I’m coming home now, which I don’t think my mind has fully grasped yet. It’s a strange thing to have something you’ve anticipated for so long actually happening; I feel quite sad though am also excited. I’m not sure what to expect once I get back home- before leaving for Mali, I recall thinking that I probably wouldn’t miss my friends and family, which was not true at all, so who knows at this point.

Overhearing people’s conversations in the airport has been odd- I’m now accustomed to listening to people’s voices, but not understanding much of what’s being said. This white noise was a comfort, and I feel like a sneaky eavesdropper hearing English conversations. Someone bring me some ear plugs!

I’m very tired right now. I’m also feeling cold. Washington D.C. and then Seattle (my family!!!). Here are some things because my mind is unorganized.

Excited to: eat an avocado, get warm clothes fresh out of the dryer, not always feel like someone’s watching me, play cello, not eat rice every day, have a general sense of what’s going on at all times.

Will miss: the vibrant colors, the invariable call to prayer, delicious fresh bread, sunshine, the clear night sky and the bright stars, the greetings which are wonderfully sincere and extended, my family, my neighborhood, the challenges and the discoveries.

 

Things I’ve seen change about myself:

  • I improved my handwriting by a lot; handwriting is serious business in school here
  • I’ve become a much heavier sleeper thanks to Mr. seemingly nocturnal Happy (the goat) lodging directly below me
  • My Bambara skills have vastly improved; around November my family decided that my Bambara was passable enough for them to speak it with me all the time (very untrue), so, I’m quite proud of my speedy advancement in the fun-to-speak language. Example: Billybillyba means large, but you have to say it really quickly to be understood.
  • I’ve become more relaxed, or maybe just lazier. “Sit down, drink some tea, let’s talk a bit…” It was difficult for me at first to slow down my pace of life, but now I have to set aside an entire day to get a pretty simple task done.
  • I feel much self-responsible after staying here, and also believe that I’m better at accepting failure; both of these things were large parts of my day-to-day life in Bamako.
  • I can carry a big bucket of water on my head without spilling any, which is very tricky. You got to do what you got to do, though.

 

I do have one request: the posts from this blog will now stop coming, but I doubt that I will stop learning from my experience any time soon. I have so many misconceptions and stereotypes to unravel, and am brimming with stories, thoughts, and realizations. I wish that the people who are reading this, if they have any questions at all about my experience of Mali or studying abroad, would please approach me with your questions. I have so much to say! Granted, it is a definite possibility that I will not leave my house for maybe two days once I get home, but afterwards, let’s talk. Thanks for reading all these months, and hopefully you’ve learned some stuff about Mali vicariously through me. If you ever need some Bambara lessons, I’m your girl.

 

The Hot ToMALIs and our host families at the airport in Bamako- lots of tears! A truly incredible semester for all of us.

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