Living with a Host Family

C’est difficile.

Mostly because I want to retain some semblance of self-respect but I think that they must think I’m an idiot.

We did end up eating dinner from a communal bowl while we sat on a mat on the floor, and everyone did eat with their hands. Except for me, to whom they gave a fork and knife.

I finally understand how 白人 feel in Asian restaurants. It’s actually quite a sucky feeling to be given a fork and a knife.

Later, I found out that laundry is done on Thursdays. Since I have barely any clothes because of my backpacking plans, I had to do laundry tonight otherwise I’d have no clean clothes to wear tomorrow.

I basically ended up hanging it on what could be considered the inside of the house, though the laundry belonged on the roof. I know this sounds like barely a mistake, but when she told me to be sure to clean the bathroom floor when I was done, and repeated it to make sure I understood, I just felt so honteux and stupide.

Finally, there’s a bit of a language barrier. I need everyone to speak in French slowly, and for them to repeat what they say in order for me to understand. I also have trouble saying what I mean without a 5-second pause in the middle of each sentence.

Okay, honestly, I think I just need to relax. Part of the tension comes from the fact that I am Asian American and I wonder if there are any stereotypes in Senegal about “les chinois” about which I don’t even know. If I am any different than previous homestay students, I am afraid that they won’t chalk it up to individual differences but to my ethnicity.

But they probably aren’t observing me as closely as I am observing myself (or maybe they are..) and they’re probably really forgiving of mistakes (but what if I’m making egregious offenses).

I guess this a chance to break out of my comfort zone. Nnnngggg so uncomfortable. Got to accept that I can’t avoid offending and that being as awkward and jumpy as I am being now is SUPER AWKWARD.

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2 responses to “Living with a Host Family

  1. What you’re doing is amazing! I think the family is just trying to accommodating of you. And don’t feel so self-conscious, I’m sure the other students are in the same boat as you are. Give it time, you’re doing great :)

  2. Awesome. Being humbled sucks sometimes but it’s really worth it. Don’t worry – your host family is probably not judging you. Obviously you’re different and they wouldn’t have expected you to do everything perfectly on the first try, anyway. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you’ll adapt really well.

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