RebeccaT's Travel Journals


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Living Routes Senegal Fall 2009

Living Routes study abroad program in Senegal, Fall 2009 (September-December 2009)

First Week in Senegal

Senegal Dakar, Senegal  |  Sep 07, 2009
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 I am settling in pretty well here. We eventually managed to buy some toilet paper (they don't use it here; they just use water). And I'm getting used to the cockroaches... 

(This entry was adapted from an e-mail I sent on September 7, so I am posting it under that date even though it is now October 8.)

I am settling in pretty well here.  In my family I'm staying with Ruthanne, another American student from Florida.  She doesn't speak much French and the family doesn't speak much English, so I'm doing some translating.  (The family also tends to talk to each other in Wolof, which neither of us understand.)  We each have our own bedroom, and there is also a bathroom (toilet room and separate sink/shower room) that seems to be just for the two of us.  (The toilet is a normal toilet like in the US.  Apparently some of the host families have something that's basically a hole in the floor.  I haven't had to use one of those yet, although I imagine I will eventually.)  The family also has at least two or three TVs, a DVD player, wireless internet, etc. - not really what I was expecting!  But they all eat from one plate, tend to wear traditional clothing (especially the women), etc.

We eventually managed to buy some toilet paper (they don't use it here; they just use water), and we're drinking bottled water for now.  And I'm getting used to the cockroaches...

The first week we mainly did orientation activities.  We had a tour of Yoff and a brief one of Dakar.  Our first Wolof class was on Saturday, and today (Monday) we had Sustainable Development and French.  The Senegalese students have English and computer classes when we have French and Wolof.  The courses we have in common (Sustainable Development and the theoretical and practical parts of the projects) are in Frenglish/franglais.  The main language is English, but there is also some French thrown in by the professors and the Senegalese students.

On Sunday I went to the beach with most of the other American students.  It's pretty nice, except there is a lot of trash everywhere.  It's quite hot and humid here.  (Not my favorite weather...)  I've gotten some minor sunburns, but nothing too bad so far.

It's Ramadan now, so most people are fasting.  They don't eat or drink all day, and they also don't smoke, etc.  They get up around five in the morning for breakfast (and then go back to bed for a while) and the fast ends at sunset, around 6 or 7pm.  Our families still feed us during the day, but apparently things are a bit more relaxed than usual since everyone is tired.

I have a Senegalese name now, Yacine.  And my host family's last name is Lo, so that makes me Yacine Lo.  (We all have Senegalese names that our families either gave us or had us choose.  Sometimes our American names are difficult for them to pronounce.)

Ba beneen ('til next time).

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