Week two was basically week one of real life. The Ghanaian students in charge had finishing taking their group of lost sheep around, given them cedis** and a phone, told them how to use the transportation and what was safe to eat. Week two was time to let them loose in the world of Accra, Ghana.
What a disaster.
For starters, I quickly discovered that everyone here is trying to rip you off. EVERYONE. Not just me because I am clearly a foreigner, although that is a factor, but making money is the game of this society. In fact, rip you off is the wrong word, because to the locals it’s everyday life. Lesson #1 for me was not to take this personally. Businesses here try to take advantage of foreigners; it’s how they make money. Still, having to raise your voice with your taxi driver every time you take a taxi, because once you arrive he wants to upcharge you from the price you agreed on before you got in the taxi…becomes frustrating. And exhausting.
This isn’t the only adjustment I’ve had to go through here by any means… there’s too many to fit in one blog post. I’ve started having cravings for American food that I can’t easily obtain here (Ghanaian food consists mainly of rice, beans, plantains and chicken), I can’t watch Netflix whenever I want, my showers are cold, laundry takes 2 hours and a lot of energy, walking to classes takes 30 minutes and a gallon of sweat…and interacting with the students here does not come naturally.
I choose Ghana for my study abroad destination because I wanted to grow from these challenges and from the experience of being a minority. What an experience that is, I must say.
My first class I walked in and sat down among a sea of black men. No women or white in site. They all looked at me while speaking to each other in their native language and laughing. They were fast, pushing chairs and people out of their way to go talk to their friends and then back to their other friends. I felt a small balloon form in the center of where my breastplate ends and ribcage begins. It swelled up and shrank down, as though the energy of the people around me was crushing my inner core. “abrune” I’d hear every now and then, which means white person. One young-looking boy, we will call A, comes to talk to me. He asked me simple questions about my grade, home country, and residence hall. Everything I’d say he’d respond with “oh wowowow” in the best way, as though the ‘O’ sound was a bouncing rubber ball coming to a halt. He then asked for my room number which I not-so-politely declined. I gave him my Ghana phone number and told him it was only for class-related matters. I’ve never heard from him.
I am in three high-level math and statistics classes that exist in this manor…each having no international students and about 2-4 women in a class of 15-50 students. The students were excited to see me in the classes, for reasons I can’t know for sure as they speak to each other in Twi, or another language, but I presume they like the opportunity to meet an international student.
Comment: I wrote this during week 2, without finishing, and have decided not to add to it as I am now looking at it during week 4. I hope to formulate my posts as I grow over time, a crucial part of that is leaving the uncertainty I felt in the beginning unaltered.