Ghana Weeks 3-4: Becoming Home

I haven’t posted in a while, mainly because my MiFi ran out of data after my purge-netflix while adjusting phase. My phone gets just enough free data for me to get by without using actual internet (i.e I wait one minute for my e-mails to load on my phone). I also haven’t posted because I’ve been climbing my way out of the, as mentioned, adjusting period. The period where you feel worthless and stuck. When you don’t want to leave your room because you don’t know how anything works and no one wants to talk to you and you miss the people at home. So you use all your $25 of Wifi on Netflix. Climbing out of this took being present. Being busy…and little reflection time.

So, now that I’ve recovered, here’s the what’s-so about living in Accra, Ghana (Currency converted from Ghana Cedes to USD are rough conversions):

Wifi: Non existent. There is a “student wifi” on campus but you need to know the hotspots, and depending on how many people are using it…it still might not work. So you buy a Mifi. This has a SIM card which you (or the company you buy it from) load with gigs, then it uses data to connect to the internet. If you get a good brand, you can get 12 Gigs for $10. I didn’t do my shopping ahead of time, though, and am currently paying $25 for 6 Gigs.

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Showers: Cold. I’m not going to say “You get used to it”…you don’t. It sucks, and you bear it.

Food: Local food can be very cheap. Rice, Chicken, fried plantains, fish, boiled eggs, and a mixture of raw vegetables are easy to find. Each dish comes with a very spicy sauce on top. A plate with more food than you can eat is around $2.50. However, I get tired of the rice and chicken combo really quick and often miss American food. Pizza is around $5-10, burgers $10-17, with other decent restaurants having American food that falls in the $7-20 range.

Drinks: Depends on the place. A big bottle of Club beer is consistently $1.25, however shots range from $2.50-3.75. (There’s one stand that sells Bitters shots for $.50)

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Adrian likes Bitters shots also

 

Transportation: Taxi’s and TroTros. TroTros are vans that pack 17-22 people in them, depending on the vehicle length. They are much cheaper than taxis but very hectic. At each stop they try and pack as many people as they can into their van. Once in, you pay anywhere between $.20-$.50. If you need change, don’t take a TroTro. Taxis are pretty similar to taxi’s in the U.S except you agree on a price with the driver before getting in. Since I have white skin, I’m probably never going to get a good deal with a taxi. There are also buses that drive around smaller patches of the city, and buses that drive to faraway places like Cape Coast or a beach. I haven’t figured out the strategy for using a bus yet.

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Many students in my ISEP International Students group on the TroTro. We filled up the van that day. I’m seated in front of the camera…a TroTro on a typical day is too busy/crowded for me to pull out my phone and take pictures

 

Laundry: Hand Washing. I did this once to say I did it, but I’m not sure when I’ll go back. It takes a lot of time and energy. To have the laundry services wash your clothes for you (they use a machine) it’s $2.50-$5.00 and you save 3 hours of your life.

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Language: Different regions of Ghana speak different languages. The University is a mixture of people from all over. The main local language spoken in the Accra region is Twi. Most of the students speak “pigeon” …what they call a combination of different languages (usually English and their home language). Everyone speaks English and it serves as a last-resort way to communicate, i.e it’s not the preferred or first-chosen language to use.

Social Culture: I will spend most of my remaining blog posts discussing this, as this is what is interesting, unique, and exciting about studying abroad.

Casualties so far:

Number of Internationals who’ve gotten Malaria: 3

Number of Internationals who’ve gotten food poisoning: 2

Number of Internationals who’ve gotten a parasite: 2

(numbers are “at-least” values as they’re only based on what I’ve heard)

Number of Dark Chocolate Bars I’ve eaten: 3

Number of days that took: 2

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