Monday, December 3, 2012

Senegal: Dakar

A baobab tree in Dakar
Maya Bendifallah ‘13

 What is your major?
 I am studying biochemistry and molecular biology. 
Why did you decide to study abroad?
I wanted to be in French immersion and experience a new, non-western culture.

Why did you choose Senegal?
I have family in France so going there to immerse myself in French wasn't appealing to me, and I had heard great things about the Senegal program and thought it would be a wonderful experience. I also have family in Northern Africa so getting the chance to live in West Africa in a Muslim culture interested me as well.

                                                                         What was your living situation like?
Maya and her host mother
I lived with a host family around 15 minutes walking-distance from my school. My family was small, with a Senegalese host mother and a French host father, while other participants on this program had much larger families whose roles were never really known - everyone was related to someone, somehow... I had a room to myself with a double bed and princess mosquito net, a table and chair, a bedside table, and an armoire for my clothes. We normally ate all three meals together.

Highlights/challenges of the program
I think the biggest highlights included traveling around Senegal and making friends, both of Lewis & Clark and Senegal origin. We spent many weekends going to a former capital with a nearby bird park, an artist colony, highly valued religious sites, and villages, among other places. Some of my favorite activities included kayaking in mangroves in the mid-west of Senegal and making my own wax printed fabric (called batik) in a gorgeous coastal town. 

Gorée Island
The biggest challenge for me was feeling like I was able to fully (or even partially) express myself in French to get across what I wanted to say. I was definitely fluent enough to get by and keep a decent conversation, but to really communicate with some family and friends was more difficult. 

Advice you wish you had been given before going on your program.
My favorite piece of advice that I got (that I am quite fond of) was to expect to be confused all the time. Once you learn that things won't make sense, life runs smoother. 
The Lewis and Clark T-Shirt!

 Additional comments.
One time we saw a kid on the street wearing a LEWIS & CLARK SHIRT! The kids from the program the year before us had brought it and it somehow ended up in his hands. I have a photo too!

 If you have any questions about the Senegal program, you can ask past participants at the Ask An Alum Moodle page by clicking this link.

No comments:

Post a Comment