Université Gaston Berger
St. Louis, Senegal
Jenna Carlsson is majoring in sociology with African studies as a minor at UC San Diego. She is interested in learning about people, different cultures, and social issues. She also loves photography, film, food and music.
The most popular questions she has been asked lately is: “Why did you choose to study in Senegal, of all places?” She writes:
Well, to start, I have been learning French since middle school and I knew that I should take advantage of the amazing opportunity to study abroad in college. Together, these two factors heavily pointed to France, but for some reason, my heart just wasn’t in it. I came to realize that more than simply practicing French, I wanted to go abroad to learn about another society, another culture that perhaps could offer something that I was not getting from Western, particularly American, society. I wanted to learn about another part of the world. And West Africa was a perfect combination – I could practice French, be immersed in a culture very different from my own, and learn about this huge and diverse continent that Americans truly know very little about. So off I go to Senegal… to become fluent in French with a Senegalese accent, to stand out as a white girl in a nearly completely black country, to listen to amazing music, to squat in hole-in-the-ground toilets, to be an atheist Jew in a ninety-five percent Islamic country, to get to know great people, and to come down with malaria. I am excited.