Year Abroad: Week in the Life

(over 2 years ago)


11AM: Wake up. I spent the weekend in Istanbul and flew in late last night so only got to bed at 3am. I was supposed to have classes from 8AM today, but clearly those can wait.

12PM: The electricity goes off for 3 hours every day in Beirut. Some apartments have back up generators, however (being the thrifty student I am) I sacrificed power to save in rent - in hindsight this is very much negated by the amount I spend in bougie coffee shops waiting for my internet to return. In a pathetic bid to make up for the four hours of class I missed today I take a stroll through the neighbourhood and head to a cafe to study. I live in Mar Mikhael, an artsy/hipster suburb of Beirut, great for bars, nightlife and coffee.

6PM: Walk to the gym. I pay \$150 a month for gym membership (and that’s at a discount). In the developing world, some things I’d consider staples in the UK are seen as luxuries here. Hatfield gym may be small, but at least you don’t need to remortgage your soul to use it.

10PM: Spontaneous trip to the mountains with my (Lebanese) friend Alain. Definitely did not factor in his driving on my risk assessment..


6:47AM: Wake up. I have calculated that this is exactly the latest I can wake up and still make it to school ON TIME. Bribe myself out of bed with the promise of a soy cappuccino.

7:10AM: Cycle to school. I have acquired the most broken bike in Beirut from my housemate - this combined with Lebanon’s traffic and complete lack of road rules makes for a commute more chaotic than the hellish coffin of misery that is the Central line at 9AM.

7:30AM: Park bike and order my coffee from Caribou over the road, basically the ME version of Starbucks, and walk the rest of the way to school. My ritual coffee habits are transnational.

8AM - 10AM: I only have one dialect class today but it is the literal longest two hours of my life.

11AM: Another coffee in a bougie cafe in Mar Mikhael. Cuff me.

3PM: Mooch around the apartment aimlessly. Watch French news with French/Lebanese housemate. Understand nothing.


7PM: Boxing training. In a country where Muay Thai is as popular as hummus, I cannot tell you how difficult it was to find a coach.

10PM: Netflix in bed next to a pile of homework I promised I would get done today. Tomorrow is a new day.


6:30AM: Building work beats my alarm clock in the race to wake me up. New York is a city that never sleeps, but Beirut is a city that never shuts up.

7:30AM: Coffee. I am a creature of habit.

8AM: Hell (lol I mean school). Lessons all day today, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And by light I mean 6000LBP wine tonight.

12AM: Lunch time. I promise myself every day that I will make a pack lunch but never do. I would rather be broke than the kind of adult who makes a pack lunch because there is literally not one hint of excitement to be found in or around the pretentious world of Tupperware. 2000LBP Falafel from the falafel man (£1ish).

3PM: Walk home fending off taxi-driver beeps. Resist the temptation to buy another coffee.

4PM: Cup of tea whilst finishing off some homework at home. Lol that’s a lie, I actually don’t know how to turn on my stove yet. Lol another lie, I do know how to turn it on but I’m too scared because it requires me manually lighting the gas with a very small lighter. Americano from the man over the road.

6PM: Gym.

8:30PM: Wednesday night is Saifi Institute Quiz night and when I say that I breathe for cheap batata harras and budget wine I mean it. We come 3rd, but the wine is strong and the food is cheap so I feel like a winner all the same.


6:30AM: You know the drill.

8-11AM: Dialect class and my individual translation class. As much as I dislike a lot of things about my school in Lebanon, the fact that you have both group and individual classes is pretty good.

11AM - 3PM: This is the most frustrating day of the week. Trying to wile about 4 hours at the French Embassy (yes, I study Arabic at the French Embassy in Lebanon do not even get me started) without wifi is harder than actually learning Arabic. Meander over to ABC Mall, Beirut’s answer to Westfield. Decide to get a coffee and work on a translation.End up buying tickets to Romania. Why am I like this.

5PM: Finally home after my last class. Realise that my power is out. Realise that my phone is out of battery. Realise that the sun has already set and I now have to get ready in the dark with no hot water, get to the gym and then go out for dinner after. Sometimes I hate this country.

6PM: Quite literally run to the gym. Cry to my friends about the travesty that is my life, receive the typical response to my first world complaints: ‘Welcome to Lebanon’.

7PM: Finish my session and shower at the gym.

8PM: Still manage to make it to dinner. Somehow. Tomorrow is our last day before a week break from classes, so everyone from Durham studying in Beirut is meeting up for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant on the waterfront.

10:30PM: A few glasses of wine and bowls of hummus later, I’m finally home with functioning electricity. This country is exhausting.


10AM: Much needed lie-in. Go for a run along the Corniche (pretty waterfront pathway).

2-4PM: Modern Literature class (10/10) and Cultures and Civilisations class (2/10). Dance out of the classroom. TGIF.

5PM: Early gym session to maximise time dedicated to getting ‘turnt’ tonight.

9PM: My favourite thing about Beirut is that a bottle of Smirnoff vodka will cost you approximately £8. This, however, goes only a fraction of the way in offsetting the extortionate costs of Beirut clubs - on average you’re looking at \$25 entry (but the clubs are LIT).

10PM: Pres at my apartment.

2:30AM: Pass out on my bed. Do not make it to the club. Dignity lost, money saved.

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