Andrea Rosko - 2011 Program Participant

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I wanted to study abroad to enrich my academic and personal undergraduate experience through cultural and language immersion.

Why did you choose the American University of Beirut (AUB)?

I decided to apply for the AUB semester study abroad program to take advantage of the university's colloquial and modern standard Arabic courses as well as its partnership with my home institution, Syracuse University.

The ruins at Baalbek in Lebanon

The ruins at Baalbek

What was your favorite part about Beirut?

The city of Beirut is the most complex and unique city that I have ever visited. The immense and diverse density of different cultures, religions, and geography in such a small city and country was fascinating and fun.

What made your studies at AUB unique?

The program offered language courses in both colloquial arabic and modern standard Arabic, while also allowing for enrollment in a diverse and expansive set of social and political science courses.

How did local university staff support you throughout your program?

The professors and staff at AUB were immensely helpful. As many higher education institutions, in particular ones that you are unfamiliar with, AUB as an institution was difficult to navigate, however the staff and individual professors were open and available and willing to support students, both academically and in their navigation of the university and the city.

What surprised you most about Beirut?

I think what surprised me most about Beirut was how much there was to learn and see and do throughout the city.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I had taken advantage of the location and the linguistic opportunities sooner. If given a second opportunity, I would push myself harder to apply my language learning and would spend even more time exploring the country as a whole.

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

Communicating with the locals was easy, particularly in Beirut. Many people in Beirut and in Lebanon speak English and many of them are also willing and encouraging when you try out your Arabic skills.

Describe a day in the life of an international student at AUB.

Each day classes would begin relatively early, so after waking up I would head toward the main campus building, likely grabbing a coffee and a manousheh (traditional lebanese breakfast flatbread) along the way. After a few morning classes, I would usually walk just outside the campus gates with both local and international friends to grab food at one of the many affordable options on Bliss Street.

Then, I would either attend an afternoon class or head to one of AUB's many outdoor spaces to study with friends, typically either in the Green Oval or AUB Beach. In the evening I would meet up with friends at any of the numerous cafes or bars, or relax on a friends' balcony into the evening.

Weekends were full of exploration, visiting Beirut's different neighborhoods or traveling outside of the city to enjoy various historical sites, wineries, beaches or hiking and camping in the mountains.

Jounieh coastline in Beirut, Lebanon

The coast of Jounieh - view from a famous seafood restaurant

What did you enjoy doing on your free time?

Driving to Sour (Tire) on the weekends to visit the local public beach. Unlike many of the resorts in Beirut which have rock beaches and expensive entry fees, Sour's public beaches offered an expanse of soft sand and free entry.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

During my studies, I stayed in the all female AUB associated dormitory a few blocks away from AUB's main campus. The accommodations were beautiful and spacious and I got to share a double suite with a young Lebanese girl. Living in an AUB building was a relief for many reasons. Despite some restrictions on visitors and curfews, we had 24 hour water and electricity and many resources that friends living off campus did not have.

What was the hardest part about studying abroad in Beirut?

The hardest part about studying abroad for me was the initial transition. After I got through the first 72 hours and had time to meet people I was living and taking courses with, and after I developed a routine, that initial nervousness faded quickly!

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Lebanon?

I had studied abroad before and felt prepared to live in Lebanon, but I would recommend doing some research on the weather and on what you might like to do in your spare time, as that would dictate what kinds of things you might need to pack!

Ksara Vineyard in Beqaa Valley, Lebanon

A sunny afternoon at Ksara Vineyard

Do you have any packing tips for students headed to Beirut?

Beirut has a very moderate climate and a variety of different activities. You'll want to have with you a little bit of everything. Definitely check the weather for the months you'll be there, and don't forget a swimsuit and an umbrella just in case!

Now that you're home, how would much would you say your time abroad has impacted your life?

The program, and in particular the time I spent in Lebanon after the conclusion of the program, has shaped my career path and I believe helped my admittance into a competitive and well respected graduate institution.

There are so many benefits of study abroad. Going to Beirut transformed my life; I learned a lot about myself and about how to adapt to diverse and unique environments.

Would you recommend the American University of Beirut to other students?

I would definitely recommend AUB to other students. They have a wonderful array of coursework and skilled professors in a variety of subject areas. In addition, the campus is beautiful and surrounded by cafes and restaurants!

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I would go back to Lebanon in a heartbeat.