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Accounting for the time difference, precisely 36 hours ago I was on my parents’ couch in posh suburbia, petting my poofy-haired dog and watching HGTV. Fast forward to now, and I am sitting at a desk in the main dorm of l’École Nationale d’Economie Appliquée in Dakar, Senegal.
For many Americans, Senegal is just a spot on a map—though for some that spot’s location is a mystery—something I realized while staring at a flight map through sleep-heavy eyes on a plane some 12 hours ago.
From the crack I had left open in the shade of my rounded window, the sky seemed impossibly dark outside. Pulling up the shade revealed a familiar web of stars in an unfamiliar position. At the horizon, just below the wing of the plane, were a set of three stars I vaguely recall knowing the name of during astronomy lab in Fiske Planetarium at CU three years ago.
Sitting at this desk, the West African capital city of Dakar has only barely gained more life than a spot on a map for me. Jetlagged and uncertain, I have yet to leave the school’s compound.
What I know is that I had a breakfast of bread and Nutella, a shower with no curtain, a toilet with no paper (yet), and puddles of muddy rain and piles of trash surrounding the rear of cafeteria building.
But none of this change of convenience has curbed my excitement to be here. This seems the same of the few dozen other U.S. students in my study abroad program. Because really, as the back-lit Senegalese silhouette I passed in the hall of the dorm told me, “It’s a beautiful day out.”
There are twinkling stars on the horizon whose names I have forgotten or have yet to learn.
Molly Maher is a longtime contributor to the CU Independent, and will be sharing her experiences during her semester abroad in Senegal with the CU community.
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Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Molly Maher at Mary.email@example.com..
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