x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Retail therapy helps prepare for the challenges of university

We now have enough clothes to dress a battalion and tons of make-up goodies that will definitely go past their expiration date before we can work through them all.

School has started for younger teenagers, and our friends bound for American colleges have left for distant shores. As lots of universities in the United Kingdom haven’t started yet, four of us girls have all but set up camp in The Dubai Mall to prepare for a new lifestyle. Shopping is a surprisingly effective way of giving vent to the angst and emotional turmoil of fleeing the nest. We’re unhealthily materialistic, I’m afraid.

We had enjoyed Sofia Coppola’s movie The Bling Ring, about a group of teenagers who break into celebrities’ homes and help themselves to their luscious Louboutins and Chanel handbags, squealing in delight at Paris Hilton’s collection of shoes.

The teenagers in the film were undoubtedly parodies, exaggerated versions of the real deal, but I’m a bit disturbed by how we – and other Dubai teenagers – share their acquisitive, glamour-hungry streak. They were hoarding mounds of expensive clothes without handing over money to buy them. This is clearly unethical, of course, but we could easily imagine the thrill and adrenalin rush of sampling a slice of the celebrity lifestyle.

Our on-screen counterparts were rather cleverer than us, though. The only time I have ever got free stuff from a nice store was at Lush in Mercato Mall, where I received a sample jar of green goo that I think was an anti-ageing mask. What a lovely compliment, at 18.

No such luck on this spree – far from getting anything for free, my friend Veronika actually lost the shirt she wore to the mall. This has a perfectly simple explanation: after a stint in one of Forever 21’s changing rooms, we decided it was time to make a move. ­Veronika poked optimistically at the nearest jumble of tangled fabric. “Has anyone seen my shirt?”

We hadn’t, not even after a frantic hour-long search combing every possible shelf in Forever 21. Veronika’s boyfriend even reluctantly called from Hungary to talk to the manager – presumably to tell her to make more of an effort in looking for the shirt or he’d have to pay even more in overseas calls to Veronika telling her how very deeply he mourned her loss.

At Bath & Body Works – where we tried every perfume and began to smell nauseatingly floral – Shanzeh did a head count. She frowned, then did it again. There were definitely only three of us left. With a bit of a shock, we realised we had left Prianka behind at MAC. Frantic calls were made (“Really, she should have the courtesy to pick up her phone”). This turned out not to be of much use because Prianka’s phone was in ­Veronika’s handbag. After six hours of sprinting about in heels, I couldn’t help but marvel at the endurance of a teenage girl who’ll totter around for hours just to find the perfect blush.

We now have enough clothes to dress a battalion and tons of make-up goodies that will definitely go past their expiration date before we can work through them all. As for transporting everything to university, now might be a good time to research airline restrictions on baggage weight.

The writer is an 18-year-old living in Dubai.