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Wedding bells are gonna chime!

So the rumor was true: my host mom is getting married!

I didn’t believe Michou and Mami at first when they told me, since they have a record of pranking me (e.g. telling me they’re going to New York next week, tricking me into eating spicy pimont, prank calling me with strange numbers, etc.).

Turns out this one wasn’t a joke! Suzanne is getting married to a Senegalese guy who lives in France, and after school is out for the kids, the four of them are hoping to move to France with him! Unfortunately for me, the wedding won’t be until the end of May, and I’ll already be back in the States.

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Inchalla

I finally registered for classes yesterday! I am officially still a student at the University of Michigan. I waited for my specific sign-up time (12:45pm exactly), and raced to sign up for the classes I needed for the fall semester so that there would still be open spots in them for me.

The whole process got me thinking about how relaxed Senegal is from the US. I don’t mean that people are drinking daiquiris under coconut trees on a sunny beach all day. Practically no one is at the beach except for guys working out and the occasional toubab. What I mean is that in Senegal, everything happens according to the will of God. “Inchalla”. This can be both awesomely calming at incredibly frustrating. It’s a great point of view when my professor realized he forgot to give us our midterm exam two weeks after we were supposed to have done it, and it was not a big deal whatsoever. If the same thing ever happened in the US we would probably have to make it up A.S.A.P. or do a series of assignments to compensate. But not in Senegal, because that’s just what happens sometimes. It’s quite hard to get stressed when nothing is really urgent, because it will happen when God wants it to happen, and you can’t change that so why not just accept it? But it sucks sometimes too, such as when I hear stories about hospital nurses chatting with their friends instead of rushing to get the job done. It can be frustrating when we visit an organization for a class field trip and we just sit around for an hour before anything happens because people are taking their time. If someone gets hit by a speeding car in the middle of the crowded street, its because God meant for that to happen then.

It’s taken some adjusting on my part, coming from a culture that’s all about being on time and doing things quickly and doing a million things at once before everyone else without considering the mental toll it takes to do all of that. So registering for classes yesterday, a process that required me to meet all of those pressing expectations, was quite the eye-opener.

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New haircut! Michou took me to a corner barber shop in SICAP Baobab where I live. I told him if he showed me where to get it cut, he could decide how to cut it. We walked into a little blue and white room with two big barber chairs facing two large mirrors. The barbers working only spoke wolof, so I didn’t really say much since my Wolof is still dismal, tho I did give it an effort. The guy cutting my hair told Michou that my hair was hard to cut because it grows in so many weird directions. At one point, some guy came in and asked if I was a toubab, which I said I was. He asked then if I was American, and I said yes, to which the guy responded that I couldn’t be a toubab if I was American. I was confused about this, since I thought that “toubab” applied to all foreigners, but Sidy my wolof prof explained that some Senegalese use toubab to only refer to the French, a.k.a. colonizers of the area, and in that sense it’s derogatory. Life lessons from the barber. 

New haircut! Michou took me to a corner barber shop in SICAP Baobab where I live. I told him if he showed me where to get it cut, he could decide how to cut it. We walked into a little blue and white room with two big barber chairs facing two large mirrors. The barbers working only spoke wolof, so I didn’t really say much since my Wolof is still dismal, tho I did give it an effort. The guy cutting my hair told Michou that my hair was hard to cut because it grows in so many weird directions. At one point, some guy came in and asked if I was a toubab, which I said I was. He asked then if I was American, and I said yes, to which the guy responded that I couldn’t be a toubab if I was American. I was confused about this, since I thought that “toubab” applied to all foreigners, but Sidy my wolof prof explained that some Senegalese use toubab to only refer to the French, a.k.a. colonizers of the area, and in that sense it’s derogatory. Life lessons from the barber. 

Wedding!

Last Sunday, my Wolof professor Sidy celebrated his new marriage!

We were only invited to the party, the actual ceremony was the weekend before and sort of happened quickly. But the party was tons of fun! We sat around for hours and talked to Sidy’s family and friends, as well as Emily, who is a former student of Sidy’s from the US and is doing research here on a Fulbright. We ate some GREAT meals in the traditional style, around one big bowl and with our hands. We also saw the gift-giving ceremony, where both families exchange gifts with each other and give them to designated family members.  Griots (spiritual leaders) announce what the gifts are and to whom they are going. There was lots of yelling and pointing on both sides of the family, but Emily (who is practically fluent in Wolof) was telling me that is was all good things and compliments and thanks.

All in all, it was a fun night and we laughed a lot and met some entertaining friends, and it was so great to see our teacher so happy with his wife!

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My choice

So I’ve decided, after 3 months of living here and lots of intense journaling and blogging about my experience, that I’m going to stay the rest of my life in Senegal. I just love this country so much and I can’t stand to even think about leaving my cool African life behind. I just feel so changed. I will not be coming back to the US in May, and hopefully my host family will be willing to adopt me. Sorry mom and dad.

A+ (or maybe not)