Lebanon, a country where different worlds meet, is a gateway between the East and the West — a diverse, cosmopolitan jumble of European and Middle Eastern influences which Lebanese have transformed into a unique culture all of their own. Despite its small size, Lebanon’s breathtaking geography, rich history and diversity of cultures make it a fascinating place for overseas students. If you want to learn Arabic, you are headed to the right place, but Lebanon is also home to many French and English speakers, which is an added draw for many international students. Lebanon occupies approximately 10,452 square kilometers of area with a population of around 6 million people. 

 

 

 



Languages Spoken:

Arabic, English, French

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

Education in Lebanon begins at age six with elementary education. Secondary education, for 15- to 18-year-olds, is split between General and Technical Education tracks. Students following the General Education track study humanities, economics, sciences and life science, whereas there are around 55 specialties students in the Technical Education track can choose from. Successful completion of the program is dependent upon sitting for the Lebanese Baccalaureate exams, at which point they receive the Lebanese Baccalaureate Certicate of Secondary Education (Shahaadat Al-Bakaalouriya al Lubnaaniya l’il-ta ‘liim al-Thaanawi – Al Thanawiyah Al-Aamah Al-lubnaniah) or the Technical Baccalaureate (Al-Bakaalouriya al-Fanniya). 

Higher education in Lebanon consists of the public Lebanese University, private universities and university colleges, and technical and vocational institutes. Some professional qualifications can be obtained in two-year programs; the License, Bachelor’s degree or Diploma programs are usually three to five years in length, carrying 180-240 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) or 90-120 American credits.  

Further study can result in a Maîtrise, Master's degree, Magistère, Diplôme d'Etudes supérieures and the Diplôme d'Etudes approfondies. Doctorate and Ph.Ds are awarded in the French and American university systems, respectively, and the Midical Doctorat (MD) is awarded after seven years of study.  

 

STUDYING IN LEBANON 

Courses 

The academic year in Lebanon runs from October to June. The Lebanese American University follows a typical U.S. academic calendar, with the first term running from the end of August until mid-December, and spring term beginning in mid-January and terminating in mid-May. The language of instruction at LAU is English. 

Registration 

Check with your host coordinator upon acceptance for information about course registration processes. 

Course Load 

Students will enroll in five courses, typically spending 15 hours per week in class.  

Exams & Grading

A final exam will typically be the main assessment for a course, though continuous evaluation in the form of tests or other assignments may count towards a final grade as well, in addition to class attendance or other measures.  

Transcripts 

Please check with your host coordinator to ensure all requirements are met so they can send your transcript to ISEP to be forwarded to your home institution.

Visa and Residency

COVID-19 Update: 

Governments around the world have temporarily suspended the issuance of student visas. 

ISEP will communicate proactively with students as soon as we receive further visa guidance, but at this time we expect that all Fall and Full Year 2020 students will be able to obtain their visa in advance of their program start date.  

You should consult the visa application guidelines below to carefully review all requirements and begin collecting the necessary paperwork so that you are ready to submit the required materials as soon as student visa processing resumes. Please contact your Student Services Coordinator with any questions you may have at this time. 

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Visa regulations can change at any time and without notice. Students should always consult their local Consulate or Embassy to verify the most up to date visa information. All students are required to obtain a visa to enter Lebanon. Visa requirements can vary depending on the country your passport is issued in. 

Type of visa: Visa

Visa fee: $35-70 USD

When to apply: At least 4 weeks before departure

 

View the application here

Lebanon embassy in the United States consular services

 

Application Requirements:

• Visa Application form 

• One valid Passport

• A copy of applicant's Permanent Residency Card for non-U.S. citizens

• Photocopies of the passport pages containing the full name, photo, passport #, issue date, and expiry date (one copy of each page)

• One passport-sized photo

• An address in Lebanon is necessary

• One certified self-addressed, stamped envelope. (USPS Only)

• A money order (no cash or checks accepted) payable to the Embassy of Lebanon 

o Proof of health insurance coverage.

 

General Processing Time: 10 business days

 

Culture

The culture of Lebanon is the product of various civilizations and cultures that have passed through the country over thousands of years. Lebanon has an Arab culture colored by Western influences. At different periods of its history, Lebanon has come under the domination of foreign rulers, including Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans. Although often conquered, the Lebanese take pride in their rebellions against despotic and repressive rulers. Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the "Switzerland of the East" during the 1960s. Its capital, Beirut, attracted so many tourists that it was known as "the Paris of the Middle East." Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, has been destroyed and rebuilt seven times. 

Lebanon has a heritage almost as old as the earliest evidence of mankind. Evidence of an early settlement in Lebanon was found in Byblos, which is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The first alphabet was created by Cadmus in Byblos city. 

Religion

Despite Lebanon’s small population, the estimate of religion distribution in Lebanon now is about half Muslims and half Christians, distributed within 18 officially recognized religious sects. This colorful religious and cultural mix gives Lebanon its unique character.

Food

The cuisine of Lebanon is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet. It includes an abundance of fruits, vegetables, starches, fresh fish and seafood. The enduring tradition of the Lebanese is starters: mezza, soemtimes known as hors d'oeuvres. No visit to the country is complete without at least one full mezza meal. Remember to leave room for baklava (sweet pistachio filo treats).

Lebanese classics including tabbouleh, kibbeh, hummus and baba’gannouj are now known and eaten all over the world. 

LGBTQAI+

It is recommended that LGBTQAI+ students conduct personal research on their host country before departing for their program. The articles BELOW may be a good starting point on such research. However, students should keep in mind that social attitudes and acceptance may vary based on a number of factors including region, age, and the local political climate. If you would like to be connected with your host coordinator or an alumni who identifies as LGBTQAI+ before your departure, please contact your Program Manager.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/08/28/success-savor-more-challenges-lgbt-rights-lebanon

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/04/middleeast/lebanon-elections-lgbt-rights-intl/index.html

 

Daily Life

Climate

Lebanon’s beauty is unique by its geographical location being located on the Eastern edge of the Mediterranean. It is characterized by a Mediterranean climate where one can enjoy the four seasons: cold winter, warm spring, hot summer and cool autumn. One can even swim in the Mediterranean Sea and then go skiing in the mountains on the same day! 

 

Language

The national language in Lebanon is Arabic, but French and English are widely spoken. Arabic script is written from right to left and several sounds are unique to the language. It is worth noting that Arab countries speak different dialects that vary from one country to another; however they all share the formal classical Arabic. French was widely used during the French Mandate era and was then compulsory in schools, but English is now rapidly becoming another second language. Today Arabic is the fifth-most spoken language in the world spoken by an estimated 420 million people, 300 of which are native speakers. It is an official language in 26 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Qatar to Chad.

 

Time in Lebanon: GMT+2 (Apr-Sep GMT+3)

 

Transportation

Buses

• Beirut has frequent bus connections to other cities in Lebanon

• The Lebanese Commuting Company is one of a handful of public transportation providers

• The publicly-owned buses are managed by the Railway and Public Transportation Authority

• Buses for northern destinations leave from Charles Helou station

• Buses are popular, inexpensive and can be stopped anywhere by hailing

• Never take the bus without verifying the destination with the driver

• The fare for one ride is LBP 1,000

• There are public buses and private buses

Taxis and Service 

• People are served by taxis or service

• A service is cheaper than a taxi because it is a shared ride, but the price must be bargained before setting off

Service-taxis are the most popular means of transportation in Lebanon

• They are recognizable by their red plate and most of them are old models of Mercedes

• You call a taxi by hailing

• Be sure to specify if you want it as a taxi or a service

 

Communication

The country code for Lebanon is +961. The first two digits of Lebanese telephone numbers are the area code.

It is suitable for you to buy a local SIM card if you are staying for more than one month. The cost of a SIM card is U.S. $3 and it is charged monthly. Touch and Alfa companies are the only local providers.

Mobile phones are very popular in Lebanon; however most businesses and homes have land lines. You can purchase student plans offered by both Touch and Alfa to benefit from different kinds of services.

Postal Service

It is recommended to go directly to the Libanpost post office for any postal needs, since there are few letterboxes in the streets. The mail forwarding is fairly fast (about one to two weeks for Europe and North America). International express parcels services are also represented (FedEx, DHL).

Internet

Internet connections are very common in Lebanon. Cyber-cafes are widespread in cities as well as most villages. Many hotels also provide internet connections.

 

LGBTQAI+

It is recommended that LGBTQAI+ students conduct personal research on their host country before departing for their program. The articles BELOW may be a good starting point on such research. However, students should keep in mind that social attitudes and acceptance may vary based on a number of factors including region, age, and the local political climate. If you would like to be connected with your host coordinator or an alumni who identifies as LGBTQAI+ before your departure, please contact your Program Manager.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/08/28/success-savor-more-challenges-lgbt-rights-lebanon

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/04/middleeast/lebanon-elections-lgbt-rights-intl/index.html

 

Health and Safety

Health 

Modern medical facilities are widely available in Lebanon, and most hospitals are well equipped and doctors are generally well qualified though nursing standards vary. The majority of medical staff speak French and English. Make sure you have adequate health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation (you will purchase health insurance through ISEP).

Pharmacies are easily accessible and can advise on over-the-counter medication.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 140 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Visit your health professional at least four to six weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

Check the latest country-specific information and advice from the U.K.'s National Travel Health Network and Centre, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, our another such agency. 

It is not advised to eat from food street vendors and do not drink tap water.

 

Safety 

- Connect with your home country's embassy in Lebanon to let them know you are here. View the Embassies directory.

- There is a high feeling of safety in Lebanon because of strong security presence in most areas. In Beirut, as in other towns and villages, streets are particularly safe day and night; random violence is seldom experienced by both locals or visitors. It is still best to move around in groups and be careful of theft in busy tourist areas. 

- Do not carry too much money on you, it is preferable that you hold credit/debit cards instead. Do not leave your belongings unattended in public areas such as tables in public restaurants, hallways and classrooms in academic buildings, or public restrooms.

- You can find emergency numbers below:

o Police:112

o Red Cross: 140

o General Security:1717

o Fire Brigade: 175

o Civil Defense: 125

 

Local Customs and Politics

- Respect local traditions, laws and religion beliefs and be aware of customs to avoid unintentionally offending someone 

- Avoid discussing political views and opinions with strangers, which may lead to serious tension and conflicts

- Dress modestly when visiting any religious site

- Possession, use, and trafficking of all kinds of drugs or marijuana is illegal in Lebanon and this may result in prison sentence

- Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on news information

 

Currency

The official currency is the Lebanese Pound, though the U.S. dollar is also used.

Banking is a major industry in Lebanon with strict banking secrecy being one of its important features. More than 100 banks operate in the country and transactions are performed efficiently and at a low cost.

- Credit cards: Many shops, hotels, restaurants and bars accept international payment cards such as Visa or American Express 

- ATMs: Withdrawal can be made from any automatic bank teller found in any region of the country 

- Traveler's checks: Lebanese banks can exchange them very easily.

As the capital of Lebanon, Beirut is the most expensive city in the country, but cost of living is lower in Beirut than in major European cities.

o Accommodation within Beirut: $600-1000/month 

o Outside Beirut: $400-600/month 

o Food: $300/month

 

Tippping 

- You usually tip porters, waiters, hotel staff, guides, doormen and others in the service industry. The average rate in restaurants is 10-15%, whereas with other service providers anywhere between 2,000LBP and 10,000LBP would be acceptable (depending on service and quality provided).

 

Bargaining 

- It is common to bargain the fare with taxi drivers, with street sellers or for a wholesale purchase.

 

Sources of Information

https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/middle-east/lebanon/

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/lebanon/essential-information

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/lebanon

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/where-to-study/study-in-lebanon

https://www.masterstudies.com/article/Why-Study-in-the-Middle-East-Six-Destinations-to-Consider/

http://www.destinationlebanon.gov.lb/en/tourismtype/1

https://embassy.goabroad.com/

 

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