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Paul Sima: Year in Beirut (Part Two) Added:28.6. 2010
Updated:17.6. 2010
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Paul Sima: Year in Beirut (Part Two)

„All of us Arabs – Foreign students – asking what we're doing when they try to get out of here,“ tells us about their experiences of studying in the Arab world, Paul Sima.

  • (Continuation of first part of the interview) *

Lebanese AUB to study the most bachelor's and master's degrees go to study in the USA. But the school also has a Master's degree program, which is renowned for, and Middle Eastern Studies, the study also people coming from the West. But it's not a cheap affair, AUB is a private university, which is some two hundred thousand a year. Therefore, there is also the majority of Lebanese students rather from the higher layers.

** What student life students live? **

With the lifestyle I was completely unable to identify. As I indicated at the university was chosen breed from higher layers. Ride in their expensive cars to expensive clubs, where they sat and drank expensive beer. But there were some exceptions. Because the entire university was in a large area, I had the opportunity to constantly meet classmates. The university was a lot of leisure activities in which we could participate. Credit as were in our gym, but operate on the basis of the associations. I, for one dedicated Latin American dance, others went into the countryside or danced Dąbki, a local national dance. Relationships between students were generally given the atmosphere of the campus. Students there put together despite the disciplines they study, but in areas that are enjoyed.

** I was able to assimilate with the Arab religion? **

In Lebanon, Muslims and Christians, but no infidels. The best is in front of them admit that man is an atheist. Confessions where everyone wants to know and not afraid to ask. I hate to lie, so I told a few times and have experienced because a lot of curious situations. People could not understand how I can believe. Perhaps Syria has happened to me, that I went to the bank clerk and once discovered that I was an atheist, I spent more hours there, during which the officer tried to convince me that atheism is bad and that I should turn to a faith.

** It really takes religion so seriously? **

It depends. It happens that the beer classmate declared that a Muslim. But even if their beliefs do not fundamentally all that is unnatural for them not to believe in anything, and some hard coming to terms with it. In keeping with decorative with you as an infidel last to finish a conversation, but after you leave, hold your own. Several times a detour to get to me, what about me who said although it was contrary to his nice behavior to me. But it is their habits – are most helpful to strangers, though you may not receive životanázor.

** Has influenced you the ubiquitous devoutness? **

I was there a year and of its atheistic positions I did not back down an inch.

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"Photography is Lebanese – Israeli border, guarding the UN mission. The picture I have with Philippine troops and their American friends. " (Photo: archive Paul Sima)

** You studied political science there. How seriously students took the local policy? **

Very seriously. Political orientation in Lebanon depends on the de facto religion. It is said that by name and accent can be estimated from what is one of the region, what is religion and who to elect. The entire Lebanon is very politicized, people constantly discuss politics and there is a feeling unstable voltage. And do not avoid unrest or students. In 2008 in May there was fighting in Lebanon between the opposition and government forces, and my classmate of hooded fighters knew the voice of man, who seen the college. I was quite lucky that the year I spent there, the situation was quite calm. But just when I left, and riots broke out firefight, the army was called in and around our campus, armored personnel carriers raced to remember those vividly.

** He found you when life is threatened? **

Then no, but once I almost fell into the clutches Hisbaláhu, an organization on the official U.S. list of terrorist organizations. And thanks to silly photo I took during the parliamentary elections. At the same time the picture was not anything interesting, just as a member Hisbaláhu check off voters, just at the table, someone writes something. Just me and wanted obestoupili guys, whether I delete a photo. But I did not difitální camera and I certainly did not want to lose all my previous photos. There was a struggle for the camera, two guys grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled away. At that moment I said it badly. But luckily they had a superior command, that took me to the police and then released me. But I am convinced that Western Hisbaláh kill civilians.

** In Libanononu you were before the completion of undergraduate studies. Where would you like to entered the master's degree? **

I want to master's degree somewhere in the Arab world. It was the best year of my life. Thanks to their amazing culture, thanks to the incredible hospitality of the locals. With friends, I got there. I practiced my English and learned Arabic. I have experienced life on campus, which binds all learners. After that year I spent there, I knew so many people that if I stopped to everyone you know, all day I just plkal. Definitely next time I do not want to Europe, which is very homogenized. I would also lured dálnější East, but I know that one lifetime will befall only a limited number of things and I would like to have concentrated on the Middle East.

** Do you feel that you somehow changed the experience? **

When I returned after a year in the Czech Republic, I began to perceive it differently. If I was ever in any seeds of nationalism, so there certainly is not. I became more critical and less ideological. I find that I can stand and elsewhere, to find friends there and develop a relationship with the local culture. I examined that one can build their own unique identity, even outside their country. It is important to have a social network. And the one year horizon can be built anywhere. Never has a man gain friends, with whom he knows twenty years, but even so you can create a satisfying network of friends and acquaintances. But I believe that if there was one semester and not two, it would be a totally different experience.

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