So this is almost two weeks over due, but I just wanted to give a quick update on how everything is going in general and how I’m adjusting. There are random things that irk me that I may or may not elaborate on in later posts, but in general, everything is awesome! My French has improved considerably and I’m able to hold entire conversations now – even if they are short. I’ve got a routine going and I know how to get where I need to go. I’m making friends and having fun. Everything’s going well.
Just about everything is the good! I’m loving my classes, my internship, the people around me, my host family, Dakar and Senegal in general. My program is pretty great! All the faculty and staff are very friendly and really invested in their work! They are genuinely concerned for our well-being and they make themselves quite available. I’m taking five classes with CIEE, auditing one and continuing my Wolof courses at the Baobab Center, so I’m staying quite busy – just the way I like it. But despite all of that and working on my research, I’m finding time to hang out with new friends and explore the city! On top of it all, I’ve also found some down time to read, draw, jog a few times, do some yoga and other random things I generally can’t find time for in a regular semester!
The classes I’m taking are Intermediate French II, Education and Culture in Senegal, Gender and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (My favorite class!! And the teacher’s research interests align with mine!), Senegalese Culture and Society (we get really interesting speakers each class), and my Internship seminar class which is in French. The class I’m auditing is a French course called Crisis Management and International Law in Africa. I would have taken it instead of Education and Culture, but I didn’t place into the right French. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I understand in the class and I’ve even participated a few times!!
My internship is a blast! I’m the Assistant in Communication at ImgaiNation Afrika – the first Children’s museum in Africa! The working environment is very energetic and I enjoy being with my co-workers. The director, Karima Grant, is a wonderful person with a lot of spirit and a beautiful vision! I’m getting to put the skills I’ve learned in my Strat Comm courses to work and having lots of fun while doing it!
I’m making friends in my program that are wonderful and I’ve kept in touch with the Senegalese friends I made in my old neighborhood and I try to go see them about two or three times a week. I’m also getting along with my new host family. They teased me endlessly, particularly the 11 and 12 years-old boys, when Nigeria lost to Senegal during the Afro-Basketball tournament. Nothing says family love like being teased about a sports team you didn’t coach.
I sleep and eat soooo much here, it’s not even funny! At most houses, breakfast consists of bread and anything from cheese, chocolate, butter or jam with some tea, powdered milk or Nescafe. At my house, it’s an unusually small piece of baguette and cheese or chocolate (I always take the cheese). Then lunch is generally any time after 1, and Fridays can be as late as 2:45 for me. Dinner at my house is between 8 and 9pm each night (earlier than most other houses). But between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner, I’m so extremely famished! Because I’m so hungry, I end up stuffing my face during lunch and dinner. Thus, I’m either extremely full or extremely hungry! And the food here is so good, I can’t help eating as much as I can and since I’m never sure what time the next meal is, it’s safer to just go ahead and over eat. I think one of the biggest differences here for me (and most other students in the program) is not being in control of when and what you eat.
On top of that, I’m packing in 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night! I don’t even know why! It might be the heat or how much I walk here, but by 9:30 I get really exhausted! By 10 or so, even if I’m trying to journal, I’ll just pass out! Then I generally wake up at 7 or 8. It’s kind of the life – but still a bit bizarre!