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Nur Turkmani 07 May 2014

This is What Happens When You Attend a Lebanese High School

Every student who went to high school in Lebanon will tell you, laughingly, that it was one of the best times of their life (except for those currently studying for the Bacc or Brevet – but give them a year to recover, and they’ll agree).

The reason? Well, Lebanese high schools have their own breed of interesting characteristics. Take a look:

1. Endless Days Off Due to Strikes/Snow/Political Turmoil
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The chance of finding a school with as many vacation days as one in Lebanon is close to none.

The teachers go on strike regularly to demand a wage hike. During the winter, anyone who lives in a mountainous village is snowbound and can’t make it to school. Another reason: the regular closure of roads due to protests or turmoil. Although this isn’t a joking matter, it is pretty fantastic for Lebanese students who spend more time at home than at school. Also religious holidays. We celebrate them all.

2. School Buses… or Zoos?
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When you think of school buses, you probably think of the standard yellow buses we’ve see on TV with organized seating and obedient children quietly reading their homework.


In Lebanon, school buses, which are anything but yellow and big, have become synonymous with zoos. Everyone is always screaming (including the bus drivers themselves) while the zu’ama (masters) sit in front, smoking cigarettes and inciting innocent fourth graders to fight with one another.

3. Teachers are Personally Invested in Your Life
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They know who you’re dating, they know when your family has financial problems, and they know when you’re fighting with your friends.

It’s not your normal student-teacher relationship, it’s more of a familial bond where every adult you know is magically informed about ever detail of your personal life. And, it’s a bit awkward.

4. Fireworks after the Brevet/Baccalaureate
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Families and friends of students that have passed the official government exams will, at the very moment they find out the happy results, order boxes of fireworks, light them all at the same time and for the next seven and a half minutes annoy anyone within a three kilometer radius of the area.

But hey – congrats, mate.

5. Gym Coaches Will Be Your Best Friends
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Take it as a rule of thumb: “coachies” in Lebanese schools are the homies, the bros, the ones who will save your butt when the principal kicks you out. Although he’s rough and gruff, he’s also a very lovable, goofy father-figure and he exists in every Lebanese high school.

6. Students Can, and Will, Turn Anything into a Dirbakeh
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Whether it’s a desk or a friend’s head, the hallways and classes are always ringing with the sound of drums. Lebanese students will look for the tiniest signal that it’s time to make a party – whether it’s your teacher falling, your friend’s birthday or the cancellation of an exam – and make some percussion-inspired sound to accompany the moment.