Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What I do all day.

I thought that I might give you, my readers, something steady to stand on when it comes to understanding where all of my ranting and raving comes from. That would be, my schedule (in a vague sense).

Each week I take classes at WARC, the West African Research Center, which hosts several study abroad programs in Dakar, and from IFEE- L’Institut de Français pour Etudiants Etrangères., which is a section of L’Université Cheik Anta Diop, or UCAD. All my classes except Wolof are 3 hours once a week.

My classes consist of the following:
French Grammar Review
History of Islam in Senegal
History of the Senegambia
Gender and Development in Senegal
French-English Translation, Level 3

I had planned to take at least one course at UCAD proper, along with the other, normal, Senegalese students. Unfortunately, the system proved too difficult to navigate for an outsider. I would venture to guess it’s difficult for most insiders as well. I made a good effort to attend a African Literature course, and two weeks in a row the professor did not show up, although both time hundreds of students sat waiting for the entire length of the class. The first time that this happened, I learned when I got home that there was a strike at the University that day. But the second time is still unexplained.

Strikes in the universities here are frequent, usually in response to the inadequate number of classes for the volume of students enrolled. I feel like U.S. universities haven’t had a good strike since the 60’s, but apparently it’s still commonplace in other Western countries, like France, as well. I’m not sure if Senegal picked up the practice from France or if the system here works poorly enough to incite students’ anger time and again.

After sitting through a couple of classes with no professor, I thought that I might like a little striking too, especially if I was paying for that class specifically and needed it to advance to the next level of my degree program.

Why the university works the way it does is a mystery to me still, and I won’t venture a guess into its inner workings. Let’s just say that the final product isn’t a well-oiled machine and there appears to be more organization within departments than throughout the university as a whole.

If this entry is any evidence, my English spelling is slowly disintegrating. I hope that means my French is getting better.

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