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Christina Fakhry 17 Sep 2015

A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Back to School’ Season in Lebanon

The school bus is here. Wake up.

Surrender to the traumatic effect of the annual backpack invasion. It’s all fun and games until you come across your first back-to-school billboard (also known as the official death of summer announcement) towards the end of August. And if that doesn’t do the trick, I’m pretty sure the 378302 backpacks stacked up at the entrance of the nearest supermarket will.

Complain about morning traffic. It is no secret that complaining about traffic has become an integral part of our identity as Lebanese (alongside Fairuz, the cedars, and tabbouleh). And although roads are jammed year-round, the whining particularly intensifies during the month of September, where traffic basically becomes the conversational equivalent of weather talk (and a socially acceptable greeting by all means).

Dramatically increase your daily intake of Zaatar. According to the revolutionary logic of Lebanese mothers, Zaatar makes you smarter. And therefore you’re bound to follow a Zaatar-only diet for the rest of the year, which may or may not be occasionally interrupted by manic episodes of Nesquik. Oh, and don’t forget your milk.

Initiate passionate conversations about tuition increases. You might think being a parent is a perquisite for this one but, curiously enough, it isn’t. Every Lebanese citizen is entitled to the noble right of condemning tuition increases at the start of every academic year. Add that to the traffic complaints and you’ll get the perfect September conversation combo.

Unleash your teacher envy like no tomorrow. Excuse my slightly Freudian inference, but throwing shade at the lifestyle of teachers is an absolute necessity here. Everyone is suddenly mad at school professors who, according to Lebanese Reasoning 101, shall be publicly condemned for the wrongful act of working less hours than most fellow humans. They also get to rest all summer (after a full academic year of sustained student-induced nervous breakdowns occasionally spiced by weeks of severe emotional suffering). What kind of felony is this?

Spend your entire allowance on stationary you’ll probably never use. Because one simply cannot survive without the complete collection of Clairefontaine notebooks.

Avoid social media during exam period. Because your psychological wellbeing matters to us, we highly advise you to hibernate away from all social media platforms until the online whining period initiated by exams is officially over (well unless you’re particularly interested in making your life a living hell).

Throw random academic advice at people. The world desperately needs seasoned school survivors like you to enlighten younger masses on the most efficient studying methods (or cheating strategies if you’re less fortunate) and you’ve got to constantly maintain a strong ‘been there, done that’ attitude. It’s time you establish yourself as a self-justified expert in all school subjects as it is absolutely normal for neighbors, younger relatives and even tweeps to come knocking at your door in times of complicated essays and indecipherable math problems.