Tag Archives: #africa

A Home Away From Home

Often I mention the extravagant trips I take with my program or the exciting things that happen here, but rarely have I talked about my everyday life. Although occasionally the day-to-day routine can seem mundane at times, I thought it would be interesting to tell of my average week here and what it entails.

Monday through Thursday, I have at least one class per day. When I wake up in the morning I go downstairs to the quaint kitchen where three Ghanaian women work and order some of my favorite breakfast food (usually porridge with honey and bananas) or grab a fruit smoothie from the convenience store on my way to class. My host campus is quite large, so typically I try to take the school shuttle on the especially scorching and humid days as to not show up to class looking like I’ve just got out of the shower.

Classes here last two hours and they only meet once a week, so this was an adjustment for me when I first arrived. There are not many assignments either, but when there is, you can bet that it is going to be group work. This also reflects the sense of community that is evident all across Ghana. Not to mention there is a huge emphasis on group discussion and tests. Although it may not be my traditional style of education, it’s refreshing to get a feel for a learning style other than the one that I’ve grown up with.

 

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My host campus has plenty of events to attend. This one was a presentation that my friend Christian got to speak at. We all try to get involved in the local events/activities at the university.

 

After class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I usually make my way to the hospital. As a part of my service-learning class, I had to choose a location to volunteer at while I am here. Since I am a nursing major, I decided the best course of action would be to try and get some experience at the university hospital in the children’s ward. My days here are never exactly the same. Sometimes I get to have conversations with a sweet and stressed mother whose baby was born with some complication. Or occasionally I’ll get to play with restless children while their fatigued mothers attempt to get some rest. I have to admit however that my absolute favorite activities at the ward revolve around learning from the nurses. They have taught me how to check vitals, let me assist with drawing blood, and showed me how to change an IV.

 

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This is one of the mothers who I had the chance to sincerely connect with at the hospital. Her name is Edwardin and I treasure the time I got to spend with her.

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On my way home from school, I sometimes stop at the nearby market and grab some rice and chicken or goat kebabs for dinner. But maybe if I am feeling adventurous, I’ll have a bowl of banku and ground nut soup, a dish that contains fermented corn and cassava and is adored by locals. I also joined the University of Ghana swim team, so it’s typically off to practice for me! A school night usually consists of me talking with friends at the hostel, and then a refreshing cold shower on my way to bed.

 

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Myself and some other international students on the ISH (International Student Hostel) swim team! We did fairly well in this competition, and it is a blast getting to know some of the students from other halls!

 

When Friday rolls around, I have to admit it is my favorite part of the week. Often I’ll explore Accra on little day trips by trotro (the main form of public transportation) or hang around the hostel eating my favorite snack (this little marvelous packaged ice cream called FanIce.) My local friends offer neat sights for me to go and visit, and each outing always blesses me with something new to be learned. I love the life that I have made for myself here, and can not wait to see what else the future has in store.

 

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Locals usually purchase animals such as chicken or goat at the nearby markets, and then transport them on the trotros. It still makes me giggle a little when I see chickens in the seat ahead of me.

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One of Ghana’s treasures is the Aburi Botanical Gardens. These gardens are home to a variety of plants, but this carved tree was definitely one of my favorites. It had intricate designs of bodies and animals all throughout.

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As Accra is located on the coast, there are plenty of beaches to visit. This particular beach is called Bojo Beach, and to get there one has to take a canoe across to a tiny island where one can relax in the gorgeous sights, or take a dip in the Atlantic.

 

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Filed under Africa, Coryl in Ghana

Different is Not Bad

My name is Coryl Jackson, and for the next four months I will be studying abroad in Ghana. Follow my blog posts to hear and see all that I will engage in during my experience here.

 

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About a week ago, I arrived in a country within West Africa called Ghana to continue my studies, and also to experience as much of this wonderful country as I can. My main goal for this blog is to describe Ghana to the best of my capabilities as I experience the country with a desire for an expanded, open mind that can absorb this new environment.

While my attempt at describing what I have already seen and done here in Ghana may be in-efficacious, I can only hope to share a taste of what I have absorbed and grown from already. When reading about culture shock, it seems like a fairly basic concept. One might think that they are prepared for not being used to what they have always known, but experiencing culture shock is not something that can be left with a few words. As I begin to adjust to my new life in Ghana, I can not help but comparing everything to what I have always known. The music, people, places, and even the toilets are foreign to me. One aspect of the culture here that is considerably unusual for me is the concept of time. Today, I showed up for class about thirty minutes early only to find that the professor was not to come today. It was a bit frustrating, but the Ghanaian students seemed to accept it without any hostility towards the professor.

At orientation we learned the saying ‘time is time.’ Time is treated differently here, and many are late even to important events like weddings and funerals. It is easy to get angry about little differences here that I have never had to experience before. ‘Time is time’ has become a sort of a motto for many of the international students here when dealing with a difficult situation. I have begun to accept certain characteristics of the culture here (such as what I would call at home an invasion of personal space) with the outlook that this is how things are done here. Market vendors may grab a potential customer in order to get their attention, but no one finds this strange.

However, there are so many parts of the culture here that I adore. I love going to the night market by my hostel and bargaining for fresh mango and pineapple for breakfast. I cherish the people who have welcomed us here with open arms and minds because that is the way it is done here. I get excited when I wear the garments that the local seamstress sewed for myself and many of the international students. It is vital to understand that different is not bad, just different. I have only been here a week, and yet I feel I have seen more than I ever have. I had the chance to canoe to a village that resides on stilts in a thick marsh west of Accra. I have been paddle boarding in the Atlantic Ocean on a lovely beach on a particularly hot day. I have been to a bustling market in central Accra where people barter for various goods. Moving forward from this point, I wish to learn everything that I have the chance to immerse my mind in, whether this be through my classes, or the adventures I will partake in outside of the classroom.

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Hujambo! A first glance at preparing for, and living in Tanzania

The two weeks leading up to my study abroad program were a complete whirl of excitement and anxiety. Preparing to leave the country for four months was one thing, but preparing to spend a significant amount of time in the wilderness of was a completely different challenge. Thirty-three nights of camping in the African bush is a part of my upcoming program, and that’s not exactly something I could slack on preparing for. However, between balancing time with friends and family, and taking care of numerous pre-departure tasks (vaccines, banking business, and the like), I had almost no time leftover for all the other things I needed to prepare for. My last days in California were spent racing around town buying tents, compact sleeping bags and sleeping pads, water purification tablets, and malaria medication. I was up until 3:30 in the morning the day before my flight, as I struggled to cram all of my gear into one 55 Liter pack (I ended up being unsuccessful at fitting everything in one pack and was forced to check that bag and add a second backpack…not the most ideal setup). I spent the rest of my night being nervous about adjusting to a new culture – at this point the excitement had yet to sink in.

Two full days of travel later, I stepped off my plane and into the warm night air at the Kilimanjaro airport. I finally met my fellow wildlife conservation program students. After our group went through customs, we are all shuffled into Safari trucks for a two hour drive to our campsite at the Ndarikwai ranch. We scramble to set up our tents in the midnight darkness, but soon found ourselves drifting off to a chorus of frogs and the low snort-grumbles of impala.AA1

I awoke at sunrise filled with excitement (which was surprising considering the terrible jet lag I was feeling), and was amazed as the real beauty of this area came into full view. The silhouette of Kilimanjaro loomed over us in the distance to one side, and mount Meru towered on the other. A troop of baboons played in the trees as fiesty infants jumped on their mothers to alert them of morning, and the birds provided a soundtrack to the start of the day, with hundreds of species announcing their presence.

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We were introduced to our program director Baba Jack and the rest of our Tanzanian staff before going on a long hike through the Ndarikwai area–a ranch turned conservation reserve, where Maasai herders live side by side with zebra, wildebeest, and many other wild animals. It is one of the few wildlife areas in the country where you are permitted to walk the area, instead of being forced to remain inside of your safari car. This made for a unique experience walking in the savannah under acacia trees and next to herds of grazing mammals.

 

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Camping in a secluded natural environment for one week was one of the best ways to welcome our group into beautiful Tanzania. We had a chance to connect with fellow students, get to know our director and staff members, and even chat a little Swahili with our camp cooks. It was certainly a great way to ease into being orientated to a new country and culture.

 

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Filed under Africa, Ari in Tanzania