Study Abroad Spotlight: Year in Senegal

International Academic Programs is thrilled to announce the re-launch of the UW-SIT Year in Senegal program. Students will have the one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend a year in West Africa learning French and Wolof, conducting an independent research project and exploring the unique culture of Senegal through home stays and excursions.

Senegalese Artist
A Senegalese artist describes his work to a UW-Madison student. (Photo courtesy of International Academic Programs)

When asked why she chose to spend a year in Senegal, former student Emily Gaynor replied, “It was important to me to have a fully immersive, life-changing experience, and I knew a year in Senegal would fulfill that for me in ways studying in [other countries] couldn’t.”

Indeed, this program provides ample opportunity for students to delve into West African culture. For the first semester of this yearlong program, students will participate in the School for International Training’s (SIT) program on National Identity and the Arts, based in the capital city of Dakar. This program examines Senegalese identity through the lens of different artistic and cultural forms such as music, hip-hop, and graffiti. In addition to taking classes, students will participate in rural home stays and conclude the semester with an independent research project.

“This is a great opportunity for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience conducting independent research,” says Neil Kodesh, Faculty Director of the African Studies Program who himself participated in an SIT study abroad program as an undergraduate.

Dakar Market
Students bargain at a market in the capital city of Dakar. (Photo courtesy of Christine Donahoe)

Throughout the program, Matt Turner, UW-Madison professor of Geography, will serve as faculty advisor to help students develop their research and identify local contacts. Matt will visit the program site in midway through the year to check up on students’ progress. In addition, SIT staff will serve as valuable resources during the first semester of the program.

After wrapping up their fall semester with SIT, students will move to the vibrant city of Saint-Louis to study at the Universite Gaston Berger. Here, students will expand on their fall research project, enroll in courses and continue their study of Wolof.


Upon returning to UW-Madison, students will have the opportunity to further their study of Wolof. For the first time, UW-Madison will offer courses in Wolof during the 2016-17 academic year. In addition, returned students can apply for a Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to receive funding for further study of Wolof.

Emily Gaynor offers some advice to students considering this program: “Ask yourself if you want to be challenged, if you want to grow, if you can be flexible. If the answer to all these is yes, then you’re in good shape.”

Visit here to learn more about the UW-SIT Year in Senegal program. Applications are due March 25.