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)

Pre-Semester Blog Entry: Introduction

United States Vermont, United States  |  Aug 27, 2009
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 Hello, world... I thought I might start by admitting that I'm not really sure what to think about this whole blogging thing... 

Hello, world.  By way of introducing myself, I thought I might start by admitting that I'm not really sure what to think about this whole blogging thing.  Honestly, if it wasn't an assignment, I would probably never write a blog.  It just seems strange to me to write a journal that anyone in the world can read.  I always thought that the point of a journal or diary was to have a safe, private place to explore one's personal thoughts, feelings, and reflections.  And I certainly don't want the whole world to know everything I'm thinking and feeling.

I'm also a little concerned that, once I get to Senegal, blogging could get in the way of my experience.  I might spend too much time on the computer, thinking about how to share my experience with my family and friends and prospective Living Routes students and the rest of the world, and not enough time actually living the experience.  And I might concentrate too much on creating the kind of reflections that I feel I can share with everyone instead of really reflecting on my experience in personal ways.  

That being said, I can see some advantages of blogging, too.  It might be a good way to share my experiences with my family and friends without getting overwhelmed by a multitude of e-mails and letters and phone calls.  It might help me to reflect - even if I don't post my most personal reflections - and it might help me learn to sort out what kinds of lessons and questions I can share with others in order to pass on some of what I have learned.

So I guess the bottom line is don't be surprised if I don't make a lot of entries over the semester.  But who knows; maybe I'll decide that blogging is actually something I enjoy.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Anyway, now that I've gotten that out of the way, I guess I'll talk a little about what's happening in my life now.  I'm both excited and anxious about leaving for Senegal.  (I think pretty much everyone has these feelings before leaving on an exchange program.)  At the moment I'm leaning more towards anxious/nervous, mainly because I have a lot of stuff to get done before I leave and not much time in which to do it.  I'm also pretty distracted, for personal reasons that I won't go into here.  But I don't doubt that this will be a great experience.

I know this experience will not be easy.  I know I'll have language issues and culture shock and get homesick.  But I'm somewhat less nervous about all that because I've had a similar experience before.  In high school, I studied abroad in Paraguay through AFS.  I originally planned to go for one semester (six months), but while I was there I decided to switch to the year program and stayed for about 10 and a half months.  My exchange in Paraguay was truly an amazing, transformative experience.  I have many unforgettable memories from my life there.  I grew a lot personally, and I still miss my Paraguayan family and friends so much it hurts.  

I know my experience in Senegal will be different, probably easier in some ways and harder in others.  Perhaps it's foolish to feel like I'm “prepared” for this after my experience in Paraguay.  I know there will be new challenges, and some of the same challenges probably don't get easier with time or experience.  But I can't help feeling a little more confident this time.  

In any case, I don't doubt that I will have plenty to learn from this new experience.

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  • User Profile Photo
    Dad waved at RebeccaT's journal Thu Sep 10, 2009
    do wave
    Enjoyed the pictures, Rebecca. How are the classes going (en Francais)?
  • User Profile Photo
    Wynne Phillips wrote: Wed Sep 2, 2009
    Hope you had a safe trip! Can't wait to hear all about it.
    Aunt Wynne