From Host Family Hostility to…

It was only two weeks ago that I was curled up on my floor wishing I could GTFO of this country. I’ve already spent a few posts detailing the difficulties I’ve had with my host family. But ever since I got past that last hurdle, it’s been… nice.

My relationship with Awa, one of the maids, has deepened so that when she says, as she does often, “tu es gentille, tu es mon amie,” it no longer sounds like a blague. She saved me a great dinner tonight, and demonstrated how well she knew me by showing off all of the vegetables she’d put in the sauce, and ladling for me extra pieces of gherkin. She even pointed to two papayas and brought out an avocado, and told me that if I wanted something, I just had to ask her. She still makes fun of me (gently), telling me I had to sing Lula Nex as a goodbye cadeau for the laundry lady, or saying that I had to grow a jaayfondé before I left (I’d said I’d already started), or that I had to marry a Senegalese man. But she told me that she liked me better than the previous host student (! finally a positive comparison) because the other one had stayed in her room all the time and didn’t understand French, while I communicated with everyone and had paid enough attention to relationships to take care to bid adieu to the laundry lady.

I was so happy. To top it off, Marie’tou offered me half of the papaya she’d been eating. Then, when I finished it, my host mother asked me to accompany her to the bank! We talked the whole way there and I got plenty of French practice. Today was the 6th anniversary of her husband’s death, which meant that there was plenty of ceremony and visiting relatives. I found out that he was a senator and later an executive in the company at which they’d met.

One semester is truly a short time. It took me almost all four months to become something more than just a boarder in the Sall household and I understand why one is recommended to stay a whole year. But I’m glad just to have gotten to this point. Sure, I’m still upset that I eat an oily dinner after 9:00. Yet I can’t even imagine how bubble-like my existence would have been here without this experience. All of that previous agony about living with a host family? Even the struggles were Worth It.


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