Wednesday, April 21, 2010

t-minus four weeks

Four weeks.  I'm actually not sure what this countdown "means," only I can't help thinking about it.  Here's what it might mean:

Only for more weeks until...

...I will return to being unremarkable when I walk down the street.  I won't get hit on or honked at with even half the frequency I've gotten used to here in Dakar.  I will no longer be a "superstar," as Ousmane describes it, and I will no longer have "all eyes on you" (another Ousmane phrase).

...I will no longer be able to go outside and immediately find all kinds of street food within a few steps.  Like cafe touba, toasted corn, jaff (peanuts), fresh fruit and veggies, cookies, and thiakry.

...I will return to a land that serves coffee in big cups, not little plastic ones.

...I will no longer watch the "PUB" (publicite) announcements swirling across the TV screen every 20 minutes, before and after every advertisement.  I will be able to watch movies--and watch them in English.

...I will return to drinking tea with milk and honey in the mornings, and not Nescafe.  I will eat whole-wheat bread.  (So many other dietary changes...)

...I will no longer eat dinner outdoors, in the courtyard, around a big communal plate with a fluctuating number of my brothers and sisters; no longer hear their jokes and stories.  I will no longer hear Wolof spoken regularly, for that matter.

...I will return to where everything is green.

...I will no longer have warm, sunshine-y weather, all the time.  I will no longer have to take malaria pills, either.

In front of the Bay Fall fabric for sale in Saint Louis

I write all of this so that you might understand how conflicted I feel about returning to the States, to home.  To help with this understanding, you should consider reading some of the myriad impressions of my fellow study abroad students.  I've included links to their funny and fabulously-detailed blogs below.

In no particular order:

We're all sorting through our experiences here in this simultaneously public and personal medium.  For me, it's been a strange process of self-discovery through self-presentation.  And, of course, to remember--but I keep a separate diary for that.  I hope to present Senegal to you, but present it with my personal "slant"--the way Emily Dickinson says to tell the truth.

1 comment:

  1. Slant Truth! Love the hidden 469 shout-out. We all miss you here. Laura, Emma, Kate, Austen and I finally took a trip to Lady Olga's together. We had a blast -- confessions of secret crushes, breast-size surprises, and photographic evidence. We were so sad you couldn't be there, which just means we'll have to do it again some other time, when you are around.

    I love all of your photographs from Dakar. Also, I read your post about having a string of bad days and not wanting to go out. I just want you to know that everybody goes through this. After spending lots of time in China, I'm well aware of how annoying it is to not have the same mobility that we are accustomed to in the states (even though New Haven isn't the safest of cities) and how tiring it is to be stared at on the street (I blend in in China but my white friends, with whom I tended to spend a lot of time, drew looks to themselves and also to me.) Hang in there -- you are almost home! And don't put too much pressure on yourself to "make the most" of your time there. It looks like you've already had an incredible, immersive experience. And the best cultural experiences are the ones you don't look for -- they find you.

    Love from Yale -- where it's reading week and we are madly procrastinating. Jialu