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So let me tell y’all about this amazing thing that I found in Togo, sleep. When I got to my homestay, I learned quickly when I would go to sleep and when I would wake up. Staying up until 10 PM is an absolute struggle now. By 8:30, your eyes start getting low, and your head starts nodding. But something that is even more shocking than that… guess what time I wake up willingly now? 5:30 AM. That is insane, for me at least. I always knew I was a morning person, but this is amazing. I wake up at 5:30 to the roosters crowing (the most aggravating thing in the world) and someone in my homestead sweeping. I walk out of my room every morning and look around to find everyone up and getting things done. I go and speak to my mom in her kitchen and my day begins. It’s always the same greeting, and frankly, I love the routine:

Me: Bonjour
Her: Bonjour, ça va?
Me: Ça va très bien! Et toi? (No need to use vous… I know right! It freaked me out too at first)
Her: Tu as bien dormi?
Me: Oui, oui, très bien! Et toi?
Her (finally answering my et tois): Oui, oui ça va.

And just like that, the day has begun. Well rested and already warming up my French for the day. It’s a nice system that brings a smile to my face every morning. As I walk back to my room, I see my host sister sitting and I hold up the peace sign and she waves me off, sticks out her tongue, and rolls her eyes (that’s our relationship now).

So that’s my 10 PM to 6 AM Farendé life, but so much more happens during my 6:01 AM to 9:59 PM time frame. I’m going to pick out a few that I love the most to share with y’all, but trust me, there are many more. (Also, since my next blog post will be about the projects, I will omit any activities dealing with the projects from this post). One of the most fun things that I’ve done here is going out with my sister and mom to draw water from the well. When I followed them around the corner to the well, I couldn’t wait to look inside to see how deep it was! I looked in, and they all started laughing at my face because “uhhhh let’s not slip” was the first thing that popped into my head, and my face showed it. They handed me the bucket and told me to go ahead. I started drawing the water, and everybody was looking shocked and confused. So of course, now I’m confused… like…. what’s going on? Then my mom said in French, “how are you pulling it so fast? Is there even any water in there???” So I looked down at the bucket and…. lol…. I threw the bucket back in and let it get lower and lower until I could feel the tension in the rope. Then, I start yanking again. This time I got the same look of confusion and the same questions. Except this time, they realized that I was a former football player and from that moment, I became the water drawer for the family haha. Also, I got that job because I tried to transport a full basin of water on my head like my mom and sister, but that wasn’t the job for me. Words of wisdom: know your weaknesses.

Other than drawing water, we play card games, soccer, or just sit around and talk. I was very nervous coming into this program because I have only taken 3 semesters of French, all at Duke, with my last one being 203. I was nowhere as good as my peers, so I came into this program worrying about comprehension and responding. However, spending time with my family here really helped me develop my French especially learning cool phrases and much easier ways of asking questions other than the infamous est-ce que or inversion. While I was improving my comprehension, I could learn more and more about the members of my family, how and why they do things the way that they do, all while having fun. These conversations and games have been the highlight of my trip. Because of those conversations and interactions, my sister and I have the peace and eye roll type of relationship, and my host mom and I have the “let’s take everybody to the center of town and dance on Saturday nights and have a lot of fun” type of relationship. Some of the best laughs that I have ever had has happened right at that centre sociale with my mom and a few others. It has definite been great so far!

Well, that’s all I have for today. Until next time, à toute à l’heure!