After my ten hour plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean, I was overwhelmed with excitement when our plane flew into Accra! It was amazing to look down and see the green trees and deep red dirt of West Africa. When I stepped off the plane I felt the heat immediately–certainly a change from cold Ohio weather. I was picked up from the airport by a member of the International Programmes Office here in Ghana, and was wide-eyed and smiling with my head out of the window the entire ride to my university. The streets were busy with cars, trees, women carrying items on their heads, and street vendors busily selling things.
Once I arrived at my new home (the International Students’ Hostel II, what we call “ISH II”), I was surprised to see how far away my dorm was from the main campus. I was used to Otterbein’s tiny campus community, so this university seemed like a city! My dorm room was certainly not fancy, nor air-conditioned, but my double room was quite nice, with a bed, desk, wardrobe, bookshelf, sofa, side table, and balcony. The hostel overall felt very safe too.
My first few days here I allowed myself to settle in, and I was lucky to meet a lot of international students and Ghanaian students right away. Everyone here has been very welcoming and kind. I heard “Akwaaba!” several times a day, which means “Welcome!” in Twi, the local language in the Greater Accra area. Although I made new friends so quickly, I did struggle with culture shock and homesickness my first few nights here. I was happy and excited, but sometimes emotion overwhelmed me and I longed to be with my friends and family at home. Looking back on it now I understand these emotions, especially since I traveled to a non-Western country all on my own! Ghana is also the first country that I have been to outside of the United States, so feeling some culture shock was completely normal. As the week went on I attended orientation for the University of Ghana, went to the mall to pick up items for my dorm, and spent some time on the nearby beach! It only took a few days for me to completely fall in love with Ghanaian culture and people!
The most exciting day this first week was on Wednesday, which is Reggae night at Labadi Beach, a popular beach very close to our university. It was so much fun to dance and hang out with my friends literally on the beach! There was great music, friendly people, and beautiful waves. That night really made me feel at home in Ghana, and foreshadowed the amazing time I will have these next few months.