is, if you only care about partying like there is no tomorrow, cause there is no tomorrow there...sadly." lol sad but true

      And I can't believe I didn't mention food. I miss delicious food. Not necessarily Lebanese, but when I'm back home the food is SO much better.

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    3. Exactly Riham, as much as I'm sure I'll never come back, it is sad...

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  3. too many questions!
    when i left Lebanon to go to the US, I didn't know if i going for good or not. I went for college, but based on other family members, it looked like i was going for good. The US sucks, and I started appreciating more some of the things that I took for granted in Lebanon, and sometimes i started liking some things that actually anger other people. So i took the decision to come back and I did :)
    if you want more details, i'd be happy to talk more over an eclair from Gustav :P

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    1. That's blackmail!!!! You can't have a conversation with someone over Eclair, that's T.U.I. (Talking Under Influence).

      Delete
  4. I am not sure if there is one way to describe these things, because it's probably different for every person.
    I can remember wanting to leave for as long as I remembered. It wasn't that I hated my life in Lebanon, the two years before I left were the years I was able to be happy again and I was doing really well. So to take the decision to leave it all and start over from scratch somewhere else was not easy. I didn't think twice before taking the offer I had to leave, rejecting it was never a question, but it was still a huge step.

    The defining "leaving" moments for me weren't days before when suddenly everyone I knew remembered my existence and wanted to see me, it wasn't packing, and it wasn't trying to pack for a weather I'm not accustomed to. It was when I got to the airport, and the line was huge and I had to wait in it and barely had time to say bye to my family. It was also when I got on the plane and it was taking off. I had a "uh-oh, what the FUCK am I doing?" moment. I know this sounds too cliche but really that was a huge moment for me.

    The thing is, I do miss Lebanon, the life I had there and the way things were. But you never really go back to that, even when you're on vacation. I feel like I'm the same person, the country is still the same, my family and friends are the same, but something's different. I probably don't miss Lebanon, I just miss my life there at the time. That's why I kind of think I wouldn't move back, because when I go back, as great as it is, it isn't what I had been missing. That's why I find myself trying to recreate outings and things I used to enjoy doing, that can be as stupid as driving around in my car while listening to Elissa and drinking coffee (I don't care if people judge this, this is something I LOVE doing). I really can't put my finger on what's different, it just is.

    One thing I do miss though is probably one of the cultural aspects. The Irish are pretty much the nicest people alive, but when I moved here, I thought people were too blunt. I hate the focus on money. I miss speaking Arabic and using expressions that don't sound as amazing when you translate them. Things like that really.

    I don't know if this answers your question, but it's my rant about being here. To put it in simpler terms, after you learn to no longer plan your life around those 3 hours of power cuts, it's really hard to go back.

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    1. hehehe about the planning your life around those 2 hours of power cuts. In Metn it's 6 hours.

      I understand what you're saying. You do that even if you move city, or from one job to another, or from school to university. It's the same process, same attaining of maturity and learning.. it's moving on.

      Shta2te lal 3arabeh eh? hehe

      Delete
  5. Ok im gonna stop reading others posts.. It's making me sad... I want a country...

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  6. I left Lebanon when I was 26, and been abroad for a bit more than 5 years now. I'm not going to talk about my life before I left, you know my story.

    1. Did you know you were leaving for good?
    Not really, never thought of it, I was just happy to be leaving.

    2. Did you think you were just leaving for a short while?
    No, I knew that I was leaving, and that was all that mattered.

    3. How did you feel exactly prior to that?
    Change is always scary, my move to Dubai was the first travel of my life, I didn't know what to expect, but anything outside was better than my situation in Lebanon back then.

    4. And how did you feel after you left?
    Best thing I've ever done.

    5. Lebnen a7la balad?
    Hell no, people who say that haven't been abroad.

    6. What do you miss exactly?
    My parents, and Hamra.

    7. And how do you cope?
    I Skype with my parents every day, and some things in life are more important that going out every night.

    8. Do you want to come back?
    No.

    9. What would it take for you to come back?
    Never coming back.

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  7. So here's an interesting POV from me with a bit of 30 something, not sure what i want to do in my life, mixed heritage blah blah.

    Me: Lebanese dad, english mom, born in Lebanon, moved quite quickly to Khobar in Saudi for english speaking school, and to UK from about age 9 onwards. Started visiting Lebanon regularly in holidays from 2001 onwards

    Don't speak arabic really, but moved to Dubai in 2006 and have been hopping around the region ever since, with a 2 year stint in Lebanon 2008 - 2010

    Very interesting living in lebanon especially after Dubai and Qatar, No friends there really, no old memories, no real ties. My family is there. Found i was a very westernized woman in a strange place, lots of people found me not to fit in. Problem was i wasn't hanging out with the westerners, and was probably hanging out with a strange crowd of lebanese. Always felt a bit in no mans land

    Certainly it does have an effect on you its a strange lure, you love and hate the place at the same time. I had to leave in 2010 because business wise it just wasn't where it should be, all my contacts are in dubai. Infrastructure is better yada yada

    I find myself in a weird place now where i don't know what to do with my life. I have had a long term tumultuous relationship with a lebanese man, who i managed to get over to dubai for 7 months but he didnt' like it and went back. I am over 30, not sure if i want to get married, been hopping around most of my life, the question of moving back to lebanon both scares the crap out of me and is quite alluring in a stable kind of way all at the same time

    I know i don't want to spend the rest of my life in Dubai. I feel like i am approaching doing my own thing, and again, in a way Lebanon is attractive for that because i see so many young people doing it and there is an energy there and i want to be around them

    I can't imagine going back to england because i would essentially be starting from scratch.

    I feel like i'm going backwards in a way going back to lebanon and yet at the same time, i feel like i have a duty to be there and to try try try do my own thing and support others and join with others.

    I am different really from a lot of people because i never grew up and spent years in lebanon. I want to go back to infuse an element of something. of change perhaps. I dont' like it when people try abroad and they just come back out of laziness. I think people need to come back and bring that knowledge with them and transfer it to others. On the other hand i want to go back because i might seriously consider settling down once and for all and that will obviously be based on my partners life which has been nearly 100% in lebanon.

    I worry that when i come back , there will be this stagnation effect, sometimes you can spend years in lebanon and nothing really changes because there isn't this changing demographic or new ideas and growth. And its so small! Too small.

    Really the first comment by Azmi is very much how i feel, although i only spent 2 years there, not 23. Thats another strange effect of lebanon. How can we feel the same thing when our experiences of it are so different.

    Now that we are all a little bit globalized, its becoming harder and harder to find a place to call home.

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    1. The point you raised here, about becoming more globalized, and making it harder to find a place to call home... what I feel like is (and as they say, home is where the heart is) the following:
      Many countries feel like home because of the people we care about.

      I also like the point where you said coming back to make a change and bring what you learned abroad to apply it here, I guess mostly in starting a business and creating job opportunities.

      The stagnant feeling... that I agree with.. Leb could suck all your energy. So be careful

      Delete
  8. The day it was confirmed that I was leaving, I knew I wouldn't be coming back anytime soon. I was purposefully applying for jobs abroad to avoid having to work in Lebanon. Reality hit me when I got my visa stamped and it wasn't very easy, I admit that. It took me around two to three months after leaving to completely adjust and I never looked back; soon after I left, the July war took place, and that was a good reason to rid me of any sentimental bond I had with the country—because "Lebnen a7la balad" wasn't working anymore. At some point in my life, and because of schedules, I was able to be in Lebanon every [other] weekend, without the burden of being based there, I think that helped a lot in not missing a lot of things, except friends, but I do visit occasionally on 'micro-visits' and manage to see most of the people I care about. I would never consider going back, not in any foreseeable future. I do not fantasize about going back, not even entertain the idea of that. I have lost the conditioning we all got during our life in Lebanon—of romanticizing the country. Maybe it's because I wear my labels/identity loose, maybe it's because I'm a nomad at heart, but home to me has been wherever my laundry is done. It keeps me sane.

    Lebanon contributed to a lot of who I am now, and how I perceive myself and the world, but also a lot of the hard work has been done by myself; being away, having to deal with a more real, bigger world that's not revolving around geopolitics or "incidents." I still like the place, it's where I was born and brought up and where a lot of my memories are based (good and bad), but that's it really, we grow out of things, things stop making sense, or we gain more insight—it takes a lot of silence to figure those out, but they are out there.

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    1. You still get your dose of Lebanon every other weekend :)

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  9. Before I left, I remember praying the result of the medical exam show cancer or some awful disease so I would be refused the entry to Canada. The day we left, March 27, 1987, at Port Jounieh at 9 pm is still imprinted in my mind in all its details. I still get sick every time I think ab out it or remember it. I remember the Cyprus stop, how I would walk on the sea shore singing "rouddani ila biladi". Once we reached Canada, I was lost with all the family members who welcomed us. Too many of them they were. It was great seeing them all and meeting the ones I met for the first time, but my mind and heart was never fully in Canada. I remember my heart aching and crying although maybe it didn't show on the outside.

    In my mind, I was giving Canada a 5 year chance before I go back home to my beloved Zouk and all the friends I had to leave behind, the date on the letters was always the days away from Lebanon. I was 18 and had to change everything and start from scartch. I hated my parents so hard for so long and blamed them for ruining my life, for me having to live on the fast lane, between school and work to make ends meet for all of us.

    My only enjoyment was joining the choir at Mar Maroun church - of course LEBANESE! and working on the parties we used to prepare, going back home at 6 am when the buses work again :)

    I missed the great weather, the ease and closeness of everything, the friendly neighbours, the honest friends, the church choir and other activities. I was depressed the most every Easter because this season is Holy and you feel it and live it to the fullest in Lebanon but not elsewhere. I missed summer and the beach; oh how I missed mountains and valleys, the smell of spring, the picnics we used to have. I even missed the neighbours gathering when the bombs were raining on us.

    I coped the best way I could, with lots of ups and downs. Visited Lebanon 4 times and France 3 times. My fun was driving the highways between major cities and crossing to USA. The highway with Ziad Rahbani's theater were like a therapy for my loss of belonging.

    I had a few boyfriends but none of them was serious for the simple reason that they had no intention of ever coming back to Lebanon :)

    I always wanted to come back but never knew how and when. Then when I found that this was a dead end road, I started looking into moving to UAE, then I will be steps away from home. When I finally visited the UAE to check it up close and personal, and here I wish to thank AM who received me and opened her house for me. Then we made a quick trip to Lebanon together, where I found a new interest. Went back home, worked on that interest until he proposed and this is how my 21 years immigration finally ended.

    I have been back home 4 years now (Feb 29, 2008), got married, had a girl. Worked a couple jobs and now living happily at home, the same house I was raised in ( to my luck and as an added reward).

    Lebanon is clearly not the same Lebanon I left in 1987, but this is where I belong, this is MINE and no one can ever take it back from me, ever again, so help me GOD!

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  10. I will use Bilal's format and reply.
    I left Beirut when I was 25. It wasnt Dubai at the beginning, but I ended up here since it was by far the best option.

    1. Did you know you were leaving for good?
    It was not the case, but year after year Dubai is becoming like home; I still have my connections in Beirut but I maintain them through regular short visits.

    2. Did you think you were just leaving for a short while?
    No. I knew it will be 5 years as a start and here I am.

    3. How did you feel exactly prior to that?
    I was sad leaving everything behind and beginning my first personal journey in a completely strange country.

    4. And how did you feel after you left?
    I cant hide that I was always nostalgic to go back but with time, it normalized.

    5. Lebnen a7la balad?
    WAS, in the 60s and early 70s. That is not a statement anymore.

    6. What do you miss exactly?
    My parents, relatives, and village.

    7. And how do you cope?
    I visit regularly to reconnect with my friends & see my parents and relatives.

    8. Do you want to come back?
    Not for good.

    9. What would it take for you to come back?
    I cant see this coming during my lifetime.

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    1. It's scary to see how sure most of you are of never wanting to come back and that nothing would bring you back for good.

      Thanks for your comment :)

      Delete
    2. "It's scary to see how sure most of you are of never wanting to come back and that nothing would bring you back for good."

      Lilo imagine this, since you were a kid all you had was a 15-inch black and white TV, but than you move to a new house that has a 41-inch LED TV, would you ever go back watching that old TV knowing that it was crap?

      Delete
    3. Good analogy there Bilal, but with no intention to criticize, allow me to add some description to the scenario you described.

      What if the old TV you had, you got to enjoy with a bunch of family and friends, people who actually made the show wroth watching, while the new TV you have to watch on your own or maybe with a bunch of strangers...

      Delete
  11. I was an expat but I'll reply =D
    * Did you know you were leaving for good?
    Well I was 40 days old when we left so I don't know but my mother told her parents then that she's never coming back.

    *Did you think you were just leaving for a short while?
    As I grew up..I knew it wasn't going to be a short period but we always had this undetermined "going back" date in mind.

    * How did you feel exactly prior to that?
    I was 40 days old =)

    * And how did you feel after you left?
    =D

    Lebnen a7la balad?
    No!

    * What do you miss exactly?
    I missed family the most, that sense of being "home". My parents made sure we were still connected to our relatives. We used to come here every summer for at least 2 months. We cried every time we had to leave again.

    * And how do you cope?
    It wasn't difficult, I grew up in Tunisia(1st 5 years) and Egypt(13 years) so it wasn't THAT different. I didn't know anything else.

    *Do you want to come back?
    We always had this need to come back. I don't know how my parents did it but it was strange.

    * What would it take for you to come back?
    I actually don't know how to answer this. My sisters and I practically knew nothing about the country(it was a vacation destination to us). But my parents knew what's the deal, and still they had always wanted to come back(and did) and managed somehow to plant this idea in our minds since we were babies. We also don't regret coming back despite the fact that we were way better off back there. I'm not being a patriot here but it's just how it happened.

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    1. Your experience is pretty much different :) you left when you were a baby. Maybe you should pass these questions to your parents :)

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  12. Hi Lili, here are my answers in a few words.

    nb: Not a fan of long answers and ‘how did you feel’ questions. Sorry.

    Questions:
    1. Q: When you left your home country, Lebanon in particular, did you know you were leaving for good?
    A: Sure I did. I decided to leave Lebanon for my own good. I have plans and goals I want to achieve by 2025 and Lebanon definitely is not a stage for that.

    2. Q: Did you think you were just leaving for a short while?
    A: I tend to plan my life for years. I knew that I would be leaving Lebanon for at least 15 years.

    3. Q: How did you feel exactly prior to that?
    A: Awesome

    4. Q: And how did you feel after you left?
    A: Awesome

    5. Q: Lebnen a7la balad?
    A: iza badde kazzib 3a 7ele, eh a7la balad.

    6. Q: What do you miss exactly?
    A: Family, Friends and my dog.

    7. Q: And how do you cope?
    A: I visit Lebanon once every year, so I get to see them again.

    8. Q: Do you want to come back?
    A: Do Lebanese politicians (mofos) want me back?

    9. Q: What would it take for you to come back?
    A: Achievement of my goals by 2025 and IF my future wife is Lebanese in the first place.

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    1. Wow, aren't you the most planning ahead and certain person I have ever met! My longest planning was maybe a month ahead O.o

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  13. Jump and the net forms in front of you. You don't need surveys or anyone else's opinion. Form your own and let it truly be your own.
    Good luck with everything Lilo.

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  14. Also stealing Bilal's format

    I moved to Dubai a year and a half ago and it was the best thing I ever did.

    1. Did you know you were leaving for good?
    I planned to move 4 years before I actually did. When I first visited Dubai in 2007 I decided I wanted to live here. I moved in 2010 by convincing my boss we should have an office here. So yes, I knew it was all planned

    2. Did you think you were just leaving for a short while?
    It was a long term thing, a one way ticket if you want

    3. How did you feel exactly prior to that?
    I was excited then worried then excited again with a pinch of sadness for leaving behind friends, family and all that is familiar

    4. And how did you feel after you left?
    It's stressful at start, but once I got settled in, it felt like home.
    I have a whole blog post about it :) http://kaykayyy.blogspot.com/2011/07/no-writers-block-in-this-blog-7-stages.html

    5. Lebnen a7la balad?
    ahla bi shou exactly? insecurity? chaos? instability?

    6. What do you miss exactly?
    My parents and the smell of Manouche in the morning

    7. And how do you cope?
    I talk to my parents on a weekly basis, they travel here and I go there.... God bless technology and social media :)

    8. Do you want to come back?
    No.

    9. What would it take for you to come back?
    I can't imagine myself working in Lebanon ever

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    1. Oh yeah! I remember that post :D and you do know you're the reason I ever visited Dubai in the first place, right? :D

      Delete
  15. I should have patented my replying format, I could have made millions!

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  16. Sorry Bilal, mine is different. I added Q and As.

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  17. When I left Lebanon for the U.S. I thought I was leaving for college, and that I would go back. Over a decade later, I am still here. Life progressed as it should - Family, career, settling in. Nobody can complain about all that; But I can't shake the feeling that I lost something I never agreed to lose.

    When I feel my fluency in Arabic is declining to the point that saro ya3fo l3alam inneh 'Jeye min Amerka' and my kids will grow up not knowing the things I knew I start thinking I have to go back.

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    1. Yeah, I used to think "forgetting your Arabic" is a myth... but now I understand that it's very possible if an expat lives in an area that doesn't have many Lebanese living there, you tend to eventually have English become your reflex and Arabic the language you need to "think" about in order to express yourself.

      As most of them said, Social Media and Skype... help a lot :)

      Delete
  18. LILO! due to a word limit in the comment section, I just published a reply to your question on my blog:

    http://computeraidedelirium.blogspot.com/2012/02/on-being-expat.html

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    1. I loved this sentence

      "You tamper with your appearance when you have an inner "mal-etre"."

      Thanks ML for your post / comment

      Delete
  19. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095765/ I have a feeling you'll like this movie, it touches on the subject in discussion.

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    1. I've heard that this movie is great, added to my list. Thanks :)

      Delete
  20. I'll steal the format too ;)

    1. Did you know you were leaving for good?
    I always wanted to leave bt when the moment came it was scary

    2. Did you think you were just leaving for a short while?
    no

    3. How did you feel exactly prior to that?
    Excited and scared of the unknown

    4. And how did you feel after you left?
    This video says it all http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEtApVu_xkg (written in 2007) everything changed now...


    5. Lebnen a7la balad?
    if we only consider "family"...kel balad a7la balad!

    6. What do you miss exactly?
    My family and Jbeil

    7. And how do you cope?
    Thanks to social media and skype!

    8. Do you want to come back?
    No

    9. What would it take for you to come back?
    I don't want to come back, i believe i serve my country more when i am abroad

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  21. These answers are fascinating, I think it would be interesting to know two things from all of you. First, how old were you when you left, how old are you now, writing your response? Second, to which country did you immigrate? Do you think the specific country can have an impact on your response?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I will try to tag everyone so they see your questions and respond to them :)

      Delete
    2. I left when I was 23 and now am 32. At first I lived in Kuwait and stayed there for 2 years before I moved to Saudi Arabia where I am still.

      And of course I think that the country can have an impact on the response. If you left for a place that is unwelcoming and and with a total difference in culture, the shock may be too hard for you to absorb and you will miss the familiarity even more.

      This brings me to another thing, which is the personality and character of the persons involved. So many friends have left with me, and many of them till day dream of coming back because they feel that no matter where they are, Lebanon will always be their destination. They are tying to build a strong base that will enable them to have a decent life there. As a friend of mine once put it, Lebanon is a place that asks you to make a jump over a ten feet wall, but does not provide you with the training or tools to do so, this is why we leave, so that we acquire them and come back.

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    3. I moved when I was 22 to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, stayed there for 5 years then moved to Dubai, UAE. I'm 28 now.

      Delete
    4. I left Lebanon when I was 26, now I'm 31.
      Been in Dubai for 5 years, and moving soon to Canada.

      Delete
    5. I left to france when i was 21, i've been here since 5 years

      Delete
  22. For example, immigrating to certain parts of Canada is a bit easier due to the large Lebanese communities

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    1. True but that's what I don't intend to do, I'm choosing areas in Canada that contain the least amount of Lebanese.

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    2. Because Canada is my home, and I want it to be my kids' home too. I don't want them to grow up in a place like Lebanon where sects and political parties control your future, where people get killed because of university elections, where people don't respect you and don't know the concept of a queue, where you can't get a good education unless you were rich, etc...

      To me, Lebanon has been taken off the map, I'm not in any way enforcing this decision on anyone else, it's a personal choice that my wife and I agree on.

      Delete
  23. 1- Did you know you were leaving for good? (No, and I know I am coming back, but do not know when)
    2- Did you think you were just leaving for a short while? (The plan was for 2 years, now I have been away for 7)
    3- How did you feel exactly prior to that? (Depressed by my situation in Lebanon, excited about a new adventure)
    4- How did you feel after you left? Lebnen a7la balad? (No, it is not a7la balad - I felt I finally met civilization and proper social and living standards)
    5- What do you miss exactly? (I miss family, and some memories)
    6- How do you cope? (Being away from Lebanon makes one cope fast with whatever country only if the heart is shutdown for a while)
    7- Do you want to come back? (Not sure at this stage, but I guess it will happen)
    8- What would it take for you to come back? (This needs a post by itself, as there are many things, starting with politics and living standards)

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    Replies
    1. Answer to question #6... akh. Crocodile mode on eh?

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  24. I felt bad not answering the question for a while.

    I am going to answer the questions directly now and then will write a bigger version.

    1-Yep I knew I was leaving for good. I couldn't stand living in Lebanon anymore.
    2-Nope as 1.
    3-The conditions of Leaving lebanon wasn't ideal. 3 weeks after july 2006 war ended and my aunt dying and here I am leaving my family. So was pretty hard actually.
    4-When I arrived to Edinburgh, I did not know what to expect. Now I am in Montreal and I feel Edinburgh is more home than Beirut.
    5-I cope very well, with skype I talk to my family often. no regrets about Leaving at all.
    7-NO! the time Lebanon needs to get acceptable will be beyond my potential living time.Not gonna bother, we only have 1 life, don't want to waste it in a place like that. If was still in Lebanon I would probably be still living with my parents, barely earning money, being stressed, pissed off, angry, etc. and I look older than I am. no thanks.
    8-All warlords to be put in jail, a secular country, religious leaders not allowed in any media, corruption to become at an acceptable level, people driving like humans not animals, laws changed for the 21st century not 15th, People to stop being shallow and retarded, public transportation, some damn green in beirut, less chaos, less noise, no fucking smoking in public, no security parameters for every damn warlord, no tribalism , patriotism, in other words...not in my lifetime.

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    Replies
    1. oups. 5 is 6.
      and I missed 5.
      5-Lebanon a7la balad? hahahaha yeah right. It's the biggest lie lebanese tell themselves.
      in what way? Nature? that we don't take care off? burning forests for coal, and destroying mountains for stones?
      People? don't be ridiculous. Shallowest people I ever met.
      Stability? HAH
      Safety? yeah right.
      Culture? what culture? it's disappearing and becoming materialistic gulfy.
      any other lie?
      Lebanon maybe a7la balad before I was born...
      Luckilly it is still preserved somehow. will go into that in details in a post.

      Delete
  25. My family and I emigrated to the United States from Lebanon when I was 8 years old. My family planned to leave Beirut for 5 years but its been 12 years and we only have recently started going back to visit only.

    I didn't want to leave at first because I still had family and friends and I guess I was young but it was definitely a blessing from God that we did, otherwise none of my siblings or I have gotten really far in life or have gotten a good college education.

    It's freaking difficult to get a good education in Lebanon, not unless you got the money, then your all good. And there's no opportunities for young adults like me.

    Sometimes I get home sick but when I do, I just try something new or go on a little adventure, it keeps that feeling at the back of my head. I have only visited Lebanon once after we emigrated and that was last December and I went alone.

    None of my older siblings have gone back to visit and are not thinking about to, they say there's nothing there for them. But I think it's important to know where you came from, where your roots are etc.

    Lebanon it self is a beautiful country but the government and sometimes the people there are too great. It's not a government to brag about. The thought of having a limited freedom of speech and expression makes me frustrated and angry because I had to like be a totally different person when I went to visit. There were things that I couldn't say or do and it was all just stupid. I don't see my self living there, ever but to visit, yes, for a short while.

    As much as I love Lebanon, the U.S is my home now. When ever I travel outside of Washington, I'm always eager to go back because that's where the heart is.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your input Anonymous :)

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    2. As far as education is concerned, I guess you got what you paid for. :)

      Delete
  26. Hi there,

    Just discovered this blog. I don't understand why you, Lebanese people, are leaving your country, a such beautiful country ? It's about the politics ? Should not give importance to these vile people there.

    I intend to visit Lebanon one day. Not the tourist circuits but to meet the people, to see the true ones that love their country. How are things going there if I want to settle in Lebanon ? Easy or not ?

    The more years go by, I fall in love with your country.

    Christian (Belgium)

    ReplyDelete
  27. @ Liliane

    Sorry, you are wrong. I'm simply a visitor who walks around the web and who discovered your blog today because I'm interested in Lebanon.

    Christian (Belgium)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Christian, well I am glad you're on my blog :)

      1- visit lebanonaggregator.com for more Lebanese blogs
      2- visit http://blog.funkyozzi.com/p/what-to-visit-in-lebanon.html if you ever visit Lebanon and want to check out cool places
      3- No one said they don't love what Lebanon is, but living here in terms of good lifestyle, good money, work opportunities, and growth opportunities, corruption, no order etc.. kind of makes it hard and some people choose to leave for various reasons :)

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    2. Hi Liliane,
      Your welcome to your blog makes me glad too. I checked lebanonaggregator.com. All that is interesting and especially useful for me because I intend to visit your country one day if I've the opportunity.
      Do not be so hard on the country, it's the same elsewhere. Frustrations that you have mentioned don't exist only in Lebanon. Here in Belgium we've too our frustrations. I believe in people, people's initiatives. Politicians are useless.

      I'll follow your blog and comment few of your entries.

      Maybe one day I'll see you in Beirut :)

      Christian (Belgium)

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    3. Go in Lebanon for a month, not in an hotel, in a regular family. With a place using a "moteur", in an area that have less than 12h of public electricity and where hot water is done by electric process (donno if some place use gaz, so ...)

      Do that in summer, or in winter.

      PS : get your evacuation paper in order, just in case, you know ? ... oh no wait ... you don't know.

      Delete
  28. I've lived in Kuwait most of my life except for the 2 months i was born and my AUB years from 2000-2005.

    No doubt college years were the best of my life. Those memories will never be forgotten, I also performed live concerts and I miss the music scene.

    However going back now is not easy especially after settling down; I no longer have fun spending vacations there. Most of my friends left and everything is so expensive and the service quality sucks. Lets not start talking political stabilty and lack of basic necessities (electricity etc).

    I really want to go back for good but its not yet the time to do so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment Ali. Sad to hear that you don't even enjoy vacations here, but it's understandable if almost everyone you know left.

      Delete
  29. I am going to steal Bilal's format to answer your questions.

    I left Lebanon when I was 21 and have been abroad since 2005 or for around 7 years now.

    1. Did you know you were leaving for good?
    I always knew I wanted to leave... I was raised and lived in Africa and when parents moved us back to Lebanon, I never felt I belonged and I never felt I understand the Lebanese people (I am not sure I do now, it is work in progress). I never planned it. I just happened to go for my MA.

    2. Did you think you were just leaving for a short while?
    Yes. I thought I'd be gone for a year or two for the duration of my MA. I ended up doing another MA and a PhD.

    3. How did you feel exactly prior to that?
    I was excited yet terrified of the unknown. London is a big city and can be overwhelming. I felt this strong desire to run away from London during the first few weeks, but then I fell in love with London...

    4. And how did you feel after you left?
    I am a changed person. And I don't have regrets. That's what matters.

    5. Lebnen a7la balad?
    Yes, akid.

    6. What do you miss exactly?
    My family, my friends, the neighbors, the Sea, the language...

    7. And how do you cope?
    I am in touch with friends and family through FB, twitter, whatsapp, skype, phone calls. Social technology has turned this world into one big city.

    8. Do you want to come back?
    Why not.

    9. What would it take for you to come back?
    I am looking to be found, and in being found, I am also looking to find something. What it is, I am not sure yet. But if this thing is in Lebanon, then I would come back. And I also believe in: "Never. Say. Never."

    Look, my father and my grandfather and my great grandfather are all rooted in this country that is known today as modern day Lebanon. So, never coming back here is quite a grave decision that I need to consider. For now, the option to come back to Lebanon is always open. To be honest, I never felt like I had left because I fly back and forth quite often.

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    1. You don't count :P since you keep coming for long periods and going back to London so... haha thanks for your feedback posh

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  30. I consider myself a mini-expat, since i only spent a duration shy of 1 year in France and I frankly can't wait to return. That said, I am also planning to settle for a couple of years in the States, which I look forward to.

    From one part, I find it beneficial to discover the world, because there's more to it than just our country. From my noob experience living alone for a year outside Lebanon, I find myself appreciative of the Lebanese experience and lifestyle. It's not only about food and nightlife, but the personality of the people, the sense of belonging whichever part I go to. Further, I discovered my attachment to my country like never before, a sense of patriotism that would ripe immense benefits on a macro scale.

    I look forward for my stay in the States because sadly it offers more opportunities than Lebanon. But never would I think of settling outside my country because I find it unjust and plain treason of some sort to all our ancestors that shed their blood for what we're planning to give away on a silver plate.

    My plans won't change. I'm Lebanese, I'm going to settle in Lebanon, marry a Lebanese, and raise my kids in Lebanon. I can sum up the Western world by a land of plain transactions, shallowness, and atheism...and that's where my views differ.

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    Replies
    1. There is no treason in finding peace if your own country no longer appreciates you. Having said that, people have shed blood in the states as well and anywhere in this world, people died for their own country. No one is better than the other. Home is where the peace of mind is :)

      I look forward to hearing your feedback when you're back in Lebanon and when you leave to the states and your experience there.

      Delete
  31. Like all great travelers, I have seen more beers than I remember and remember more Irish bars then I care to.Flights to Toronto

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  32. Hello my name is Bob.

    I left Lebanon when I was 18 was living 15 years in Australia. I was missing Beirut like crazy till I decided to move back in 2009.
    I love it here and I would never ever live it is just great and home is a home .

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    Replies
    1. Wish you provided more details on why left, how it happened.

      Thanks for the feedback anyway :)

      Delete
  33. A few thoughts being an expat with Lebanese links-
    Once you become an expat you sort of like become homeless, a wanderer never fitting in completely anywhere.
    You'll constantly compare every aspect of both countries and each country will have positives and negatives.I miss the sense of family and joie de vivre in Lebanon.
    Everything closes in the evening and this is hard to deal with compared to the outdoor Lebanese life.
    Most of the Lebanese carry the country in their heart with them and find themselves searching out eveything Arabic/Lebanese where they settle.
    Not many make that final move back but the ones I know are happy they have done it.
    Be prepared for the weather in Ireland to really affect you at first the lack of sunlight and cold takes a long time to get used to but my Lebanese husband now loves the UK weather after years in the Gulf and Lebanon (as you get older its hard to cope with the heat and lack of electricity) which is one of the main issues in Lebanon.
    Enjoy ur time you'll make great friends as the Irish are very similar in their friendliness to the Arabs.

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    1. Already there :)

      I was always a dreamer, before coming to Ireland I became a realistic person. And I didn't expect less or more. Yes some days are hard, but most of them are just smooth, the electricity, the no traffic and the cool weather is a good thing. Yes, I know the worse is yet to come (weather wise), I am trying to prepare myself as much as I can, Leb winter is no picnic either.

      You're very right about searching for Arabic/Lebanese everywhere, I found a store that sells all things Arabic, and I felt home to say the least. It's not wrong to miss it, it's not wrong to leave it.

      But I don't feel homeless, honestly, the day I settle down, it will be home for me, wherever I am. And I will have 2 homes or 3 or 4 :) why not!

      Thanks for this comment.

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  34. Great questions. I left NYC and moved to Lebanon after my wedding. I cant say there is 1 thing I really love about this place. I am Lebanese and I was raised with the same traditions and backgrounds as everyone here, but seriously when I came here and was shocked. I already knew about the electricity cuts so I was prepared for that, but what I wasn't prepared for was the way people think here. How Lebanese people pretend they are so westernized (vs rest of the Arab world) when they are the most backwards people I have ever met. Since coming here I can't even say I am proud to be Lebanese, so I stick to saying I am Spaniard (I'm 50-50). People here need a reality check, and need to stop being so corrupt*. If it wasn't for my husband having a successful business here I would ask him to sell everything and leave. But things aren't that easy. Trust me the conversation comes up at least twice a month!! Stay in Ireland (tho I am most certain you would love Spain-so stop and visit!!) Wherever you are, you are better than here. =)

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    1. I hope you get to be where you want to be and if not, I hope Lebanon somehow feels like home to you. I know how hard it is to be somewhere you don't feel like you belong (even though you know so well). I did love spain, I passed by Madrid, Barcelona and Ibiza so far. I would love to live in Ibiza :P hehe. I wish the economy was better in Spain, I would have definitely tried to find a job there, it would've definitely been a perfect place to live in, especially that I will finally get to practice Spanish!

      Good luck NYC Anonymous :)

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