Growing up Lebanese is one thing, but growing up Lebanese abroad is just something else. Culture clashes, a bit of frustration, a whole lot of humiliation, and a ton of mental pleading for a “normal” childhood is exactly what it is! Here are some highlights:

1. Being the hairiest kid in class.

Being a ten year old girl with hairy legs, arms, and a mustache was not fun, especially when my male peers were hairless and blonde. And forget about asking your Lebanese mother for a full body wax at the age of ten. My advice? A bleaching kit for that mustache, thigh high socks, and a long-ass jumper for that one blissful day of summer.

2. “Why does your dad call you baba?”

Lebanese parents are adorable, I know. What isn’t so cute though is trying to explain to a bunch of white kids why my dad calls me baba, and why mum calls me mama. *Gets funny looks from everyone* Damn it.

3. Having Lebanese food as a packed lunch before it became a thing.

I used to dread opening my packed lunch as I knew full well my mother had wrapped me a nice “3arous” while everyone else had ham and cheese in standard old English bread. Oh how I used to wonder why I wasn’t normal like the other kids. Irony is, 10 years later, my Lebanese packed lunches are now a “thing” (the world's new obsession with pita bread and hummus). Thanks world, you’re only a decade too late!

4. “Sorry, I have to be home at 6 PM.”

“It’s cool! Just tell your parents you’ll be home at 10!”. No, 6 PM was pushing it. There’s no point even trying to explain why to your friends, Lebanese parents will be Lebanese parents whether in Beirut, or half way across the globe!

5. The culture clash was heartbreaking…

This point is perhaps the most difficult aspect of growing up abroad; adapting to both cultures, and boy did I adapt the hard way! Tomorrow in English literally means the following day. However, tomorrow in Lebanese means anytime from the following day up till about thirty years. Did your father promise you a bike tomorrow? Or your mother promise you can go swimming boukra? Think again!

6. RIP Beautiful Arab name.

If only I had a pound for every time my name was pronounced incorrectly, “It’s Mira…not Maaaayyra.” If you think that was bad, try my middle name, “Khoury”. It was crucified so many times that it was eventually diminished to “curry”. Charbel becomes “shar-belle” and Ahmad becomes “Ak-med” or “Ahhhhhhh-med”. However, if you’re a Mohammed you don’t even get the courtesy of a full name - “Mo” is simply easier.

7. Upside: acing french!

This was awesome - A’s all round! Why? Because half our language is French! French class was more than just a class, it was an hour of self-discovery and realisation. Has my whole life been a lie? What do you mean “ca va” isn’t Lebanese?

8. All your friends going on glamorous holidays around the world, and your only choice was Lebanon.

Hawaii? More like the day3a? It sounds tragic, I know. The sad truth is that even when I became old enough to make the choice, I still 100% and absolutely without hesitation chose Lebanon.

So sure, it was difficult at times (if you couldn’t already tell), but for the most part, it was fun. Having that Lebanese connection meant that I could take a break from reality, and have the best damn meals to come home to!


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