Barbara H. Padnos International Center
130 Lake Ontario Hall
Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?
A: I immediately think of my Senegalese friends that I made while there. Our jokes, conversations, interactions and those relationships will last a lifetime.
Q: Why did you choose this destination?
A: I believe that to learn another language, it is necessary to study abroad in that language. So most people ask, Why not France? Well, to be perfectly blunt, I don't like France. As a place, sure it's fine. But I can buy a plane ticket today, be there tomorrow and experience France; it is easily accessible. I wanted to go somewhere that was different from other students, and that most people would never think of going to or had even heard of.
Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?
A: Strikes. I knew that the French system had strikes, but I never understood it until I was in Senegal what that meant. The students were on strike for things I thought unnecessary, but if you talked to a student, it was impossible to live without (scholarships for example. Even though several of the students were extremely rich, they still got 150 dollars a month.)
I think what I learned about most was Islam. Spending 9 months in a Muslim culture will force you to do that. Going into it, I knew that Senegal was not a Sharia Law country, but it still surprised me seeing girls in miniskirts going out to clubs.
This was one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had. It is poor, desert-like and developing world, but those adjectives will never describe what I saw. It is a country where people will do anything for anyone, they will take you into their home and give you a meal, they will pay for your taxi fare if you can't. The people I met were more generous than anyone I know.
Q: What are some things you would like students to know about studying abroad in this destination or the program provider you studied with?
A: There is so much to say about St. Louis, Senegal that I don't even know how to begin to type it, but my email is listed. Feel free to contact me and we can talk about it anytime.
Q: What advice would you offer?
A: Go for a year. It doesn't matter where you go, although I would love for you to experience Senegal. Throw yourself into that culture and lose yourself. Your experience will be so much more full if you don't hold back.
Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?
A: Learn French. I am a French major, so I was looking to improve my language skills. I also learned Wolof, a tribal language which will help in my career.
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