Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Since I'm too busy to actually blog right now...

Did I mention we were Orange Jews for Halloween?

YEAH! (I'll come back, blogworld, I promise. Just give me a week.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

La vie Sénémadisonienne!

That was quite a word to put together. I wanted to write a little bit about something that I've experienced, but not fully recognized for what it was yet. The Senegalese culture in Madison is awesome! When I came back from Senegal, I spent a little bit of time embracing America, macaroni and cheese, pizza, streaming videos on the internet, clinging to everything that wasn't my slightly traumatizing experience...and then I spent a lot of time seeking out Senegalese culture. I missed it, which surprised me after everything I went through. It was impossible to find in Chicago, which also surprised me. A city with such a diverse population, I couldn't believe how void of Senegalese food and experiences my hometown was. I gave up eventually, and assumed that moving here, I would meet a lot of hippies (yay!) and a lot of cheese lovers. Well, I found both, but I was surprised again! I found a HUGE pocket of Senegal in my own backyard!

It started out of the blue. I was walking to meet up with my tutor one of my first weeks in town and I got lost. Standing looking confused at a stoplight in the rain, a guy came up to me and told me I looked lost. Well, I was, and I explained to him where I was trying to go. Noticing he had an accent, I blatantly and rudely pointed it out by asking him where he was from. "Senegal" he said "You probably don't know it, it's in Africa". BOY was he in for a treat. I met up with my tutor blabbering on about Senegal (and I'm sure he was excited to realize he had a whole semester of this ahead of him....). The guy I met, Beniba, told me that Madison actually has a pretty big Senegalese population. I still haven't quite figured out why, maybe it's the laid back atmosphere or the fact that we're close to French-speaking Canada, but it's definitely true. So that was weird experience number one.

I'm kind of the "Senegirl" in my program. Senegalese things happen and I'm supposed to know about them, supposed to be excited because SENEGAL. That's not necessarily always the case, but I certainly have been happy to get back into this culture without sleeping under a mosquito net. My program director sponsored a visit to the local high school by a rapper, Webster, who dubs himself "sene-queb", meaning he's of both Senegalese and Quebecois origin. I went to the concert, but had to miss the meals with Webster due to homework. Needless to say, when he shouted in Wolof to the high school French department, I was the only person in the audience who laughed and clapped her hands. Yeah...there goes that girl again....Webster was cool, I liked his rapping, and he seemed like a pretty chill guy, though like I said I didn't get to talk to him one-on-one.

Tonight....tonight I had bissap juice and listened to djembes being played and drank attaya with Senegalese guys. There was a fundraiser sponsored by Slow Food Madison partnered to benefit the Kabillo Community Center in Dakar. While I have to say, they didn't say much about the organizations, I ate some delicious food for $5, and ended up sitting at a table with some really awesome people, Senegalese and American, all francophones. This also ended up being an impromptu "networking event". Throughout the program we have to go to 10 of such events, basically any experience where we can meet people in the professional world, be it a conference, a party, or going out to coffee with somebody. I'm a big fan of the informal type. I had a lot of fun, and now my belly is full of la cuisine sénégalaise, and I've been invited to hang out and have attaya with my new Senegalese friends! A very successful night. The Madison-Senegal link has been an unexpected benefit to living here, and I hope to stay involved in the community for a long time!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain?

That should be snow! Not icky rain!

Well folks, December is finally upon us and it appears that these so-called "Wisconsin winters" started off menacingly and have pittered off into a gross, light drizzle all the time. Don't you worry, faithful Wisconsinite readers, I know it only gets worse from here, but this is just inconvenient. (Also yes, Mom. I did turn on my heat.) I look back fondly on my "first snows" in Chicago. One of my favorite memories from undergrad is walking outside from a party one night with some friends and seeing a light dusting of pretty snow on the sidewalk. Yeah, that was NOT the first snow I experienced here. I will always remember looking outside at my first snow of my Northerner life and thinking "huh. I have no clue what to wear for this." Turns out, the proper response was "an umbrella". I got to class looking as though I had just stepped out of the shower. Strangely enough, everyone else in the class (even the girl from Hawaii) got the "snow=rain" memo, making me quite the sight! But it wouldn't be me if I didn't make these types of scenes, now would it?

As you can probably surmise from my lack of blogging over the past...months...I've started my "grand projet" and my "final project" for two different classes. They're both really interesting to me, and I'm trying to forget that these subjects= 60+ pages of work for the end of the semester and enjoy my research! I'm particularly interested in my grand projet, where I'm researching the situation of people with special needs in developing countries. After meeting with the internship adviser in early October (...wow it has been a long time since I blogged, hasn't it?) we've decided that's probably somewhere along the lines of what I'll be doing in my internship. She's currently researching French organizations which aid people with special needs. Seeing as I eventually think I'll work for a non-profit, I'll be glad for the experience. Plus, France, duh. It has all been very interesting.

Tacky? Maybe. 
Thanksgiving was nice. Sean was in for the whole week, so he catered to my procrastinator tendencies and we decorated the apartment for Hanukkah while I wrote my 15-pages of paper... yes, you can do both! I
did miss my post-Thanksgiving dinner walk on the beach with my family, and Grandma Ina's after-dinner
liqueur, but it was nice to be around Sean's family and feel so welcome in my new home! Plus, the food was good, and that's all that really counts, right? ;-) Highlights of Thanksgiving break (which by the way, was Thursday and Friday for me) also include dragging Sean and his brother to go see the new Twilight movie, and Sean finally starting to get better!

This week I've mostly just been writing my paper and spending an exorbitant amount of time in grammar class. (Double seance! Yeah...that's just what we want at the end of the semester..and extra hour of grammar class...) Also I've spent a lot of time glaring at the wall which conjoins my apartment to the one next door. More on The Loud Wisconsin Talker at a later date...I'm definitely ready for the semester to be done, but also clinging to it in the hopes that I can have more time to write my projects! Plus, I do want to get back to Chicago sometime over break, I miss my family and the city. Wow, if I could write this fast when I worked on my papers I would be done in no time. Yeah....gonna happen...Anyway, I should get back to the grind. Woohoo, finishing up my last fall semester of class ever! (I mean that, no more school after I get my masters degree. NO MORE)