I’ve been in Senegal for about 24 hours now and I’ve loved every minute! It’s a lot to take in at once and I’m starting to think I’m in the honeymoon stage of culture shock but let’s hope that lasts my entire trip. Through my culture class here I’ve learned a lot of the basic information I’ll need to at least get by in the country. For those who might not know much about Senegal it is a French speaking country but the common language is Wolof, which is an unwritten native language of about 45% of the Senegalese population. French is a language of a bit more status as it is spoken by those who have attended school, although it is not the immediate language of use.
Terenga is the Wolof term for hospitality but hospitality is a lot more significant to the Senegalese culture than the word may imply. Senegalese people believe it is their duty to be hospitable especially to foreigners; they’re very big on opening their homes, greeting everyone in the streets and always having more food or space to offer even if they are a poor family who does not have much. In the little bit of time I’ve been here I’ve already seen this to be true, the place we are staying in for the first 2 days has the door open at all times of the day (except when people are sleeping), there are many people that constantly walk in and out of the house without knocking and there is always someone home. In Senegal women are known as the head of the household and these customs come from the idea that if a mother helps those who walk into her home her kids will always be helped by others (especially when traveling). Families also stay extremely close together, children live at home until they’re married and if they move after marriage it is still walking distance from home.
There is so much I’d like to share already and I will try my best to update this as much as possible; I never had a blog before I studied abroad in Chile and I now can say Id recommend it to everyone traveling. This is not only a great way to share your adventures but also a great thing to look back at whenever you’re nostalgic and want to relive any moment. Many people asked me about my first day but I wasn’t very detailed with my answers because I prefer being able to express everything here first for myself when it’s fresh in my mind and then share the little details with all my sisters/friends/families individually.
But it’s lunch time! Ba Chi Kanam!