Since the semester is coming to an end, I have been trying to catch up in reading and revision for my exams, and also running errands on campus to tie up loose ends before returning to the states. Sometimes this can be frustrating because Ghana runs on a much slower pace and it is not uncommon to wait for people for hours to accomplish a task on campus. One day was even more of an adventure when I got caught in a heavy rain storm on the way through the large Legon campus. I was soaking, ring-you-out wet when I reached the Academic Affairs office! It was quite a funny sight. I did quite enjoy that rainy day, though, because it was the first time it has been cool enough to wear my sweatshirt!
Once I got through classes and my internship during the week, including my last lecture of college, I set off with my friend Hannah for Kumasi, the second biggest city in Ghana. We walked through the middle of the largest open market in West Africa, Kejetia market! We bought some amazing print fabric and walked down the railroad tracks through the heart of this intricate maze of foods, spices, and all sorts of crazy things (including dried chameleons for traditional medicine). The next day we headed 35km outside of Kumasi to spend the night at Lake Bosomtwe! This lake was made from a meteor that hit Earth over one million years ago and formed a creator surrounded by mountains that was then fed through a natural underground spring to form the lake. It was so beautiful and peaceful there. We stayed at a gorgeous guesthouse, got to hold a piece of the meteor, and swam in the water, so fresh and clear. We enjoyed watching the flying birds and the traditional-style fishermen. We also got to take a one-hour canoe trip across the lake the next morning! The panoramic view of layered mountains was incredible.
Lately my emotions have been somewhat of a roller coaster. I am so happy to be in Ghana, but yet so sad to leave. I am also very excited to go home to Ohio, especially to be with my friends and family, but I am very nervous about graduating and the reverse culture shock of returning to the States. It is incredible how quickly time is flying by!
The organization that I am an intern for in Ghana is called the Ark foundation.
It is truly amazing, and provides support, resources and advocacy for women in Ghana, especially victims of violence.
Please go to their website at www.arkfoundationghana.org to find out more information.
Please see this link to donate:
Right now is a great time to donate because the Ark is participating in a Mother’s Day Tribute Card Campaign to possibly win an extra $500 for the organization! Donate as “A Gift or In Honor Of” and you will help the Ark to raise more funds!
Studying abroad can be very expensive, and there are many students who never take the opportunity to study abroad because of lack of funding. This is so unfortunate, and students should really take the time to research scholarships and financial aid, especially with so many resources available.
Here are some tips that I found helpful when funding my experience to Ghana….
- Firstly, contact your study abroad office to see if there are scholarships or grants funded though your university. If you are an Otterbein student, talk to the Center for International Education and Global Engagement for information on the Cultural Envoy scholarship and several more.
- Definitely make an appointment with your Financial Aid office. Some universities allow you to use a portion of your financial aid, and your student loans and grants may also carry over to your overseas institution.
- Research for local, regional and national scholarships in your area. One challenging but amazing scholarship opportunity is the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship, through the Federal government. Check out the application at https://gilmanapplication.iie.org/. I was lucky enough to receive this scholarship and I am so glad that I took the time to apply.
- Ask family and friends for help! A year before my trip, I send homemade Christmas cards to family asking for help to fund my experience in Ghana. You will be surprised to see how supportive your loved ones can be!
- Budgeting and saving money is of course an important method. It is worth it to see the world!
- There are several opportunities for student discounts on flights and other travel needs. Try http://www.studentuniverse.com for discounted plane tickets.
- Lastly, be sure to consider the different ways of studying abroad and their costs. You can sign up for a student exchange through your university, use an outside state or national study abroad program, or you may directly enroll at a university abroad (which is the option I chose). The financial obligations differ greatly between these options.
This week was my 22nd birthday! On my actual birthday during the week I unfortunately felt a little down. It was very strange to not be home for this day, and I felt quite homesick. My friends here were very kind though, and I enjoyed a “Mexican night” burrito dinner and went to reggae night at Labadi beach. One of the best parts of my first day of being 22 was riding a horse down the beach! I had never ridden a horse before, so my birthday in Ghana alongside the ocean seemed to be a great place for my first time.
During the weekend was when I really celebrated my birthday through traveling with my friends and beach hopping. On Friday I went to Ada Foah, the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen with one side of fresh, river water and one side of the salty ocean. We relaxed and swam under the sun all day and had a great time. At night the moonless and cloudless sky brought hundreds of bright, white stars sprinkled across the blackness. I woke up at 2:30am to take a boat across the river to Ada, and a series of tro-tros back to Legon! After only a few hours of sleep and re-packing, I set off on an STC bus to Cape Coast with a bunch of my girl friends! Since this is one of my favorite places in Ghana, it was perfect for celebrating. We stayed at Oasis Beach Resort again, sleeping in beach bungalows and relaxing on the coast all weekend. It was a perfect stress-reliever and helped me to get over my birthday blues. I decided that I would try really hard to not be homesick during my last few weeks in Ghana because it won’t be long before Ghana is the home that I miss!
During my twelfth week in Ghana the most exciting part was going back to Kokrobite for the weekend and spending time with my friends. We enjoyed relaxing on the beach, checking out the craft shops and listening to a great reggae band at night. I have really met some amazing people here in Ghana, from all over the world. It has been so nice to meet people who have the common interest of traveling and having new experiences. Making these connections is certainly one of the best parts of studying abroad.