Life in Dakar

May 30, 2018 | Kaylea, Psychologie, Uniterra Sénégal, CNC, Conseillère en Archivage

It’s been 3 weeks since I first arrived in Dakar, Senegal and wow, it has been a whirlwind. The people I’ve encountered here so far have been the kindest people I’ve ever met. Every time I walk down the street, I’m welcomed by a “hi, how are you?” by those passing by me. Being a foreigner here has been a fantastic experience so far. While there are not a lot of foreigners in the region I live in, I always feel safe and welcome as I walk home from work, or down the street to buy vegetables from the local vendors.

The food here is delicious. There is a boulangerie on every street that sells fresh baguettes every day. The traditional dish here is called thiebou jen, a spicy stuffed fish simmered with vegetables in tomato sauce. A major staple in the senegalese diet is rice, accompanying most dishes. In my region, goats and cats fill the street. Sometimes a wild dog will show up, but they mostly stay on the beach.

There are mangoes and flowers growing everywhere along the city streets. The national tree, the baobab is protected and undisturbed by the growing city. Often, you will see baobab trees in the middle of a street, left untouched by the construction going on around it. The city is brought to life by beautiful flowers, and the screaming goats heard from miles away.

While the traffic can be heavy, the taxis never have a hard time weaving their way through it. Taxis are very popular here, you never need to go far to find one. Dakar is a large city, however, it never costs more than $3 Canadian to get from one side of Dakar to the other.

At my work, we get a two-hour lunch break each day, normally going out to a restaurant. My colleagues seem to be thrilled to have us here! Unfortunately, I arrived at a bit of an inconvenient time, as the company received a lot of different interns for the summer and is also being evaluated at the same time. So, I haven’t yet started on the mandate of my internship. However, my colleagues have given me plenty to do (translating, planning what work I will be doing, etc.) in the meantime.

There is a lot to see in Dakar! Even though I have only been here for just a few weeks, I’ve seen a lot. There are tons of amazing beaches here, three islands, and a ton of historical landmarks. Collines des Mamelles, a massive renaissance monument located at the top of Dakar, is the tallest statue in Africa. One of the islands, Île de Gorée, is home to 1,500 habitants, and contains one of the most esteemed boarding schools in all of Africa!

French is my second language and my minor at school. I chose to come to Senegal because I knew the official language was French, and I wanted to practice. Luckily, the French spoken here is very easy to understand as it is spoken slowly and well pronounced. The locals are also very understanding and patient. If I don’t understand something, most people repeat, explaining in another way. My French improved a lot in the short few weeks that I have been here!

So far, my experience has been incredible. Between the kind people and amazing food, I don’t want to leave!

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