Friday, December 30, 2011

Dreaming with eyes wide open

You know how it is;
You've just had one of those experiences, the life-altering kind. Perhaps it was the amount of time it lasted, the people you were with, the things you saw, or the nature of what you did.  It was everything you felt.
Though of course, there has to be a return to "normalcy". Some transitions are more abrupt than others.
If you haven't guessed yet, I'm already yearning to relive the past 4 months of my life in France. I have issues with dwelling on the past, it's really something I should work on--but it freaks me out, because it feels like a dream.
Fortunately for me, it wasn't! Whether it is acknowledged or not, a part of me has changed. And although I prefer the tangibility of printed photos from film, handwritten letters and souvenirs to remember where I've been, I like that I have hundreds of digital photos that tell stories and Facebook to connect with my friends on the other side of the world.
I'm struggling with identity disjointedness [apparently a real word !].  I can't lie, when I left on December 16th I was ready to jump back into my American life.  There are things you take for granted when you're away from home for so long.  I realized this even more than I did when I left for college!  However, I feel like I'm cheating myself out; I feel like I've lost my 'French identity' already.  It's a mental turmoil, sorry I can't explain it that well.  But like I mentioned, my experience in France is now a part of me whether I can reconcile with it or not.  
These are photos from the last week I was there, the one above is the building where we took our classes.
The cafe I hung out in before political science every Tuesday.
My host family!
La Catedrale Notre Dame de Rouen
Going out with friends and taking advantage of "city life"!
And our ridiculous program group in general.

How do you summarize a trip like this...
It tends to come best in spurts.  At that moment, something I'm doing will trigger a memory of what I've done, then I'll laugh and relate it.  Trying to explain it as one long story is tough.  I just spent the last 1 1/2 actually going through my full set of photos with my parents, and we only made it through 3 weeks of my semester! 
I know people are interested, but it's almost uncomfortable because in general they probably don't... care.  Bad assumption, I know I can't apply that to everyone!!  Haha, the general formula of formality goes, "You went to France?!  Oh my god, did you love it?  How was it?"
How do you answer a question like that.  I'll tell ya---- 
"Yup, I was there for a semester!  It was amazing."
"Yeah, I think I'm fluent in French.  All the courses were in French, it wasn't too hard."
"Yes, the food was delicious... Enough baguettes for a lifetime!"
Cut me off right there because no one cares.  At least beyond that point.

Bah, and I understand!  My parents' eyes were probably glazing over but I have to say that I love them immensely for being patient to give me time to explain everything and expressing genuine interest.  And this blog, it's my other outlet of expression!  So whether you're truly engaged in what I'm writing about or not, I thank you sincerely for dropping by.

Oh la vache, I can't believe 2011 is over tomorrow.  What is everyone doing?

Thursday, December 1, 2011


As a part of my France semester program, we spent a week in French-speaking West Africa : Senegal!!! It was my first time being in Africa, in a developing country, into the Global South... and it was incredible.
So many beautiful things and places to see.
Baobab Trees, practically the national symbol of Senegal.
Traditionally prepared meals, eaten with our hands (did that each night with my host family)
Incredible, arabesque mosques -- this one in Touba being the largest in Sub-Saharan and Western Africa.
New perspectives on religion, beauty, respect, living...

Beautiful people to meet, with spirits and smiles that can't be justified in photos.

10 crazy Americans in Africa.
It was unbearably intriguing to discover which aspects of globalization have been integrated into their culture, and which others are still retained in tradition.  Smoking fish on the beach with wood chips and dried grass, for example, is still done as it was in the beginning.
The end of the week we moved from Dakar (the capital), to farther down the Atlantic Coast to a hotel-resort at Toubab Dialaw.
And yeah, we found paradise :)
And magnificent animals during a safari on the last morning
And the fruit of the Baobab Tree (below)!!!  The refer to it as "monkey's bread", and you crack the giant pod open and pull out this chalky, white morsels that tasted like sour apple... and it made incredible juice.

That's the briefest summary I could supply; I know these photos don't cover up the fact that I have been an atrocious blogger, but I work in cycles :B.  I'm sad to report that I have only 2 week left in France, so be prepared for the nostalgia updates and more photos I never added during my disgustingly long winter break.  I hope you all had a lovely holiday, and talk to you soon!!!

with peace & love,