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The Boy with the Sunken Teeth

Learning that someone only eats one meal a day is not something that makes me cry.  I’m perhaps the most cynical and hard-hearted social sciences/save the world type you’ll ever meet, except for maybe Falconer. But then I sit and interview a young mom, whose husband is away five or six out of every seven days.  And the kids come to play and ask for my glasses or a picture to be taken.  I always ask them their names and how old they are, and I think I surprise them with formality when I shake their hands hello.  They laugh at me for being 22 with no novio, no esposo, no hijos para mi mismo.  It makes me a little sad to see how skinny and short they are for their ages.  It’s a little sad when for three days in a row, many of them wear the same clothing.  But they laugh and tease me and say cute things, so it’s easy to forget that they’re hungry and their school isn’t very good and they probably will never have a steady job.  One little boy stands right by my side, leaning all over the arm rest.  He smiles a lot but doesn’t talk often, and patientily listens to me trip through Spanish.  He doesn’t wear pants or a shirt, just a ratty pair of underwear, their color undiscernible.  He laughs at me sometimes when I mess up or I make funny faces at him, and thats when I see the inside of his mouth.  From the front, with a formal, American closed-shut smile, everything looks fine and normal. ...

Ten Things No One Tells You About Study Abroad

You will have at least one nervous breakdown. People don’t really want to hear that much about your trip.  30 seconds or less will do. Other countries are really not that scary.  The people are pretty much just like us–they just dress, talk and act different, and eat different food. Some days, it will suck. This is because it is real life, not an extended vacation.  So laugh and keep moving.  Even if you have to fake it, you probably won’t notice when you stop needing to. You will spend too much money. No matter how carefully you pack, you will have brought too much, and still manage to have left behind something you totally miss It’s harder to adjust to life back home at the end of the trip than life away from home at the beginning. Everyone gets in.  Well, pretty close to it. Everyone lies about how perfect study abroad is.  Study abroad is awesome, but not perfect.  I promise, your friends don’t post pictures, blogs or status updates about feeling overwhelmed, having trouble making friends, or being ridiculously homesick.  No one wants to admit “defeat” especially since everyone else’s time seems so perfect.  But everyone is having their rough days, too. You will, in fact, spend the same amount of time on facebook and watching movies/television as you did back home. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click...

You Know You’re a Yovo if…

You think women should probably wear shirts, most of the time You like your roads paved, and with potholes fewer than three feet wide The only thing you knew about Vodoun before Benin came from movies You wear sunscreen and bug spray, have a bug net and carry bottled water everywhere you go You talk about showering more than you actually do it You had never heard of Benin before you decided to go there …but now you can’t wait to go back You don’t wear heels to walk in the mud, but you DO carry your own bag You don’t know how to successfuly carry things on your head You’re afraid to cross the street, never mind get on a motorbike You will probably never attempt to breast feed while carrying something on your head AND riding a motorbike You’ve never authored a “Nigerian Prince” email You refuse to swim in the standing water, and maybe even the ocean water too You eat peanut butter You point and yell (or perhaps whisper) every time you see a Yovo you don’t already know You’ve been kidnapped (in a good-natured, well-meaning sort of way) at least once You’re still annoyed by street harassment You’re taken aback every time people ask if you’re a Christian Your shirt and pants don’t match EXACTLY, and your family does not wear matching clothes Your head has a maximum of two braids at any given time You’re still a little surprised there’s never any cold beer–oh yeah, and you drink “Beninoise”, not “33” People laugh when you eat with your hands You don’t speak Fon,...

de l’Eau

You come in hot and sweaty from a run or yard work.  But there’s no ac.  So you go to grab water, but it’s not safe from the tap, filters are  expensive and it takes a lot of time and gas to boil the water.  You go to the store, but you don’t have a lot of money and the water’s hot anyway.  There is no frige to put it in, because the opower ciosts too much, nevermind the cost of the frudge. So you take a shoer, being careful not to open your mouth.  Then the water runs out, so you use ta cup and a buckey, if you thought to fill it earlier when there was still water.  Of course it’s been stagnant, so there may be mosquitos gathering at it, but it’s what you’ve got. After you pour the water on yourself, you feel no relief because the water’s hot as the air.  You didn’t use soap because there isn’t any, and that would watse too much water to wash off anyway.  You towel off with a small, harsh rag, which only takes a second because you’re already dry from evaporation. Being hot sucks.  Summer is hot.  But in Benin there is little relief.  Everyone walks or takes motorbikes everywhere, there are no elevators, and clothing norms necessitate that you be covered in more than just shorts and a tube top. Therese are just our conditions, in an over-priced hotel run by nuns (awkward..)  The Beninous have no handiwipes or leave-in conditionar, and often no toilet paper to go with their lack of toilet seat.  they...

Benin in Brief

Sory all, but the intenret cafe i’m in has some serious issues, so this is going to be a quick and dirty bullet post; sans photos. sidewalks are treqcherous in Benin, including gaping three foot deep holes into the sewage system which is just stqgnant water due to a linguistic mistake, we have no ac.  This is why it’s important to know the local language! All the Benois students we’ve met have been enthusiastic and so friendly! We bathe often but not thoroughly, and it makes little difference in the fqce of such heat we have bug nets, zhich thankfully protect us fro, the bats as well it is most definiely the rainy season n Benin some of the letters and all of the sy,bols are ,oved aroung on the French keyboard which they use in Benin.  Desolée! there qre very few streetlights and no trqffic lights there qe no taxis; everyone rides motorbikes without helmets I hope to find a better internet cafe soon, or perhaps somewhere with wifi! Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

Foto Friday: Les Citadines

Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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