University students wanting to study abroad in the Middle East have long traveled to Egypt or Damascus, but more students today are choosing study abroad programs in Lebanon. It’s a country that has had its fair share of conflict and unrest, but has of late been experiencing peace, prosperity, and positive growth. The country’s capital, Beirut, is a dazzling and historic port city and commercial center — international travelers flock here to explore the significant cultural sights during the day, and when the sun goes down, some of the best nightlife on the continent.
Geography & Demographics
Located in the East Mediterranean, Lebanon is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south. Lebanon is a mountainous country with the Lebanon and the ante-Lebanon mountain chains that border the Bekaa Valley. These ranges create a moderate Mediterranean climate with winters that are cool and rainy, and summers that tend to be hot and humid.
Lebanon’s history includes many ethnic groups including Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Arabs, and French. All of these groups have contributed to Lebanon’s diverse populations and have helped form and develop the rich tapestry of the country.
Food & Culture
Lebanese people pride themselves on being hospitable. They cherish their time with friends and adore sharing meals. Visitors in Lebanon are very well received and treated like family. When studying abroad in Lebanon, don’t be surprised if someone invites you over for dinner shortly after you meet. It is considered an honor to have a guest in one’s home, and it portrays one of the Lebanese traditions of hospitality. After dinner your hosts might take you out to the souks, or markets, that are filled with people, shopping and spending time with friends.
Eating in Lebanon is a social event and is tied to family. If you are invited to a Lebanese house you will find a wide array of Mediterranean dishes including the staple food, pita bread, along with hummus and other well-seasoned, bean-based dishes.
Things to Do
Festivals. Lebanon plays host to a number of vivacious festivals each year; the most popular are the Byblos International Festival, Beiteddine International Festival, Batroun Festival, Broumana Festival, and Baalbeck International Festival. Lebanon hosts around 15 international concerts each year, which makes the country rank number 1 for nightlife in the Middle East and number 6 worldwide.
Ruins. Lebanon is home to Roman ruins, ancient cities, and dramatic caves. The Baalbek Roman ruins are considered to be one of the most important Roman sites in the world, and contains the divine Temple of Bacchus, Temple of Jupiter, and a chilling Sacrificial Courtyard. Visit the city of Sidon and explore what is left of the Crusader sea-castle. The Al-Bass Tyre Necropolis is a vast Phoenician cemetery that contains elaborate marble and stone sarcophagi from the Roman and Byzantine eras; nearby is the largest and best-preserved Roman hippodrome in the world.
Caves. Jeita Grotto, an under- and above-ground maze of caverns, stalagtites, and stalagmites, was nominated one of the New Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Its caverns are full of enormous minerals and monstrous stone flowers. Nachcharini is a cave and early Neolithic settlement near the Syrian border.
Studying in Lebanon
Several options are available for study abroad in Lebanon; a few of the more popular programs offered to international students are Peace Studies, Political Science, and Arabic. The American University in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, offers Western-style higher education to international students from around the world.
Most international students in Lebanon have the chance to develop an awareness of the Lebanese culture and heritage. If you’re looking for a language intensive Arabic program, Arabic Language Courses in North Africa and the Middle East offers courses to improve your skills and knowledge about the Arabic language and region. Their program is very flexible and participants can stay as long as they want.