Patience, it’s a virtue I’m learning

OK so being here in Senegal for almost 10 months, I have not only learned a new language and a new culture, but I have learned to adapt and accept many things. Here is a list of somethings that used to annoy me but now I have just come to accept:

– Constant noise – For some reason I think the Senegalese are afraid of silence, they always have to have some noise around, if it’s not the TV blaring, while they are talking to each other, then they are playing music from their cell phones. Now you’d think that things would quiet down when the power goes off, well unfortunately no, they just sit around playing games yelling at each other or scream greetings to their friends who are passing on the street. I used to be bothered by this, but after constant screaming out my window for them to turn down the volume with no avail I just put in earplugs (something good to send if one is thinking about a care package) or my Ipod and go on my merry way.

– Listening to the same song over and over and over and … – I don’t know what it is, but it strikes me that when a Senegalese likes a new song they become obsessed with it and decide to play it on constant repeat. For example, yesterday my sister-in-law came across a new song (which mind you was popular back in the US about 5 years ago) and decided to play it on her cell phone on repeat. Since it was on her cell phone and she kept moving around the compound the song just followed her and there was no escape from it. Also, unfortunately my room is across from hers, so when she was in it I could hear the song and then when she went outside to be with the family, she decided to sit under my window. After about an hour or so I left my room to try and get away from the song only to see that she left her phone in her room, repeating the song, and she went out some where. So as with the constant noise I decided not to get upset and I just put my Ipod on and rocked out to my music which I didn’t put on repeat 🙂

– Different standards of how one comports themselves – The Senegalese are NOT dirty people by any means, I think they bathe more times during the day then I’ve seen anyone in the states. However, picking your nose, and I don’t mean discreetly, I mean really getting up there, while you’re sitting around talking to everyone, doesn’t really bother any one here. Or, after a meal talking to someone and burping out-loud mid-sentence, people don’t even bat an eye at that. Also, the men here do not see anything wrong with walking down the street holding on to themselves, entering a compound, and greeting everyone while still holding or scratching themselves. At first I used to be taken aback by it but now I just look away or try to disregard what they are doing. Oh and also make sure they wash their hands really well before putting them in the food bowl.

– No concept of time – In Senegalese culture people value relationships over time so when you set a meeting for 3pm, most people probably won’t show up until 4pm. It’s not that they can’t make it on time, it is that while they are on their way to the meeting they will run into about 20 different people whom they know and will stop and exchange pleasantries for a few minutes with each person. Coming from a culture where one is raised to be punctual it is very frustrating when people will not show up at the agreed time. How have I learned to deal with this is, 1) For a meeting I would like to start at 4pm, I tell everyone that the meeting time is 3pm and 2) I bring a book with me where ever I go, you never know how long you’ll have to wait for.

These are just some differences that I have noticed and have learned to adapt myself to get around. Before starting this experience all of these things would have annoyed me to no end and I would complain about each one; however, knowing that I can’t change everyone around me to what I deem is “appropriate” I have learned to change myself 🙂


One Comment on “Patience, it’s a virtue I’m learning”

  1. I’d like to share that for points one and two I feel I might be Senegalese. I also like to have background noise on, all time time, such as Law and Order. And I can play the same episode over and over, espcially when I’m not even in the room. I feel like a kindred spirit to your host sister.
    Love you!

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