Sénégal, dinaa nga namena torop.
Sénégal, dinaa nga namena torop.
Comment: acadamson said “Missing these sunsets. #senegal #galsen #africa #afrique #nofilter #homeawayfromhome #namenaala #samareew”
Comment: smaffio said “#tiebujenne #senegal #nern #instafood #vrc #varese #ndande www.ndande.org #milanocitymarathon #7aprile2013 #runforareason”
Comment: frncine said “Magic tea! #Senegal #Africa #kinkeliba”
Yes folks, I can’t believe it either- but it’s my final day in Senegal. As I woke up this morning to the sun streaming through my mosquito net and the sound of pots and cheb-bowls clanging together out my bedroom window, I realized that this is the last time I will be enjoying these events. What a bittersweet experience it is! I am very torn about the whole thing. Half of me is psyched to get back to America with its warm showers, and all the other perks living in a first-world country can bring. This whole week I have had this feeling of “being ready” to have new adventures. To move on to the next experience. But on the other hand, I am extremely apprehensive to leave. I am going to miss so many things about Dakar- not the least of which is my host family!
But enough of that emotional mumbo-jumbo. It’s time to tell you about my week!
What a week it was!
Monday and Tuesday were devoted to wrapping up loose ends in my academic life here. Wolof Final, Papers, Re-entry session, the works.
Tuesday night we had our final farewell dinner with the program. It was a beautiful evening. Many students shared their talents with us- My friends Rachel and Chris did their own rendition of “baby it’s cold outside” a capella and I was floored by how talented they are! I had made some group superlatives for everyone in the form of a slideshow and that went over very well!
Wednesday was many people’s last day in Dakar, so we spent most of the day on the beach playing ultimate Frisbee and checking out a dead fish that was the size of a basketball. Afterwards I met up with my friends Kira and Talisa to go on an ingredient-finding mission in order to cook dinner for Talisa’s family that night. We had so much fun preparing dinner with them all and I fell absolutely in love with her 3-year-old sister Binta (or Fifi, as she was called). Talisa’s family enjoyed our vegan meal of “swimming Rama”, and didn’t complain too much that freezer water had gotten all over our no-bake cookies! The evening ended with a trip to Rachel’s house to see her off and help her take her bags to Brioge D’oree- where she would be meeting the bus.
Thursday I was fortunate enough to be involved in a Senegalese Wedding! My host-cousin Omi was marrying a man from St. Louis (Senegal of course) but here is the kicker- despite being actively involved in the wedding festivities, I still have never laid eyes on either of them! Nether was in attendance! You see, here in Senegal weddings are more of a family affair- even to the point that the date is set regardless of weather the couple can be in attendance. In fact, Omi is in Paris currently. The groom simply could not make it because he had to work . For me, the day was a gamish of bright colored boubous, wonderful food, and lots… I mean LOTS of people!
From the very moment I woke up I was enlisted to help make goody bags. This chore would take over most of my day- between cutting small fabric circles to wrap candy in, to making beignets and bonbons with Mam Mbinda (remind me to tell you the story about the Cous Cous lady if you get a chance!) , to packing the bags and tying them with little white bows, the 500 bags we made took well into the afternoon to finish.
I have to admit, that with so many people around and all the confusion and noise, I had to escape to my room to breathe more than once. It was quite overwhelming. Around noon we took a break from bag-making to enjoy Cheebu Jenn for lunch. At that point there were only about 50 people in the house, and we were all fed traditional Senegalese-style around the cheb bowl! Bowls were assigned to you based on your age and gender- so I was placed at a bowl with my sisters and their friends. By that point we had run out of spoons, so I spent the meal trying to look graceful eating with my hand. When that failed, I resorted to just trying not to get chebb on the dress my sister Mimi had given me the day before.
The actual wedding part started around 5 that evening and took place in my parent’s bedroom. It consists of a praying ceremony wherein the brothers and fathers of the bride and groom exchange gifts to bond their families together, but I was not actually able to attend. Only men are invited to this part of the festivities. Because of this, Kira and I escaped to my room to give ourselves henna tattoos.
After the ceremony, it was time to party! A large tent had been set up outside my house for dancing and other festivities
Most of the under-30 crowd, however, hung out in Issa and Habib’s room and enjoyed the different fried foods that had been made for the occasion. As the evening died, I was invited to have dinner with Issa and his friend around a small bowl- chicken and couscous . habib and his friends joined us, and we all had a conversation about the educational system in America to end the night on an academic note.
Yesterday, like all Fridays, was a pottery studio day!
I really adore the pottery studio. Making funny faces at the deaf children in order to communicate, working on beautiful artwork together, being served atyya every time we turn around- it really is great. However, I will NOT miss the CONSTANT proposals (yes… marriage proposals) from Amed. He is really crazy. Earlier in the semester he was in love with Annelise, than Gina, then Samantha’s sister who came to visit for only a week, and now it’s my turn. Here is a picture of me trying to stab him with a pottery knife (do not worry- it’s a joke!)
WARNING! The next part of the story gets a little gross. You may want to skip this paragraph if you have a weak stomach
This particular Friday the new puppy (she has been there for two weeks now. Her name is still in dispute) was acting particularly sickly and Samantha noticed she had a little abscess on her ear. Samantha decided she was going to give puppy a bath, so we began to gather a bucket and soap. At this point, a French woman came into the pottery studio. Samantha showed her the puppy and the French woman saw how bad the puppy’s ear looked. The French woman announced “this puppy has worms”, but we were doubtful. At this point, the French woman squeezes the abscess on the puppy’s ear and it pops open and shoots puss, blood, and yes… a worm, across the yard. There was enough pressure behind that thing that it actually shot a good 6 feet. After that, the French woman, Samantha, and Amed, proceed to pull 12 worms from various parts of the puppy’s skin- mostly her feet and tail and then give her a good bath. Here is a picture of the worms once evacuated from their puppy-home
…and the happy de-wormed puppy….
After that we went back to painting pottery. Here is my finest creation:
After that, I met up with Talisa at the Oakam bus stop to buy more groceries for yet another cooking endeavor- this time at Kira’s house.
We had a great time cooking spaghetti. And by cooking spaghetti I really mean throwing carrot peels and noodles at each other and Talisa whipping me with a towel. I don’t remember a time when I laughed that much! But Kira’s family enjoyed our Spaghetti and fruit salad. We ended the night painting our nails and learning the card game “gin rummy” from Kira on my bedroom floor- where we usually play cards. I am not so good at that game. Presidents, Nerts, Eucre and Schmivvy are more my speed.
And with that, you are caught up on my life and last week in Senegal. Woot! What a post!
Though this is not the last of my Senegal posts (I plan to make one more before leaving the country, and keep up with my blog during my re-adjustment to America) I would like to thank you all for following me on my adventure this far. I hope you have enjoyed the blog and I love and miss every one of you! See you soon Inschallah!
I usually take the 219 to get home after my community service, but I had heard from some of my bus-ridin friends (Oakamites) that you could also get to my neighborhood using another bus. I couldn’t remember if they said 42 or 43.
So, when the 43 pulled up to the stop I was waiting at, I decided to try it out. I went up to the driver and asked if the bus went down “L’ancienne piste”, the road I live on , and he told me that the 42- not the 43 goes there and I would have to catch another bus. Right then, the 42 turns out into the road in front of us- but it is far enough away that I wouldn’t have had time to catch up. The driver of the 43 proceeds to drive after him, tailgating him, and flashing his lights so that the 42 driver will know to stop. He does and I am able to catch the right bus.
The whole time I was on the 43 bus, all the passengers at the front of the bus were helpful, kind, and encouraging- even though I was probably slowing down their daily commute. The driver- obviously- went above and beyond for me, even the driver of the other bus asked me where I was going to double-check that I was on the right bus.
When I expected to be met with frustration because of my broken Wolof and lack of understanding of the bus system, I was met with encouragement- even enthusiasm.
Senegalese Society and Culture presentation
my favorite thing about kermit the frog is that sometimes he makes this face
…that awkward moment when I am 100% sure the kids at the pottery studio think the same thing about me…..
It’s days like these that make me remember why I love it so much here!
Spent breakfast teaching a man in my family’s boutique to speak English in exchange for some new Wolof words before heading over to the Pottery Shop, After lunch I pondered life at the top of a lighthouse overlooking Dakar with my friend Annelise, returned to the Pottery studio where I made fun of Amed with Samantha and the kids there (we also exchanged funny face/magic trick/cool talent secrets and laughed so hard we cried!), went on a beignet expedition with Samantha when we needed a snack, and am going to play cards with my friends Kira and Talisa in an hour to finish out a great day!
I feel so blessed.
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
For anyone interested, this is where my URL comes from
Hi all! I hope your holiday season is going swimmingly!
I just got out of my last official French class (next week is just tests in French) and am two classes away from a weekend! Woot!
As many of you know, I spent this weekend in northern Senegal, on a trip provided by the program. It was FANTASTIC!
We ended up taking off middle of the day Friday, in beautiful busses where we actually had enough room! No sept-place for me! We spent most of the ride singing. Half the bus was into it, the other half was annoyed with the half that was into it.
We were in the van for about 4 hours before reaching Lampool, a little town right on the corner of the Lampool desert. There, we had to switch vehicles, because the van’s couldn’t handle driving across the desert! This truck was better able to handle the sand dunes
We were in for a bumpy ride!
But it wasn’t very long until we arrived at our beautiful desert oasis
Just in time to watch a beautiful desert sunset, explore, and take a camel ride before dinner
Once night fell, we had dinner in one of the tents. It was beautifully decorated and we sat on pillows on the ground
After dinner, We all sang and danced to live, traditional Senegalese music around a bonfire- it was magical! The bonfire was completely necessary as it was quite chilly!
Following the bonfire, a couple of us went to the very top of the tallest sand dune we could find. There was a pretty steep drop off on the back of this particular sand dune, and if you ran at it fast and jumped at the last second, it felt like you were flying! Then, the soft sand would catch you. It was wonderful! We stayed out on the sand dunes for most of the night talking, jumping, and generally running around to keep warm.
Dear Friends, I will be in the city of St.Louis, Senegal for the weekend.
I will talk to you all when I come back- I love you!
Earlier this week, I noticed some of the symptoms of culture shock in myself I had read about before coming to Senegal. At first I thought it must just be a bad day and ignored it, but after 3 straight “bad days”, I started to wonder what was going on.
Like most people, I had been informed of 4 stages of culture shock: Honeymoon, Shock, Adjustment, Re-entry shock.
Since I had been feeling very much like I was in the “shock” phase again, I was confused- I thought I had already gone through that weeks ago, especially because I had been enjoying the “adjustment” phase for over a month!
So, I decided to do a little googling. I figured that I would be able to stumble upon some guide to give me tips on how to handle what I thought was a kind of shock relapse.
Little did I know, there was a whole phase of culture shock I was completely missing, and guess what? I”M IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT PHASE!
The phase is called “mental isolation”. When I read different descriptions about it over the course of my googling, I realized how completely they all describe my situation. It’s actually very eery. Anyways, I found a lot of great descriptions, but here is the one I decided is the best, from https://www3.imsa.edu/system/files/The+W-CURVE.pdf
STAGE 4: MENTAL ISOLATION
Even though the student feels more comfortable with the physical environment, new issues begin to emerge. The student may begin to think, “It’s hard to get to know people here”, “No one else feels the way I do”, and “I’m all alone.” A feeling of isolation is then experienced.
This is a critical stage for most students because a “crisis of confidence” may occur due to an actual or perceived notion of intellectual inferiority. This is then experienced as a loss of status: “Things don’t come as easy as they used to”; “I don’t know if I can keep up”; “Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was”. An interruption in sleep and eating patterns may begin to manifest themselves due to increased levels of stress.
Let me tell you, it was a HUGE relief to find out that my feelings were normal. I’m not crazy- i’m just in “mental isolation”. Ok, well, I might be crazy… but I have an excuse for it now!
but in all seriousness- I felt that this was a very important blog post to make because, like my earlier post about study abroad not being all “roses and daisies”, I firmly believe that it is important to let people know about the hard times as well as the good. But more than that, before today I didn’t even know this phase i’m in existed. Knowing about it beforehand certainly would have made me react differently, as having full and complete information often does. But now I do know and can handle myself accordingly. However, if I didn’t know about this phase, I bet you there are a lot of study abroad students out there experiencing this and just thinking they are crazy. You are not crazy! You are just in “mental isolation” with me! (this may be a comforting or terrifying thought. I am a pretty crazy person to be in a stage with…. but it will be entertaining! We shall have fun!)
So, I don’t know what kind of pre-study-abroad/ current-study-abroad readership I’ve got out there, but I figure it’s worth it to get the word out anyways.