Back to College Off to Sénégal

It’s that time of year again. All the big box housewares stores are festooned with banners proclaiming the start of the fall semester. Get your dorm supplies here! Grok grok! Isn’ that th’ store whare ya git th’ sekint heds o’ hair? Grok grog Just a minute. [Frooooog! “Git” back into “yer londree baskit!”] Sorry about that. Yes, I have escaped from the laundry basket and reclaimed my blahg. Anyway… This year, we are not shopping for collapsible laundry baskets grok grok or beer can wastebaskets hic or cute little hanging storage units or brightly colored shower totes. The list for Sénégal is a little different. Many of the items make sense, others I am scratching my head about, still others are almost certainly not needed by this particular student, and I don’t see yarn or knitting needles anywhere so somebody must’ve screwed up. After six stores and a close encounter with the Wind-up Woman, we had made a small dent in this list by about noon and were absolutely, totally, utterly exhausted.

Suggested articles of clothing and other items:

  • Comfortable, sturdy, all-purpose shoes for class and walking, suitable for deep sand.
  • Two or three sweaters — make sure one is heavy
  • Jacket
  • Bathing suit
  • Flip flops (can buy there)
  • A couple of dressy outfits for special occasions, clubs, etc.
  • At least one pair of dressy shoes or sandals
  • Plenty of cotton underwear and bras
  • 1-2 long-sleeved shirts
  • A few pairs of jeans (no holes or frayed hems)
  • Workout clothes (goggles, sports bras, shorts, etc., if you use them at home)
  • Women: lightweight cotton skirts, dresses, pants, blouses, button-down shirts, T-shirts and tank tops. Maybe one or two pairs of shorts for hanging out and going to the beach.
  • Men: lightweight, wrinkle-free pants, one or two pairs of nice shorts, button-down shirts

Hygiene and toiletries

  • Basic toiletries to last the year (or at least 1 month)
  • Towel and washcloth. These are considered personal and homestay families will not expect to provide them.
  • One year supply of condoms and other birth control supplies.
  • One year supply of tampons or pads. These are available here but are expensive.
  • Tylenol, Advil or favorite pain reliever. In Dakar these are expensive.
  • Vitamins
  • Aloe vera
  • Sunscreen, Blistex
  • Mosquito repellent (containing DEET)
  • Band-aids, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide
  • Thermometer
  • Sturdy water bottle (when traveling or commuting)
  • Tissue paper
  • Toilet paper, at least one roll for the first two weeks and then buy the rest there when needed
  • Yeast infection medication
  • Antibiotics, Pepto-Bismol (check with physician for best treatment for diarrhea)
  • Cold/sinus medicine
  • Neosporin or another antibiotic cream for open cuts
  • Contact solution (cannot be found there)
  • Anti-itch cream for mosquito bites
  • Fiber supplement or dried prunes (with the local diet, constipation is common)

Other suggested items:

  • Study Abroad Handbook
  • Sénégal Program Guidebook
  • Academic plan, major/minor course requirements to plan your courses in Dakar
  • Recent edition of your school’s course catalog
  • Contact information for your registrar, advisor, and financial aid office
  • Your resume on computer disk and hard copy for internship applications
  • French/English dictionary
  • An American Express card in your name (handy for receiving packages and buying traveler’s checks)
  • An international Mastercard, Visa or debit card
  • Extra pair of glasses or contacts and the prescription in case glasses are lost or stolen
  • A few extra passport pictures
  • Battery-operated alarm clock
  • Pocket calculator (for calculating exchange rates)
  • Small sewing kit
  • Wet wipes or liquid hand sanitizer for travel when there is no running water available
  • Flashlight (can be pocket size)
  • AA batteries
  • Small photo album with pictures of home
  • Recent edition of travel guide: Lonely Planet or Rough Guide books are great
  • Money pouch (those that you wear around your neck or under your belt are handy)
  • Reading material, stationary, lots of U.S. stamps (you can send along letters with people who are returning to the states)
  • Deck of playing cards
  • Small combination lock
  • Map or atlas of the U.S. — a great conversation piece
  • 1 to 2 boxes of quart-size Ziploc bags
  • Umbrella
  • Blanket for your bed (it can be very cold at night)
  • Laptop computer

4 Responses to “Back to College Off to Sénégal”

  1. Webmomster Says:

    “StationAry” or “stationEry”? (I know, quibble-quibble :twisted:)

    Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc. Sounds like our trip to China!!! Although I didn’t need any Atlas, I just used my HAND to describe where I come from 🙂

  2. jane Says:

    stamps? so you can send letters back? what about email? does anyone write actual letters any more?

  3. kayak woman Says:

    I think that students who’ve been to Senegal contributed a lot of the items on the list and I doubt that the spelling was heavily edited. It’s a pretty good myth that K college kids are any smarter than anyone else 😉 Some of the stuff seems a little odd. I mean, I think it’s wise to take *some* over-the-counter medications but I couldn’t help thinking that most people use a *lot* more of that stuff than we do in our family. And the kids are given prescriptions for malaria meds and Cipro, which I *do* think they should have. Those are not on the list.

    As for email vs. letters. I do expect Mouse to use email rather than postal mail. One of the things that has to be considered though is that the kids stay with families. Electricity is an expensive commodity and they are expected to be careful about using too much of it in their homes. And then there’s the matter of an internet connection. I doubt you can just go down to the beach to get online in Senegal 😉 So, they will likely have to communicate via email from school or internet cafes, etc. Mouse will be fine with all of this. I have to admit it would drive me absolutely totally utterly NUTS! 🙂

  4. Aimee Nassoiy Says:

    What fun to read this list.
    Way too much cotton on it for my African experience. We say a dryer once in two months. . .so those nylon underwear, which you can dry on a line in your room were really wonderful.
    the bit about the toilet paper and zip locks is for real.
    Can’t get zip locks in Africa, but you can get lots of bugs and moisture.
    TP is a luxury anywhere, carry your own, or go without.
    OTC medication. . .might as well bring it, don’t count on buying it. . .including Petol Bismol and Imodium and such. If you never need to use it thats great. They’ll be someone you can donate it to before you leave.
    I also recommend the small packets of Emergence C. . . or Gatorade, electolyte balanced in case the traveller’s revenge leaves you fluid and electrolyte depleted.
    An umbrella was a cheap, light, defense against monsoon rainstorms and sun, again you can find a willing taker to leave it behind.
    The map of the US. YES! It is great to show people where you live, and those photos from home are greatly appreciated
    A lock seems prudent. People in need, with differing cultural norms might want to help themselves to your stuff at times.
    Bring extra batteries for flashlight and camera
    We sewed money pouches into our bra’s as well, a couple stashes can be a good idea, but Mouse will be with a group
    I’m very excited for Mouse’s travels!
    ps We found out that it is a nice gesture to buy stamps from the country for your host families to communicate with you after you leave. Senegalese may have more money than Zimbabweans, but I’m sure it would be a sweet gesture anyway
    good travels, Aimee