In the week approaching the end of my first month in Ghana, I encountered several things that provided a genuine Ghanaian student experience. Firstly, I hand-washed my laundry, which was definitely a new type of chore for me. I was quite proud of myself after soaking, scrubbing, rinsing, wringing, and hanging over 70 items of clothing! My Ghanaian roommate, Esther, said that she was proud of me since many of the white students pay for their laundry to be done for them. Although taking my clothes to the Laundromat would be more convenient, I came to the University of Ghana to experience life as a Ghanaian, not an over-privileged foreigner. Plus hand-washing all of my clothing makes me very appreciative of clean clothes!
This week I was also introduced to a common Ghanaian issue–water shortage. We had no water in our dorm for three days–no running sinks, flushing toilets, or showers. In this type of situation, the Ghanaian no-stress attitude is greatly needed. We were all pretty smelly and greasy by the time the water came back, but our cheers throughout the hall revealed that we will no longer take running water for granted!
Another way I felt integrated into Ghanaian student life was through my classes. My academic experience here so far has been very, very different from Otterbein. I am taking classes in several departments, including sociology, history, political science, and archaeology, as well as an African drumming class. Each course is split up between lectures and tutorials. In almost all of my classes, the lecture is full of hundreds of students! The tutorials are more discussion-based with small groups. Although courses here are nice, especially since the University of Ghana is considered the best university in Ghana and West Africa, being here in my last semester of college has made me realize how well Otterbein educated me, with the small, discussion-based classes and creative professors. I have never before realized how truly lucky we are to have been Otterbein students.
After a week on campus, I went away for the weekend to Kokrobite, a small costal town in Western Accra. We stayed in a house at Big Milly’s Backyard, which was a beachfront resort! We listened and danced to a live reggae band on Saturday night, after enjoying all afternoon in the sun on the beautiful beach. As with all beaches that I have seen in Ghana, we shared the sand with colorful fishing boats, stray dogs, and people selling jewelry, bananas and plantain chips. A loud morning thunderstorm on Sunday morning closed off our trip, and we headed back to Legon! I had successfully completed my first month in Ghana!