A month from now, my little sister is embarking on a trip of a lifetime to Nazareth. She will be staying with my mother’s cousins. For 2 weeks, she will be living as they do and experiencing the best of what Arab culture has to offer. She is in her twenties and single, so the first thing that comes to my mind is to give her some (unsolicited) advice. As the big sister, I feel it is my duty to protect her and help the best I can, like I always try to do. So for her, I have made a checklist that I think will help her when visiting the “old country”.
2. Pack a lot of nice outfits. You never know if you are going to a wedding or visiting another relative’s house. They might have a fancy party for you every night. Be prepared.
3. Don’t worry about learning Arabic. They will teach you! You’ll come back with all kinds of phrases that you can’t learn from books.
4. Tell the U.S. Embassy that you are coming so they have a record of you being there. Keep your passport on your person at all times. There’s this new RFID blocking passport wallet that you should think about getting. Maybe I’ll get it for you in pink!
5. Stay away from anything with “hashish” in it. Don’t drink too much arak. Stay sober. No one likes a drunk American.
6. If an aunt or cousin offers you something to eat, eat it and say that it’s delicious. It’s an insult to not eat the food they make for you. Oh, and prepare to gain at least 10 lbs!
7. Try not to make eye contact and smile at any single men while you are there, even if it is your cousin! Unless you want to bring home a husband, then flirt away!
8. You will constantly be surrounded by people and loudness. So be prepared for high noise levels and people in your face. Personal space is non-existent. Also, keep in mind, they are not fighting when they yell, that is just how they talk. If you think they are talking about you in Arabic, they are. Just keep smiling and nod!
9. You are never going to have “me” time over there. They love you and will be on a mission to make sure every moment you have with them is the best! Bring a good camera with A/C adapters to keep your electronics charged and ready to go to capture those moments. Plus, they have Facebook over there, so I expect to see all your photos daily. Don’t skimp on the picture posts!
10. You don’t have to bring me back a souvenir, you should bring me back several, especially gold jewelry. Better yet, I’ll give you a pre-paid Visa card to buy me stuff from the Holy Land.
I’m happy for you and excited that you are going to see where our mother came from. I wish I could go with you, but I will be there in spirit. Now, I’m going to sulk in private and just know that I’m jealous but still love you! Have an amazing trip little sister!