2018 Summer Bisi Oyelola CIEE External Programs Ghana

My Last Days in Accra, Ghana

This week marked my last week in Ghana. The study abroad experience went by quickly, but slowly at the same time. I knew four weeks wasn’t an exuberant amount of time but I am surprised by how quickly it ended. I’ve learned a great deal in the four short weeks abroad in Accra. This past week, I spent a good amount of time alone, which I believe is important to do abroad. I visited the Art Market and attempted to start packing to go back home. Class ended this past Tuesday, though I still have to submit my two final essay which is stressful to say the least, especially considering we only have a few days left to tie up loose ends and board our flights. I think it’s important to recognize that given most university students, in general, have a stressful load, students abroad face even more challenges. They must adjust to a new culture, possibly learn a new language, and “fit in.” Despite these challenges, however, I learned a great deal about diversity in current conversations and thoughts surrounding reproductive health rights. I also appreciated the encouragement our professors gave us and their enthusiasm in teaching. In the U.S., it’s very established that not every person holds the same views, but I never really thought about how diversity in thought could translate to different societies in different countries–which I believe is what going to university is all about. We said our goodbyes to our professors by thanking them for their wisdom in lecturing us, as well as their openness to conversation, and had a great end to the course.

 

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Art Market in Downtown Accra

Additionally, my last few days have been spent visiting family members and wrapping up the experience that I have had abroad. From the beginning of my experience in Accra, I’ve understood that family has been an integral part of this entire journey, so it was great to catch up with my abusua before I left to return back to the States. Leaving a country that you’ve become fond of is not easy, especially when you have ties to it. Accra is a beautiful place with a rich culture, and the humor that Ghanaians embody is hilarious.

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International Student House

 

Ultimately, Ghana is a dynamic country which brings you closer to yourself and definitely brought me closer to who I am. The calm of the country during the evening and night reflect the relaxed and easygoing attitude of Accra. The dynamic allows you to take time to yourself to truly evaluate your purpose within the country. The collectivist nature of Ghanaian and African culture, I believe, defined my experience. Throughout my time here, I had alone time but never thought of myself as “alone.” The interactions I had with my family bridged the gap between heritage, but also identity. The interactions I had with the local people established similarities and commonality. Ghana’s collectivist culture doesn’t prioritize stark independence but rather interactions with each other and productivity based on that. It is very easy to believe you are alone or no one understands you, especially when studying abroad for the first time. However, I love that in these moments, the people here reassured me that they were there to help. In Ghana, one is never lost.

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