“thanks to your hands”

I don’t think I’ve ever realized before how much learning a language truly gives you a lens into the culture which that language belongs to. Of course, it allows you to understand what everyone is saying which is a HUGE insight into any culture. Beyond that, however, I am learning more and more how much the Arabic language reveals the values held most highly in this culture.

So far, I’ve learned approximately 25 different ways to say thank you, and I’m sure there are many more which I have yet to discover. among them is my favorite, which literally translated to English means “thanks to your hands”. This one you only use if someone has spent a lot of time doing something for you using their hands, like working hard all day or cooking. However, after eating there is a completely different way of saying thank you which means “joy upon you”. Most expressions of greetings, thank yous, or welcoming have specific contexts in which they apply and each social or cultural holiday or event has its own set of appropriate sayings and terms.

this is giving me a different understanding of just how important hospitality and propriety are, I’m excited to get to see this first hand and discover more things about this beautiful and rich place where I live.Image



today I got to skype with one of my very best friends, and it just reminded me how thankful I am to be alive in this moment in time. I’m thankful for the internet, for the ability to send emails, for skype and google hang out, for messages on facebook and texting apps and smart phones that make it seem as though my friends and family are right next door instead of 6,000 miles away.


language adventure chronicles #1 (…in other words…language fails)

I have been warned… several times, that language learning is the fast track to humility.It is absolutely true. It’s only week three of language but it’s been a fun and hilarious journey so far.

After learning all of my vegetables and sandwich accessories in Arabic, I was really pumped to go to al Fakhani (the closest bakery/convenience shop/sandwich place) and get my very first turkey and cheese sandwich. Everything was going pretty great, as I very slowly and with a LOT of hand gestures and pauses for laughter placed my order. The sandwich guys were incredibly fun and forgiving as they patiently waited for me to sound out ba-na-du-ra (tomato) and do-ra (corn…not the animated bilingual adventurer as I originally thought in a previous language fail).

So all was great in the realm of sandwich ordering. until… I got home and realized that I confused the word for “mustard” and the word for “hot peppers”

it was quite the mouth burning realization, but rest assured. i will never forget what har means. There’s a lot to be said for hands on language learning.

getting here

Ah it’s so good to be back! especially after a crazy travel day full of airline strikes and trying to learn essential German. I was going to blog about it, but my roommate Samantha who flew with me that day has already said it way better, so she is my very first guest blogger. Thanks sammy!


Back to Beirut. A Travel Diary

Last week I traveled back to Beirut, Lebanon. This post is about my experiences that day. It’s a long post but it was an even longer day!

Monday September 3rd

Woke and loaded the car to head to the airport.
I couldn’t tell if I was excited or afraid, happy or sad. It’s really hard for me to feel anything but tired at two in the morning. My dad and I loaded his car and left for Atlanta at three. This was the start to a very long day.

After getting to the airport, checking my bags, saying bye to my dad, and going through airport security I was finally starting to wake up. After a little while of tears I pulled myself together and started to get excited about what’s to come this year in Beirut. (I repeated this at least three times).

I arrive in Newark 🙂 my next flight leaves at 5pm 😦 . Luckily my friend, and incredible travel buddy, Kim arrives at 2. So after 8 hours of reading, That 70’s Show, and catching up, Kim and I leave on a 9 hour flight for Frankfurt, Germany where we have a short layover (or so we thought).

Tuesday September 4th 
7:00am (Germany Time)
Until now, I’ve had pretty seamless travel and a great time with Kim. As we areunboarding deboarding getting off the plane we learn that many Lufthansa workers were on strike and most of their flights in Europe were cancelled. Our flight, not landing in Europe, was scheduled to leave to as planned at 10:20am….until 9:50.

Time to find another flight. Two thirds of Lufthansa’s flights flying out of its biggest international airport were cancelled. You can imagine the chaos. After being directed from one line to the next and then back to first line we were in, and even leaving the airport once, we finally found the rebooking line and took a number. 511. The board had just called 320.

I’ve now lost track of time
So now we wait and wait. Kim and I took turns napping, well laying on the floor with our eyes closed, finding bathrooms, getting food, and looking for Euros to use the internet. About 5 hours later our number was called. We got rebooked and now were headed to DUSSELDORF, Germany.

Kim and I were so deprived of sleep at this point we were laughing at everything. Also we were on a plane to Dusseldorf which is just funny.


You can tell were pretty delusional at this point. I think I’m singing a song about Dusseldorf into my seatbelt. I really thought we were going to be kicked off the plane but there weren’t many people on our flight.


Kim and I leave from Dusseldorf and head to Beirut!

Wednesday September 5th

We arrive in Beirut. Our bags do not.

After filing a claim about our lost baggage, which was much easier than I expected, Kim and I found our friends who welcomed us water, my favorite Lebanese cookies, and m&ms (Thanks Tim, Ty, and Matt!)

Middle Eastern Airlines (great airline! not their fault our bags were lost) gave us a toiletry bag and a t-shirt!

Saturday September 8th
All of our bags arrived in Lebanon and Kim and I were able to go get them! At the airport all of the lost luggage was piled in one room and Kim and I had to walk inside and find ours. We found our bags, signed a piece of paper and finally ended our travel into Beirut. It was a long trip but I actually had a lot of fun along the way!
Here is Kim and me finally reunited with our luggage.