Today was a rough day. The little moments of culture shock have been slowly piling up in my mind and I'ts really starting to hit me that this is not just a trip, this is going to be my life for the next 6 months. On our way back from an overwhelming and overstimulating market/beach day, some fellows and I decided to stop at a supermarket to see if we could find some comforting snacks that reminded us of home. Our options ranged from ramen noodles to oreos but somehow we ended up with a can of salt and vinegar pringles. Eirik opened the can as we walked along the dark streets to Comico Mermoz, where I live, and popped a chip into his mouth. The initial taste was not what you want when you buy comfort food. The chips were sour and left a bitter taste in our mouths, but we ate them anyways because anything that's not chebbu jen and has a label that's in English is rare and should be treated as such. "After you get past the first few, they really aren't that bad," I said as I reached my hand back into the can. "But isn't that just like anything?" Eirik replied.
And he is right. The first bite of something unfamiliar is always hard to swallow. I have to keep reminding myself this every day here in Dakar because culture shock, like a salt and vinegar pringle, is really sour and has you wondering why you wasted 1000 CFA on a can full of it. When I am frustrated with bucket baths and baguettes and the blistering heat, I have to tell myself, "don't worry, its just the first bite." As I continue to taste Senegal, one crunchy, sour bite at a time, I feel comforted knowing that eventually I will get used to the flavor and the aftertaste won't affect me. I know that by the end of the next six months, Senegal will become my comfort food.
Now, I have a can of pringles sitting on the table next to me because they really weren't that bad after the first few. In fact, I actually really like them now.
Senegal - 2016
Maya is very passionate about travel and human rights. Reading and watching documentaries are some of her favorite activities. She is involved in community projects like running her own book drive. She is inspired most by the people in her life who put others first. Her goals for the year are to become proficient in the language of her Senegalese community and to adapt to a completely new culture.