I remember touring colleges as a senior in high school. Every tour guide and admissions counselor touted their colleges’ excellent study abroad programs. The statistics were off the charts–50% of juniors go abroad or nearly 80% of this year’s junior class studied off-campus. Great, I thought, Obviously I’ll do the same. Three years later, when it was finally time to make a decision as a sophomore at Kenyon, my thoughts were more or less the same. Everybody goes abroad. The people that don’t? Lame. Afraid. After all, I am a French literature, Anthropology double major. We are globally minded. We are supposed to do these types of things.
With these notions blindly leading the way, I set about choosing my program. Going to France as a French major? Psh. Typical. Europe was decidedly not for me. Having previously studied various parts and aspects of Africa with great interest (and keeping my language requirement in mind), I looked to the vast continent with a population of over a billion people for answers. I narrowed my options down to a program in Senegal and a program in Madagascar–two nations with French as an official language. I eventually dismissed the Senegal program after a friend referred to it as a “white kids in Africa kind of deal” due to its vague focus. Madagascar it was. Continue reading