For those of you following from home, there is no need to fear. I am definitely alive and safe in Yaoundé! It has been a whirlwind so far. From the minute I stepped off the plane, I have not had a moment where I wasn’t learning something new. We had a few days of orientation while we stayed at a monastery (Le monastère du Mont Fébé). We learned about culture and rules and academics and food and other essentials.
On Wednesday, the culmination of this stage of orientation was a drop-off. This is basically an activity where you are dropped off at a random place in Yaoundé with 5000 Francs CFA ($10 dollars for you curious folks) and given a list of tasks to complete. These included using a cyber café, going to the University of Yaoundé I, and finding the neighborhood of the SIT offices. It was definitely an experience! Before anyone becomes too worried (including you, Mom), we were dropped off in pairs. The two of us walked off in our semi-confidence, prepared as we could be, to conquer our list. We were off to a bit of a rough start when we tried to put minutes on our cell phones. We did not understand the woman, and she clearly did not understand us. Finally, we just left and said we would deal with it later. Then we went to a cyber café. This was less tragic than the first adventure. The main problem was that I had no idea how to use the French keyboard. The letters were in different places. Instead of typing Yaoundé, I would type Yqoumd2. It was definitely a learning experience! Then we took our first taxi ride. A word to the wise: do not ever drive in Cameroon unless you grew up here. All driving rules here are like speed limits back home: they are merely suggestions. We made it to the University of Yaoundé I without any problems, and a nice man helped us hail a taxi to get us to the Institut Francais. Another interesting tidbit, most taxi rides cost 200 Francs CFA here. For you math-minded people and the generally curious, that is just under $0.50. We made it to the Institut Francais and moved on to find a textile shop. We were pointed in every direction, but we eventually succeeded! It was definitely a joyous occasion. My new goal is to buy fabric from that store and get a dress or skirt made. It is going to happen. Just wait America! A fashion intervention via Beccah is headed your way! Finally, we went to a supermarket in Bastos (the neighborhood where the SIT office is). It was great to see the city. It was nerve-wracking and very difficult, but I now have full confidence in my ability to get wherever I need to go.
On Thursday, we met our host families. I am very excited to get to know them and see how they live. So far, they have been amazing! I can’t wait to see what this semester holds.
Until next time, my friends,