The last few nights I have slept just a few hours because my brain is so wired with all the things I need to do before thursday! Aparently this is what I have been thinking about during the early hours of the day.
Apart from being in Spain for a summer during university a few years back, I have only really lived in the south of England. Up until now it has never crossed my mind that my main identity is ‘British’, maybe back home it was the scatty or slightly strange one, I can’t really remember now! But coming to Dakar, where there are many many nationalities all living together, I’ve very much been in the minority. I really enjoy it, but it does make me wonder how important nationality is. Whether it is or isn’t, this is what I have noticed so far about ‘Britishness’.
- G&T’s. Maya is always telling me that people become more like their stereotypes when they leave their country. I never drank Gin or Tonic in the UK, but now theyre my drink of choice. This is partly due to the rumour that it helps to avoid mosquitoes, and I’m all about avoiding malaria. Aparently G&T’s are a british thing, who knew!
- I didn’t realise I had such a prominent accent. Especially after spending a full day with Americans yesterday I can hear it now! Normally when first meeting someone they know straight away where I’m from. Certain people ask me to say ‘hello poppet/governor’ which I’m not sure are common phrases, but maybe just not in my circles!
- My American friends say some things soooo wrong. I know it shouldn’t get to me but sometimes, ok most of the time, the teacher in me comes out and I repeat it the ‘correct’ way. Certain friends love bugging me about it. My level two book was American which is great for the students, as they have my accent in the classroom and American accents in the listening exercises. With the pronunciation and different vocabulary it sure is helping me as a teacher.
- Being on time. Not in time. Naturally I am on time all the time, which i think is mostly due to my father. Things are blurred these days, and being late doesn’t bother me now. Uh ohhhhh
- Nothing can beat a good roast or shepherd’s pie. Thank you Mr North for being our source of good british food in senegal. I will never forget your shepherd’s pie before beer pong. For a while i have also been craving cider and pimms. Take me to the pub!
- I feel most comfortable going to the back of a clear queue and waiting my turn. Often here you just sit/stand anywhere and try to acknowledge the last person. Picture me at the beginning of my time here with my awkward british politeness and my lack of French and wolof trying to successfully get to the front of the queue. It would take a while!
- Things are much more direct here. To be honest, I don’t want to know when I’ve put on weight, that’s best kept to yourself love.
- Dating. From what I’ve seen in the UK things are much more subtle, men normally ignore you for weeks. But here it seems that men say i love you as soon as possible. I honestly can’t tell what I would prefer.
All I can say after all that as much as it is interesting, nationality doesn’t define you. It’s not the be all and end all, it’s just one part of you. Having said all that I’m looking forward to my little holiday in the homeland very soon with perhaps a new set of eyes. Or I will just come home and enjoy my cider and my queuing. Most likely the second.