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“Going to a new country on a continent you may have not visited before can be overwhelming. There’s so much to see, do, eat, and explore while still trying to understand a new culture. That’s why I’ve created this basic “Do’s and Don’ts of Daker” outline to help you ease into your Senegalese surrounding.
1. DO: Visit iconic sights such as Gorée Island, the African Rennisance Monument, St. Louis, and Lake Retba (Lac Rose). These are sights you have to see and places/history you must learn about in order to really engulf yourself into the culture.
2. DON’T: Drink the water. Although some foreign tourists/students do and have been okay, many have gotten sick since they are unused to the water here. That also means being careful of salads and fruits where you eat the skin. If you want to give it a try start with small sips and see how you react to it before downing a big glass.
3. DO: Learn useful phrases in Wolof. Knowing French is great but people really like it when foreigners know some phrases in their native tongue. It shows your interest in the culture here and even if you don’t pick it up quickly people appreciate you trying and will help teach you.
4. DON’T: Start a conversation without first greeting who you are addressing. In Senegal it is considered very rude to speak to someone without properly greeting them first and yes, that includes when asking for directions.
5. DO: Try the local cuisine with your host families. It may be different eating family style or with your hand (right only never left!) but it is a part of the learning, discovering and growing experience. The food may or may not be what you’re used to but it’s delicious and worth trying. Remember, you didn’t travel abroad to eat hamburgers.
6. DON’T: Expect all of the same comforts you experience in your American home. Most families have fans, not AC, and bathe using the “bucket shower” method. Different countries do things different ways but if you go into it with a positive attitude you’ll have a much better experience.
7. DO: Haggle for your purchaces! Haggling is not just accepted but expected in the market and for a cab. If you agree to pay for everything at the first price offered you are going to run out of money very quickly. Be firm but also fair, just because you can get a price down to next to nothing doesn’t mean that you should.
8. DON’T: Assume you have the right of way. Cars have the right of way in traffic and although some will stop to let you cross a street, do not just start crossing and expect for them to slow down.
9. DO: Leave your comfort zone. That doesn’t mean put yourself into dangerous situations but it does mean to try new things! Whether that be a new food, new language, dancing, singing, cooking, just try it! Going abroad is an amazing experience that not everyone has the opportunity to do. Spend your time learning, trying new things and growing as a person. Who knows, you may be an amazing dancer after all!
10. DON’T: Forget that just because something is different does NOT mean it’s bad or wrong. This is not America, certain things are done differently in Senegal but that doesn’t mean it’s backwards or incorrect, it’s just different and that’s okay.”
This post was taken from one of our DIAS student’s blogs: