My summer home in The Gambia after a semester in the states

NdeyKumbaDembaOne thing I have realized during the course of the summer break is that summers are more valued the U.S. than in my country The Gambia, West Africa.

Summer in the states means a lot of things, which includes adventure, fun, letting lose, relaxing, trying out new things, work, and “family vacations. While most people in The Gambia may not have the luxury of going on adventures or family vacations, the idea of fun, letting lose, relaxing etc. is true to both.

Living in the U.S. an entire semester for the first time this past spring has presented many challenges for me.

Firstly, it was difficult being far away from home and my family. One thing I realized is that being away from family can do two things for you: it either motivates you or demotivates you.

Secondly, the learning systems were different and I had to learn how to use Blackboard and access my courses online.

Thirdly, the food was most different of all. I tried out new delicacies; some I liked and some just made me want to puke. So going back home for the summer was great; an opportunity to return to some familiarity.

The greatest thing about my summer was returning home having “seen both worlds”, I like to call it. I was more than eager to tell them about my “America stories,” for those stories never loses an audience. A lot of people are eager to know about the U.S., mostly due to curiosity aroused by movies and books.

They would love to see and experience it for themselves, but until then, tales from people who have visited and stayed there are just as good. This gave me plenty room to fake an accent, which I think sounded ridiculous and exaggerated my stories.

The snow was a must-tell story. I told them about how one time I missed the bus and had to walk home in the freezing cold without a winter hat. It was so cold that I couldn’t feel my ears. I had to touch them occasionally to confirm they were still there. My legs were so stiff that I thought they’ll fail me any minute. The looks on their faces were shock and pity, and what I think was an expression of imagination.

The second most shocking tale to them is how people don’t often greet. You hardly find a person who says “hi” in class, and when you meet somewhere on the school premises, you’ll be lucky if they a cast a smile in your direction. I told them about how you can talk to someone in class one day and it will be like they have never seen you the next day. This is shocking to them and more so me. Back home, everyone greets, it’s considered very rude not to. You know the names of everyone in your class and the entire school is like one big community. That’s a feeling of belonging I miss greatly.

So, I have adapted to the culture of not greeting. I’ll save my greeting for when I return home, but, if you greet me, I’ll be more than happy to respond.

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