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Old 10-15-2012, 06:39 PM
 
Location: Claremont, CA
7 posts, read 11,445 times
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Hi all,

My university has provided me with funds to live and work in any African city of my choice next summer (think June-July-August, give or take). I am now faced with the decision of selecting a city in which to live for two to three months. I'll be working at a nonprofit organization, to be determined by the city I live in. I'm aware of the more touristy cities, but I'm approaching the situation through more of a brief expat lens (live, rather than visit). My criteria:

-Large number of French speakers. I've spoken the language for eight years and it's time to put it to use.
-Arts and culture. Not so much performing arts, but I love the music and cinema scenes that urban areas have to offer.
-Good nightlife. I'm not necessarily into clubs, but I music venues, restaurants, bars, etc. Doesn't have to be the most vibrant ever, but it should be a presence.
-Transportation ease. I won't have a car, so whether it's walking, biking, bus, or whatever I'll need to get around.
-An established professional community. Again, I'm not necessarily looking for a city on the global scale of, say, Johannesburg, but I'd like to do some networking while there. Probably the least significant category though.

That's pretty much it. Safety, obviously, is a concern, but I'd rather live in a more vibrant, less safe area than the other way around. And aesthetically, I feel the same way: it can be a dirty, polluted city, but if there's people to meet and experiences to be had, I'm there.

Any and all advice is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:55 PM
 
Location: Canada
4,698 posts, read 8,485,551 times
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Hmmm, I think Casablanca could fit the bill. I haven't been myself, but it's proudly Francophone, the industrial heart of the Maghreb, it's the region's largest city, and there's good universities and professional enterprises there. There's alot of money in the city, about 26 thousand dirham per capita, so I would expect there to be some decent amenities and services for you to be able to use.
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:11 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Kinshasa would be the focus of African music. Some wonderful genres, far off the boring world-beat path, with 1950s African jazz still very popular. But probably a hellhole in most of the other respects you have mentioned

I thought Douala, Cameroun, was a lovely, tropical place, but you'd probably find the climate oppressive. Yaounde would be cooler, in the highlands, but I haven't been there. It had a good reputation. Bamako, Mali, is also nice.

Antananarivo, Madagascar, is very different from Africa, but would probably qualify geographically among your choices.

Most places, you'll find that French is not spoken very widely, usually only as a common language by people who speak different Bantu tongues every day, and the African French accent might not be the best thing for you to learn. Like learning English in Jamaica, mon.
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:17 PM
 
Location: Claremont, CA
7 posts, read 11,445 times
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Thanks for the suggestions. Surprised to see no suggestions for Dakar or Abidjan. Any thoughts on these?
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:34 PM
 
Location: West Coast
1,199 posts, read 2,193,812 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Kinshasa would be the focus of African music. Some wonderful genres, far off the boring world-beat path, with 1950s African jazz still very popular. But probably a hellhole in most of the other respects you have mentioned

I thought Douala, Cameroun, was a lovely, tropical place, but you'd probably find the climate oppressive. Yaounde would be cooler, in the highlands, but I haven't been there. It had a good reputation. Bamako, Mali, is also nice.

Antananarivo, Madagascar, is very different from Africa, but would probably qualify geographically among your choices.

Most places, you'll find that French is not spoken very widely, usually only as a common language by people who speak different Bantu tongues every day, and the African French accent might not be the best thing for you to learn. Like learning English in Jamaica, mon.
Kinshasa is a major city in the DRC. I have met some incredible people from there. There is a professional class there as well.
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:38 PM
 
Location: West Coast
1,199 posts, read 2,193,812 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AhabAndNemesis View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. Surprised to see no suggestions for Dakar or Abidjan. Any thoughts on these?
Dakar is the first place I thought of, but it is well known. Thought you were seeking places that were French-speaking, but not a favorite of tourist.
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Claremont, CA
7 posts, read 11,445 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joy74 View Post
Dakar is the first place I thought of, but it is well known. Thought you were seeking places that were French-speaking, but not a favorite of tourist.
Not really. I mentioned the tourist comment only because I wanted advice through an expat lens. I don't think tourist-attracting cities and cities with a degree of vibrant livability are mutually exclusive.

Chicago, for example, is a fine city to both live in (cost of living aside) and visit as a tourist. I don't find Los Angeles to be a particularly good tourist destination due to its spread-out attractions and lack of public transportation, but I have found living there to be enjoyable once I "understood" its m.o. and acquired a taste for it. I guess the third analogy would be Las Vegas: primarily a tourist destination. That's what I don't want. So I'm not so much anti-tourist; I just want a city that fits the criteria in my original post.

Thanks for the continuing advice, it is much appreciated.

Last edited by AhabAndNemesis; 10-17-2012 at 10:36 AM..
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Old 10-23-2012, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
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French-speaking areas of the world tend to be very expensive, because most of them have kept their currency tied to the French Franc, and later the Euro.

Antigua Guatemala is a center for people from all over the world where they can study Spanish very cheaply. I asked a French traveler in Antigua where in the world one could find the cheapest place to live where one could immerse oneself in French. He thought for a moment, and said "Probably France".
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:57 PM
 
56,533 posts, read 80,824,285 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
French-speaking areas of the world tend to be very expensive, because most of them have kept their currency tied to the French Franc, and later the Euro.

Antigua Guatemala is a center for people from all over the world where they can study Spanish very cheaply. I asked a French traveler in Antigua where in the world one could find the cheapest place to live where one could immerse oneself in French. He thought for a moment, and said "Probably France".
What about Quebec or Acadian strongholds in New Brunswick?

I'm also surprised that Dakar wasn't mentioned as well.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Canada
4,698 posts, read 8,485,551 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
What about Quebec or Acadian strongholds in New Brunswick?

I'm also surprised that Dakar wasn't mentioned as well.
Well, we've all mentioned Dakar now, it's a great town clearly worth a try. Worth noting in the context of the discussion that the Congolese Franc is not tied to the Euro. And Yes, Canada is certainly cheaper than France, although the Canadian dollar has risen substantially in value while prices have failed to drop.
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