Thursday, 17 May 2012

Akwaaba! (Welcome!)

Today I woke up in a dorm room in Accra, Ghana.  It's crazy to think so! 

My flights on Tuesday and Wednesday went smoothly: flights were on time, customs was interesting, and I had to change my USD into Ghanian Cedis (for the record, a USD will get about one and a third cedis.  I brought a lot of cash to try and avoid having to use the ATM machine later, and I think I should probably invest in a safe now). 

My layover was in Amsterdam and it was nice to see a teeny tiny part of Holland.  I really wanted to buy a ceramic blue and white shoe or even some wooden shoes from Holland, but wasn't sure if after I did that I would have enough for my stay in Ghana.  So I resisted the very large temptation, and now I regret it just a little bit.  While I was waiting to board the plane in Amsterdam, I met a few Californian students who were going to Ghana for a study aboard program for three months; it was nice to see US students my age in Amsterdam. :) 
The plane rides were of course chilly, so when I stepped off the plane in Accra, 85 degrees and 86% humidity felt really nice with my MSU sweatshirt I was wearing!  There were so many people in the airport and the way in which the airport was set up was a bit confusing (even though everything was in English).  They were renovating a large portion of the airport and I don't think that it helped matters much.  Nonetheless, I tried to follow the other passengers (particularly the US students I met earlier) so I could get accomplished what I needed to in the airport before I left.

There is another SI student from my program at UM who arrived in Ghana last week, so she and this other Ghanian man who works at the library, Justice, picked me up from the airport.  There were so many people there and before I stepped outside, a Ghanian officer asked if I needed a ride and I told him I had one coming for me.  He told me to wait inside and he was going to see if he could find someone with a sign saying "Stacy Maat."  This was a little awkward and I wasn't sure if I should wait or not or if he was a real officer, so I turned on my phone and was trying to connect to Wifi, and then he came back with Amanda and Justice!  It was awesome!

We then walked outside and took a taxi back to the University.  No driver in Ghana follows traffic laws.  Not a single one.  No one was stopping for red lights and they wove in and out of traffic, honking their horns as they passed a car, (in order to let them know that they were there, I'm sure) driving really fast too (at least it seemed to be in the backseat)!  

When we got to the university, we stopped at an All Needs Supermarket.  They really have the basics that Amanda and I would need from shampoo and cereal to drinks and razors and toilet paper.  But no turkey sandwiches.  There is also just outside of the supermarket, an area of local women selling the same items but at a discounted price: and their waters and coca-colas are kept cold in coolers with ice.  We have yet to try and purchase anything on our own yet, but I am sure we will soon enough!

We then drove to our dorm room (none of the university streets are paved and are full of HUGE potholes!) and unpacked the taxi of my things.  We are staying in the newly opened (and apparently still under construction) Elizabeth Frances Seys Hall.  There is no air conditioning (which is fine!) but the windows are screened in so we don't have to worry about mosquitoes too terribly much.  There is no hot water, which was fine last night when I landed, but less fun in the morning when you just wake up, but the water runs!  The students around us don't seem to go to bed.  Amanda and I went to bed about midnight but people were still talking, and then still talking when I rolled over at 2, then again at 4, and then once more at 6:30.  Amanda said it's a bit worse on the weekends when they don't have classes to go to.  We shall see what that entails!  I took some pictures of our room and will hopefully upload those before I get home to the US! 

This morning, Justice met us at our dorm room and we took a shuttle to the library with a few other students.  Pot holes + bus = extremely bumpy and bouncy ride all the way to the library...about 7 minutes.  We arrived at the library and everyone was so friendly and greeted me with a smile and shook my hand (some people holding onto my hand for a bit longer than necessary but it is part of their customs, I believe).  I met the librarian of the university library as well as various members of the IT department, acquisitions, and digitization units.  Unlike in the US, most of the people working here at the library are males (in the US, librarians are predominately women). 

Amanda and I have our own office, (pictures to come soon!) and we have our own desks and my nameplate says, Quality Control Officer.  Each office in the library has air conditioning so at least we aren't trapped in the heat at all hours of the day!  It does get a bit chilly though, so this afternoon, we turned ours off. 

For lunch today, we had some Ghanian chicken (grilled chicken with some spice to it) with some white rice and a stewed pepper sauce, oh and fried plantains.  Each of these things was delicious!  My mouth had a slight burning sensation for a little bit because of the spices and pepper, but it was delicious!  Coca-Cola is quite plentiful here in Ghana, which I am thankful for!  I am excited to see what we will do for dinner tonight!

Okay, I suppose I should probably finish up the rest of my day here (break time is over).  So much to say and tell and will try to do so soon!



  1. Wonderful to read about your first day--I hope you can keep this up!

  2. Great to hear about your experiences and so excited for you! Keep in touch!

  3. So glad you're blogging, keep us posted! <3

  4. I love it! I can't stop reading it! ahahahah, there goes my productivity at work for the day! LOL

    1. Awww Yay, Wendy!! I can't wait to call you when I land back in the States!!