Huda Abdelmajid

Being a Libyan who is relatively new to Libya; I have always geared articles week to speak to both average Libyans, as well as Libyans who lived abroad

This week, I thought it would be interesting to use my experience of adapting to life in Libya, as well as the experiences of others in an interesting and corky article that highlights, “21 Ways Libya Changes You,” or areas where your perspective shifts to resemble that of the general public

Please bear in mind that expatriates in Libya will have a different experience than mine. The reality of being expected to adapt in this culture, given my origin, has had an effect on my experience, sometimes without my realising

After living in Libya long enough, these are some things you may find yourself doing:

Give directions the ‘Libyan’ way; identify specific streets by naming the nearest pharmacy or distinct graffiti inscriptions

Drive offensively rather defensively

Blame road rage on the heat

Greet females while abiding by common etiquette. Kissing four times, twice on either cheek; or pile them all on one cheek if greeting an elderly woman

Use the year you were born to answer inquiries about your age

Say the word “hashak” after mentioning fish, trash or the number five in conversation is etiquette, so as not to offend those listening

Eat camel, as it is considered to be just another red meat option at the butcher shop

Have tuna for breakfast or fried eggs as a midnight snack

Learn the tricks of taking out the garbage; figuring out the least busy time of day and garbage deposit

Refer to the carbonated drink, Seven-up as simply “Seven” first so that waiters understand your order but soon because it flows better within an Arabic sentence

Sitting on the floor can be just as comfortable as a chair

Prefer your cup of Nescafé rather than the average cup of coffee, even though your coffee machine is plugged in

The middle of bread becomes known as the ‘fatty’ part of the bread

Pizza is only a side dish, or can pass as a snack

While you may experience the daily challenges of being a woman in Libya, you can also appreciate the perks, like not having to get out of your car to fill up your gas tank and jumping to the front of a line

Clack your tongue to mean “yes” or to express agreement

Appreciate every moment with electricity, and expect it to cut off at any time

Smell something burning? Not to worry, it is only the neighbor burning a pile of waist

Sounds like war zone all of a sudden? Well, that’s only the wedding at the end of the road

Learn to value the difficulties of life in Libya because they are the same reasons that make Libya unique

Finally, end every conversation with, “Allah ghalib”


Previously published by Tripoli Post on 25 August 2013.

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