Category Archives: Julian Life

What Senegal Has Taught Me…

Out and About


It’s August and three years ago (not the exact day) we landed in Dakar to start our adventure here. The first night was horrible and I wanted so badly to not be here but three years later I am thankful for what I’ve learned about myself and what it has taught me.

Dependence- going to a place where you don’t speak the language has a way of making you dependent. As an MK, I prided myself on being independent and having to do things on my own. Can’t do that so much anymore, but being dependent on others creates a community like Dakar Academy. I also learned to appreciate my husband and the wonderful way he takes care of me.

Independence- Wait what? I thought you were dependent.  I am but I have learned that maybe too much.  No language is a very effective excuse, one that I used a lot , but at some point I realized I could take a taxi and go to the grocery store (I would still rather go with Trav but it’s a step).

Heat makes me a horrible person- I am pretty sure my kids are well behaved in class for the most part because I’m so scary during hot season. A little dramatic but true. Hot season makes me a not as pleasant person, which our AC in the bedroom has helped! But nobody should have to sweat just because they are brushing their teeth. Thank goodness after three years it seems to be having a tad (really tad) bit less of an effect on me.

Greetings– in Ecuador greetings are important,  but they feel even more important here. They are a way of giving people dignity by acknowledging them and saying yes I notice you.

Go with the flow- I will always be learning this one and everyone living overseas has to because our flow is different then theirs. Not wrong but different. Learning to go with the flow takes letting go of preconceived ways of doing things and not letting it upset you  (good luck with that!)

I would not be a safe driver here- I love driving in the States. Turn on my radio and cruise down the highway, here not so much. I am pretty sure there would be accidents and lots and lots of anger.

I am actually tougher then I thought- Honestly, moving to Africa was terrifying. I (and my parents) weren’t sure how I would do. We didn’t know if I would be able to survive (heat, smells, etc…). I survived and signed up for two additional years. Who knew??? Travis was a huge part of that and unexpected visits to see family helped too!

Blessed- I am blessed, so incredibly blessed. Blessed to be doing what I love.  Blessed to be surrounded by great people. Blessed to have been here three years.




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Currently my whole immediate family, including my grandma, are in Chicago and I’m here in Dakar. Boo. The statement “give an arm and a leg” fits perfectly. But I can’t do that so I’m coping. Here are some of my effective and not so effective methods. You can decide which is which.

Ice cream- makes you feel better any time! Magnums would be acceptable too.

Do something- we helped our friends unload their container. By we, I mean Travis and I pretended to be helping!

Check Instagram and Facebook- check to see how much fun they are having, what food they’re enjoying and how adorable my nieces are.

WhatsApp them-just so they remember that your missing and still a part of the family.

Listen to Ellie Holcomb on Pandora-singing along and remembering a bigger picture.

“Shop”- the container mentioned above included a box for us with clothes I had ordered (and other good things like coffee). I felt less sad after seeing and trying them on!

Skype-makes you feel a little bit like you are there.

Cry-haven’t done this yet (maybe a tear or two) but it seriously does help.

Coping is something we all have to do and I’m happy my family gets to be together, but I’m still working on the me not being there part.

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A World Cup Eulogy


The World Cup has crowned its champion and left us. The World Cup was our summer saver, a daily source of entertainment,  and 92+ hours of something to do in the summer. It was a get together catalyst- McCombs house, Ballards house, Walkers house, the dorm, the beach house, and a restaurant. It was a chance to cheer together (or not). It gave me the chance to feel Ecuadorian again,  to cheer for my tricolor, my home. It connected me back to a place I love. It also gave me a chance to cheer for the red, white, and blue. A chance to believe! It was an opportunity to cheer with or against Travis, adding to our marital bliss or strife. There was controversy (Suarez, penalties and red cards) and hours of discusson. It gave joy and cheering. Goals and memes galore. It gave tears and sadness and if onlys (aka Wando). It gave us a connection to the world around us through the beautiful game of soccer. Gracias World Cup Brazil 2014.

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Our Kitchen Hierarchy

Travis and I really enjoy cooking together, mostly because I don’t like to be in the kitchen by myself and Travis likes to cook. It’s a win-win! We also love watching cooking shows so lately I have been thinking about what roles we would have if we ran a restaurant together. Here’s what it turned into to:

Untitled design (3)

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Filed under Food, Julian Life, Kaylyn, Travis

Summer Plans

We heart summer over here in the Julian household! The sleeping in, the freedom, the being together, and the beach/pool! This summer we are staying in Senegal, which is a little sad for my heart, but is also restful. Are summer plans are as follows:

1. Taking summer courses. Travis and I are excited about our chance to take classes this summer. (Yes, we are nerds!) We are each taking two courses to renew our teaching license. They are classes that are really interesting and applicable to our teaching. I am taking a class called Creating a Respectful, Responsible Learner in your Classroom and I am loving it. Travis is taking a class called Igniting Creativity, Comprehension and Collaboration Through Inquiry, which is exactly what he wants to do in his classroom! We are thankful for this opportunity.

2. World Cup. I am pretty sure that Travis would put this as number one on the list. He figured out that if he watches all the games (which he plans to do) he will have watched 96 hours of soccer, not including overtime. Needless to say, he is pretty excited. I am rooting for Ecuador and any South American team. Travis is cheering for the USA and any African team. Should be interesting!

3. Continued physical therapy and staying fit. I will continue to go to physical therapy and work on my knees. I will be going once a week, which also means Travis and I can have a coffee date downtown, unless the World Cup gets in the way! Also, I want to try to get in shape again, which can be hard to do when I can’t do anything high impact. I found a website called fitness blender that has tons of workouts (cardio, arms, abs,…), including low impact cardio, all for free!

4. Rest and relaxation. We are planning on going to the beach and/or the pool when it is unbearably hot. We also have a beach trip planned with friends, which will include spikeball, good food, and games. I am planning on reading lots and lots of books!

So here’s to a great summer, even though there is no Subway or Starbucks!

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My Knee Saga

I have a love hate relationship with my knees. Love because I need them to walk, hate because they don’t work the way they are supposed to. My knee sage started when I decided I liked to play volleyball in middle school. I continued to play through college, where the years of playing and my families’ history with bad knees started to catch up with me.

It wasn’t bad though until I got to Dakar and had to walk up so many stairs and it just kept getting worse. It eventually got the point where I could no longer walk up stairs without pain and I can’t run or play sports. Also, my right knee makes the worst creaking  noise when I straighten it out, not normal. Spraining my ankle, didn’t help much either! I went to the doctor earlier in the school year and he said there wasn’t really much to do except  start physical therapy and let my knees rest. I started going to physical therapy which has helped, but there are still good days and bad days. I have been doing exercises to strengthen my quads and have been stretching a lot.  I still can’t really play any sports, but after going to physical therapy all summer and being off my knees, my doctor is going to reevaluate me. For people that know me, I like to play sports and I like to exercise so this whole knee thing is throwing a wrench into my lifestyle. It has been a humbling experience and has taken my identity of being an athlete away, but I am learning to be thankful for what I have like being able to walk and not having to have surgery. Here’s to a summer of my knees getting better!

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bringing blessing…

Our school’s national staff are an important part to having our school run smoothly. They do so much for us and allow us to do our jobs without thinking about cleaning or electricity. This year the Student Senate had the idea to bring a blessing to our national staff by throwing a carnival that their children could come to and enjoy. The national staff has a Christmas Party, but there was nothing for their children. This was a  way to bless them through blessing their children. Travis and I volunteered to help because I can’t resist little kids. There were games for the adults and the children alike to play, someone donated to have a bouncy castle, face painting, and lots more. It was fun to see them enjoying themselves and to see our students being a blessing. At the end, there was a meal and a short presentation. I felt honored to have been able to help and to show my appreciation for all that they do. Hopefully, they left feeling blessed and encouraged, just like I did.

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Filed under Dakar Academy, Julian Life