A Day in My Life as a Fulbrighter, Six Months In
6:10: alarm goes off. Snooze.
6:20: alarm goes off. Snooze..... Upstairs neighbor’s 6:30 alarm goes off. Get up, make the bed, and head to the kitchen
6:30 - 7:20: prepare and eat breakfast, meditate, get dressed, pack my bag
7:20: run downstairs, greet the doormen, weave through traffic to find a taxi
7:22: debate with the taxi driver over the cost and if I actually know where I’m going (spoiler, I do…)
7:30: hop out of my taxi, greet the gatemen at LCA, and walk to the teacher’s lounge. Greet the kids who greet me, even when I’m positive they aren’t English students (I’ve had German students try and sneak into my classes) Try to inconspicuously shake the sand out of my shoes.
7:45 - 11:30 latest: teach! Sing songs with my kids! Get a free period because the students are on strike. Teach them tongue twisters. Review grammar lessons! Watch skits. Grade oral presentations! Discuss anime. Give impromptu lessons on bystander intervention! Introduce Black History Month. Every day is different! And it is delightful.
11:35: Leave LCA but not before greeting my adopted mother, who is convinced that I don’t have enough avocados in my life and insists on giving me one each day.
11:35 on: Some days after LCA I head to the US Embassy for the gym and to check in with my bosses. Other days, I go straight home to work on personal projects. But more recently, I’ve been spending my time at 1949Books, a women’s reading room in Yopougon, an expanding suburb of Abidjan. 1949Books aims to help young Ivorian girls see what they can be by housing a library of African and Black female authors. I fell in love with the space and its owner when I visited in the Fall, and now I volunteer there! 1949Books is truly a space of my heart and I am incredibly grateful to be able to volunteer there.
5/6/7 whenever I get home: I cook and eat or go out for dinner.
Mandatory Food Photo Dump:
Weekends are varied here. Sometimes I go city exploring and check out art galleries or new neighborhoods, other times I stay in. I’ve become more of a bar and lounge gal, but still pop by clubs in Zone 4 from time to time. I go to the movies, wine and paints, get my nails done, shop at the market (I’ve been adopted by a woman named Madam Bagayoko) I hang out with my friends, go to brunch, and even host small parties at my house.
As I mentioned in my “A Day in the Life as a Fulbrighter Three Months In” post, my life here isn’t wildly different from my life at home. I get up, go to work, spend time with my friends, and come home. There is one distinct difference, however. Here in Abidjan, I don’t have to think about my long-term plans or commitments. There are no exams to study for, no need to shmooze and build a network, no managers or partners to impress. There is so little of the nonstop grind that plagued me in the US; the constant, voracious appetite to in some way “surpass” my present self by doing, winning, or somehow achieving something “greater.” That hunger for achievement serves a meaningful purpose at times but also forces me into rigid habits that, frankly, are soul-crushing.
Most days in Abidjan, I have the luxury of doing whatever brings me the most joy. I see this time as sacred, but as we move into the seventh month, I cannot help but look towards the future. In those fleeting glances, I see a return to the accolade hungry version of myself I’ve worked so hard to tame while here. This is not to say I don’t value that version of myself; I wouldn't even be here without her. There is no shame in ambition, but if I leave here with anything, I hope it is the bravery to be as dedicated to my rest as I am to my work.