This seemed to be the concern on many peoples minds when I informed them how excited I was to be living in West Africa for four months. The truth is, I am 21 years old and frankly think that I am too young to be playing it safe. I wanted the ultimate study abroad experience, basically. Senegal is an incredibly interesting and colorful city with one of the most stable governments in all of Africa. The capital city Dakar, where I will be staying, is home to the best hip hop scene in Africa, beautiful fashion and Dakar fashion week, gripping slavery tales including Goree Island (with the last slave house Africans were in before leaving their homeland), delicious fruit, amazing beaches, millions of people from around the world....do I have to keep going? Though it has some strong points, Senegal has over a 50% unemployment rate and many people are extremely poor. People are upset about their corrupt government system as well because no one has jobs.
This semester will be exciting because Senegal will hold elections for President (the incumbant is extremely controversial) and Senegal will play in the Africa World Cup. Though the official language of Senegal is French, there are many different ethnic groups with their own language. The language for Dakar is called Wolof. So on top of speaking French, i will also be speaking Wolof as well!
Most programs in Senegal only allow you to live in a homestay, which I was apprehensive about for obvious reasons but I decided to suck it up. Now, I am actually extremely excited to move in with my family. Family and hospitality are huge in Senegal and it will be interesting to discuss issues that I might talk about at my dinner table in Jersey with my Senagalese host family.We will see what adventures this country has to offer!!
A few issues I am worried about:
Fish is a staple food-I hate seafood
People do not use toilet paper
Saying stupid things in french
I figure it could be worse. However, if I am going to this country, I am giving my all. I will eat a slab of fish with one eyeball starring at you, I will not use silly toilet paper and I probably will say stupid things in French, English and Wolof. It is all part of the learning experience.
Things I will miss:
The Academy Awards