Predeparture: Enjoying the Snow and learning Malagasy

It’s finally starting to sink in: in two weeks time I’ll be in the air, on my way to Madagascar! My program only starts on the 30th of January, so I’m fortunate to have an extra 3 weeks of vacation to spend with my family. My sister Melinda attends the University of Stellenbosh in South Africa, and conveniently her semester starts around the same time as mine, so we’ll be able to fly as far as South Africa together. This flight plan also means I’ll be able to visit her in SA on my way back to the USA in May 🙂

Can you tell I love snow?!

Meanwhile, while I’m still here in Michigan, I’ve been relishing the wonder of winter and spending as much time as I can enjoying the marvelous amount of snow that fell to earth last weekend – by building “bobsled” runs down the porch stairs, sliding down the banks of frozen waterfalls, constructing igloos, blowing bubbles outside and watching them freeze, and playing broomball 🙂

Frozen waterfalls are pretty cool, eh? Last week I explored Hungarian falls, located near Houghton in the UP. There are some great things to see even without leaving the state!

Now I feel like I can go to Madagascar in a couple weeks without feeling like I missed out on this beautiful season. In fact, the prospect of bare feet and not having to bundle up every time I leave the house is starting to sound quite appealing!

When I’m not playing in the snow, I’ve been trying to learn Malagasy, the native language of Madagascar. It’s been fascinating – the language has Malay origins, but has a definite African feel; the grammar and sentence structure is totally different to any other language I’m familiar with, and although words contains many vowels you rarely pronounce half of them! I’m excited to get to Madagascar and see what the ideal of “picking up” a language that’s around you actually looks like. I’m guessing it involves a lot of frustration! Oh the other hand, I’m feeling more optimistic about French, the other language spoken in Madagascar. I’ve being listening to French radio stations from Madagascar and other French African countries – and so far I’ve been finding the African-French accent easier to understand than the Parisian accent I’ve been taught in French classes! I’m hoping that’s the case when I’m actually in Madagascar too.


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