Saturday, November 10, 2007

Classes and cooking with friends

This was the first week of classes and OH BABY are they crazy!

I went to some classes, mostly in the sociology department. You dont have to sign up or anything. Just show up and leave if you dont like it. If you do the assignments and take the tests, youre in the class. They might be harder than I expected, especially being completely in French and a little Wolof. I already have homework, which I should do today. Theres one teacher that reminds me exactly of an old high school teacher, Mr. Moore. Hes animated and a serious academic. He even calls the students ¨citoyen¨- citizen.
I was frustrated by this educational system. Some of the classrooms arent posted, teachers dont show up, and weve even had one strike last friday. The students were allowed to skip class to go to a general assembly and listen to leaders talk about their greivances. I realized, however, that like everything here, I just have to roll with it. Be grateful for the breaks, and get most of my education outside of the classroom. TIA. Im not sure how my credits will transfer to madison; but I know that I have to load up on the classes here to get equivalent amounts of credits.
Im taking classes like The Sociology of Development, The History of Africa, The History of African Thought, Problems of Social Development, Economic Geography of Africa and Senegal, but my schedules not set, and Im one who does like certainty. I want to start taking dance classes too.

While Im here, I have to do a fieldwork research project. For my major, it has to be something pertaining to Peace Studies or Conflict Resolution. Im thinking about writing about the conflict in the southern Casamance region of senegal, and how it is negotiated by local actors. Id like to learn how organic, microscale solutions to conflict can be applied globally. This means that I have to travel to Casamance, which is pretty stable and even a little touristy now, and interview people. I want to get started on this now; but dont know how/where. Prayers. I think Ill go over our winter break, after the Muslim holiday of Tabaski on the 21st.

Im meeting more and more new people. The girls on my floor are super rad and we hang out a lot and go to the Resto together. My roomate is super nice but its true, she does sleep a lot and studies hard. Thats good motivation for me.
I made friends with Lamine who owns a boutique where you can buy laax, a yummy porridge stuff. Hes so nice and I sometimes go and sit with everyone there and chat and drink Cafe Touba- a strong sweet coffee. I made friends with Rene, who is the president of this ¨secret society¨called GASS in one of the guys dorms. They have ¨5 Minutes of Folly¨every so often where they do things like tie up goats in classrooms and play their djembes in the cafeteria. Its pretty hilarious. I made friends with Madame and Soughna, two girls in my dorm, both of whom are married with children living elsewhere. Madames husband is a UN peacekeeper on a mission in Lyberia. Theyre both like older sister-moms to me. I made friends with Maggé and Omar, two of my favorite people here. They both love philosophy so weve had some great conversation. Last night I made chai tea for them and they didnt like it because it wasnt sweet enough. They appreciated it though after I poured sugar in. It was so great, we watched Islamic music videos from Nigeria (hilarious) and drank my favorite tea and ate gluten free cookies. Holla. I made friends with my neighbors Thioro and Binette, who I introduced to the wonders of Cold-Eez. Those are more necessary than I thought here in Africa. Theyre good people.

This week has been blistering hot. The evenings are getting cooler and cooler though. I went on a run at 6 am and felt overheated when I came back. It was good to be out though. I feel like Im slowly getting energy back.

This morning I went to the market all by myself and bought the neccesary parts to make ngalaaax. It was so fun to ¨waxaale¨or bargain, with the vendors, especially because Im learning more and more Wolof. We are plannning on having a Thanksgiving feast here with the Senegalese.

I was washing my laundry in a bucket this week (holla to Ann and Brenden!) and I realized that I now sympathize with foreign transfer students. I worked at the international office of admissions at madison (holla Jane, Margo, Emily, Erica, Heidi, Nesara, et. al!) and now I really know what it feels like to 1. enter a new culture and 2. To enter a place where people already have established relationships and routines.

This week has been full. Im going to go back to my room and attempt to cook. Excitement!


casam said...

I love your blog, because I can hear your voice in my head. Also, this way I'm not missing out on any part of your life. When you talk about the fun things you're doing with all your new friends, I feel such happiness for you. Just know that you're in my heart, and whenever you think of me (and the other batcavers), it's like we're right there with you.

Miss you and love you :)

Steve said...

Mei Mei,

There seems to be a little problem with facebook...whenever I log on using my username/password, it accepts it and takes me to YOUR facebook profile, where I can modify it. I left you a little status message, but won't tinker with anything else. Please check to see if your username/pass gets you to my facebook account.

Love ya,


Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetie,
I'm glad that you're feeling better and making friends. Having someone to relate with always makes new experiences less daunting and it's always nice to have those inside jokes when you're stressed :)
I cannot tell you how much I miss you and Love you. I completely agree with Casam about hearing your voice in my head... and it fills my heart with happy. Hang in there, you're doning great!

Love your sister

Kaitlin said...

Alright, I want to see your final field project when it's done. And you've seriously got to introduce me to Wolof, because I can't even imagine what it sounds like. Take care. Love you so much dear.