#StudentClub #HECCèdres #YouthGoneWild
People in HEC are from a wide range of geographical and cultural backgrounds. This is something you know well before arriving on campus. Still, it takes some time to realize what that actually means. In only a few weeks, you will get to know hundreds of people from all over the world. That also means that no matter what country on no matter what continent you would ever want to travel to, you will probably end up knowing someone who grew up there. That is a network that excites
me even more than the professional network that this school definitely also provides. So there it was, after a few weeks of library sessions, student restaurant meals and nights of drinking and dancing on campus or in Paris, the Lebanese student organization, HECèdres, proposed to make a trip to Lebanon in April. Most of us had already been to the middle east but Beirut was not exactly a go to city trip destination. On top of that, to be able to visit this place with locals who know all the
nice hangouts and cultural highlights sounded like a great way to discover a country. And that is why, that one night in November, we all found ourselves behind our laptops to “shotgun” a spot for what was supposed be a once in a lifetime travel experience.
Almost as exciting as getting the HEC admission results was finding out that me and some friends of mine had made the cut. Four months later, after what seemed like a very long wait, a group of forty overly excited international students boarded a plane in Charles de Gaulle Airport. Upon arrival, I immediately realized how Lebanon, or Beirut at least, is less chaotic and underdeveloped than I expected. We would soon understand that the nightlife in Beirut would make every Parisian
jealous. During the day, we had all sorts of activities planned. Under the careful guidance of the HECèdres president, Nicole Salloum, we visited the magnificent Baʿalbek temple near the Syrian border on our first day. You definitely realize how close you are to actual conflict areas, but we never felt unsafe. Talking to locals makes you understand the complexity of these problems. The issues are to be understood from a political, religious and socio-economic point of view.
As the week went on, we rolled into our pattern of going out by night and visiting Lebanese highlights by day. From the old city of Byblos to the snow-covered mountain tops in the Forest of the Cedars of God in the Kadisha Valley, not a single place failed to impress us. Another thing I will never forget was our visit to the largest Lebanese stronghold in the Israeli-Lebanese conflict. On our way over there we realized how the Lebanese resistance was actually lead by the Hezbollah militant group. It was surreal to find ourselves in what looked like a pro-Hezbollah propaganda – and memorial center. It is, however, part of the cultural experience to grasp how this “Party” played an important role in defending the country and therefore doesn’t have the same connotation for the local population.
The bars in Beirut are very nice. The clubs in Beirut are batshit crazy. I vaguely remember how at two o’clock in the morning we rolled out of a club that was impressive and exclusive in any way imaginable. The Lebanese crew, almost all of them are girls, got their cars back from the valet and drove us to a former underground bomb shelter that had been turned into a club after the civil war. As in a drunken haze, I see us in that place, zoned out and dancing to Electro music. No one was talking anymore. We did not need words to let each other know how cool that place was. At five in the morning, the ceiling of the bomb shelter opened up, slowly and suspenseful as the electro music kept playing. Under the upcoming sun, we danced on as if it was the last party we would ever go to. Of course, the lifestyle started to take its toll and we slept more in the bus than in our hotel beds. You know a trip is truly amazing when, despite a chronic state of complete sleep
deprivation, the vibe does not drop for even a second. Once again I realize how satisfying it is to
Once again I realize how satisfying it is to meet people from different backgrounds. It is not just about the countries they take you to. It’s about opening up to new things and discovering new places. And most of all, it is the energy of these people that really drives you.
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