Is it safe to study abroad in the Middle East? Chances are if you are studying Arabic this is a question you (or your parents) are asking. We have helped thousands of students study abroad in Lebanon and their experience with safety has been overwhelmingly positive.
Here’s a few examples about traveling to Beirut that you might find surprising:
It’s comfortable for women
Our female students who have spent time in other Arab countries frequently comment on how life in Beirut as a single woman is a lot more hassle free than in other places they have been – not to name those countries.
In general, Lebanese are used to different styles, seeing more skin and interacting with members of the opposite sex. This means men won’t frequently stop what they are doing to stare at you or say things to you – if you don’t send the wrong signals.
What are the wrong signals? Honestly, the way you dress and how relationships look depends on where you in Lebanon and what you are doing and we will cover that in class. At ALPS Beirut we are passionate about helping you learn Arabic and build relationships here and a big part of that is being able to understand and relate to the people you are spending time with.
It’s a big city
Beirut is a dense urban city and even though the people are more welcoming and talkative than in large cities in Europe or America so you want to use the same, basic precautions you would use in any city. Things like:
- Always have your cell phone
- Don’t get in a stager’s car
- Don’t go out alone at night
- Have a trusted taxi company’s phone number on your phone before you go out
- Call ALPS Beirut anytime if you get lost or in a tough situation – we are here to help.
- Don’t try to break a $100 bill in a taxi – carry small bills
What about bombs?
Unfortunately terrorism is a global threat that can strike anywhere, anytime. We’ve seen this in Beirut, Paris and Boston – just to name a few.
We can’t promise that you will be safe studying abroad in Lebanon, another country or even at your home university. That’s just the reality about life. However, we can confirm that we’ve never closed ALPS for security reasons during the last 9 years, neither in Hamra nor in Mansourieh.
What Parents Say
We have had parents here when a bomb has gone off – and have been surprised by their reaction – cool, calm and not worried. However, those same parents when they saw something on the news 100 miles away got nervous and called. Once parents visit they are surprised by 1) the traffic and 2) how Beirut looks nothing like what they pictured from the news.
How to Decide if it is Right for You
Which brings us to our last point – it’s best to talk with people on the ground who have experience before you make a decision. Talk with students who have studied abroad, email a few places or give us a call.
If you have questions, doubts or concerns we can talk on the phone or Skype before you book your plane ticket. But, in the end, we like to tell students if you don’t feel comfortable, it’s best not to come.