Although I still have no idea what I will do with myself when my five year contract in Senegal is over, I am pretty sure I will not go back to live full-time in the UK. I’ve just had a week back there (for my OU exam, which went OK), and although it reminded me of how much I love London, I was cold the whole time, not just whilst outside walking in the streets but also in shops, in restaurants and even in friends’ houses. I always hated the cold, but now that my system has adjusted to living in a hot climate I find it almost unbearable – and this was just October, not the middle of winter.
It was, though, a wonderful opportunity to get a bit of culture. I saw my old friend Nuru Kane in concert in Reading (he was very surprised to hear that I am now living in his native Senegal!), and visited the National Gallery and the Tate Modern. The latter visit was in order to see the crack in the floor which I have heard so much about – it is impressive, and I love the symbolism of it. Apparently the artist often uses her work to represent her feelings about the dominance of the West over the developing world, and she feels that this dominance stemmed in part from the generation of power that underpinned the industrial revolution – so to put a giant crack in the floor of the turbine hall of a converted power station in the heart of London must be a wonderful feeling for her! I was impressed too by the Louise Bourgeois sculpture outside the gallery, although the symbolism of that (apparently giant maternal spiders represent the tensions she feels within her family) eluded me.
I also got to go shopping! I returned with eleven books, seven DVDs, lots of food (sun-dried tomatoes, biscuits, cheese, etc) and a load of stuff that is cheaper in the UK than in Senegal, ranging from a saucepan (less than $5!) to toothpaste.
Now that my OU studies are out of the way, I’m hoping I will actually have the time to read books and watch DVDs – as well as to go out and make some friends. I wouldn’t have missed the past year for the world, it has been such a marvellous opportunity, but it probably wouldn’t be accurate to say I’ve enjoyed it. It’s given me moments of pleasure, certainly, but I’ve just been too busy to really have had the leisure to enjoy it. I will be pretty busy over the next year too but without the added pressure of the study I think life will feel more relaxed.