Many of my imaginary readers haven’t been asking me why I chose to go to Dakar, Senegal, all places? I mean, if I wanted to practice my French skills, I could have just as easily gone to France or Switzerland or Belgium, since they all speak French. Or Canada. But I mean really, who wants to go Canada, of all places? HahahaHAHAHAHAhahaheheha. ha. Haha. Right. (*raises hand slowly*)
I chose Senegal for a slew of reasons as well as bunch of gut feelings that I can’t really articulate. Here’s a list on the ones that I can.
1) I don’t know anything about Senegal.
I’ve read/been taught plenty about European history and the French revolutions and so on and so forth. However, before going on this trip, I knew little to nothing about Senegal, or Africa as a whole really. And that makes it exciting for me! (as well as making me upset about the American educational system).
2) Warm winters
Senegal is on about the same line of longitude as Honduras. 75 degrees in January? Oh sure, don’t mind if I do! Drink some pop on the beach? Well, if I HAVE to…
3) The classes count!
I’m not just taking random filler classes abroad, oh no. Pretty much every class I take will count towards my International Studies major. A+ for productivity!
Because the cost of living in Africa is relatively lower than the shamefully high cost of living in Ann Arbor or Paris, a semester is Senegal should prove to be a bit cheaper than a semester in Europe would be. Now I don’t mean that the program is cheap. It’s still quite a bundle of money. BUT because it’s during the semester as well, I’ll get to spend my summer working to gain back the money I lost! Yaaaaaaaayyy……. :/ (or you could donate a bit to help me out! See the upcoming post!)
I want to emphasize too that I am going to Dakar to take classes, learn about Senegalese culture, and in general explore an area I haven’t been to yet. I do want to share aspects of my culture with the people I meet, but I am more concerned about learning from them and less interested in spreading Americana around Africa.
So after reading my first post, my mother kindly pointed out that I did not explain the purpose of this blog. Oops. Silly me. You think that’d be kind of the first thing on the to do list…
In mid-October this past year, I was selected along with just 4 other students from the University of Michigan to participate in a 5-month study abroad program in Dakar, Senegal, located on the west coast of Africa. The program is technically through a partnership with Michigan State University, which makes my Spartan-headed sister very happy.
While there, I’ll be taking about 15 credits of humanities and social science classes at the West African Research Center (WARC) at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, all of which will be in French, although what classes exactly I won’t know until I get there and sign up. At the same time, I’ll be learning Wolof, which is one of the native languages of Senegal and the one predominately spoken in Dakar. I’ll be living with a host family (who I won’t meet until I get there…yikes!), going to classes (which are 2 blocks from the beach!), and touring the city/country, all while speaking French! This is my first time crossing an ocean, as well as my first time relying on only speaking a second language.
IN SUM: the next 5 months are going to be quite the adventure!
Asalaamu aleykum! Bienvenue mes amis! Hi there everyone!
My name is Jason LaFave (pronounced “luh-FAYve”, and the capital “F” is vital!). I’m a sophomore undergrad at the University of Michigan, hoping to major in International Studies. I am also pre-med, so I’m often dreaming that maybe one day I’ll casually get into a medical school somewhere on the west coast so I can become that pediatrician I want to be.
Most of you reading this blog are, I’m assuming, family and friends who want to make sure I’m behaving while I’m away (Hi Mom!). If you are, feel free to skip the rest of this intro info if you want. If you are not, read on!
I come from a quaint little town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan called Escanaba, which has many aspects that I sometimes love passionately and other times loathe entirely. I grew up on the always beautiful Lake Michigan with my family of dad and mom (Jeff and Karen) and my two sisters, Michelle and Stephanie (honorable mention to my brother-in-law Ben!). I met my adorable boyfriend and best friend, Brian, at the start of my freshman year of college, and I have to say that I love him boatloads for being so alright with me leaving the country for 5 months!
Things I enjoy include but are not limited to reading, hiking, biking, skiing, camping, traveling traveling traveling, green bean casserole, the color green, Halloween, singing, and theater. I’ve been trying to enjoy running since I was in middle school, but it’s been an on-and-off kind of relationship.
I’m out of things to talk about already, and I told myself I would go to bed 2 hours ago. Feel free to message me here or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions/thoughts/concerns/hopes/dreams you may have! More posts/things to come!
Jàmm ak jàmm! Au revior! See ya later!