Dakar: Experiencing Francophone West Africa in Senegal August 15, 2018

By (Grand Valley State University) - abroad from 05/23/2018 to 07/08/2018 with

Academic Programs Abroad (APA): Dakar - Summer Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I greatly improved my grasp of the French language, which was my main academic goal in choosing this program. First-hand experiences in the African context were also extremely valuable to me in expanding my worldview.

Review Photos

Academic Programs Abroad (APA): Dakar - Summer Program Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

APA is an organization that prides itself on a high quality of academics, and I felt that they held us to a high standard as students. Professors were brought in who were extremely knowledgeable on their topics and had a variety of resources necessary to complete assignments.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I felt like a member of my host family from the first night and stayed extremely involved with them. I would highly recommend that future students do the same, both for language acquisition and cultural understanding. The only thing I had a problem with was how far away it was from the university (20 minutes by foot), but APA has made it important to find closer housing for the future.

* Food:

West Africa is known for great food and Senegal is no exception, especially if you like fish and well-seasoned food!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Due to the amount of contact that I had with my host family, I felt very integrated with local culture and felt connected to a way of life outside of what I was used to.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had an issue with an antimalarial drug (doxycycline) and the healthcare that I received was affordable and effective. There are some vaccines that are definitely necessary, but APA makes sure that students are vaccinated before arrival.

* Safety:

If an American student uses common sense and is sensitive to Senegalese customs (not photographing people without permission, dressing somewhat conservatively), they should rarely have problems in Dakar.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Living in Senegal is a (in my opinion) much more interesting way to learn the French language than in Europe.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

The cost of living is comparatively cheap in Dakar to the United States, the most expensive things for me were tuition and flights.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~10000 CFA
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If possible, walk to class instead of taking a taxi on nice days! It adds up.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 300-level French classes
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Talk to your host family all the time! Don't stay in your room, engage in discussion with others as often as possible.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Food
  • Culture
  • Local friends and family
* What could be improved?
  • Location within Dakar
  • Local language skills (Wolof)
  • Costs
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had prepared myself more for learning Wolof before departure, it would have helped a lot to have a base for the language.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'