The Boren Scholarship and why I didn’t take it

May 23, 2013

In December, just over a month before I would be going to Ghana, I found out about a scholarship, the Boren Scholarship, which would enable me to spend an extra semester in Ghana, teach me Twi at the University of Florida in the summer, and then set me up with a job in DC after college. It sounded like a dream; it was a dream, so naturally I decided to apply for it.

The application process was tedious and had to mostly be done while I was in Ghana. Attempting to do anything back home while in Ghana that requires extensive internet and e-mail attachments is a joke. There is so often no internet, no power, and no place to connect yourself to America that attempting to fill this application out was a nightmare. But I got it done with MAJOR help from my friends, family, and my mentor, Scott London, just in the nick of time.

The application was due in February. The results wouldn’t come out until May. And so here I was, waiting for something I thought I wanted more than anything I’ve ever wanted before, blind to fact that the next few months would be the best, worst, most exciting, challenging, and exhausting months I have ever dealt with alone.

Basically, what this is leading to a few weeks ago I received an e-mail from Boren. I got the scholarship! In hindsight it was really great news. But the first thing that happened is I walked to my friends Jordan and Rachel’s, room, looked at Jordan with deep, conflicted eyes, and started crying.

“I’m so proud of myself, but the thought of being gone all summer and coming back here next semester kills me” I told her. And that’s the truth. Although this experience has been wonderful and I have learned more than I will ever know for the next 5 years, my patience and my will are rapidly falling apart. I’m constantly tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, and hungry. Also, I came here for school but I have never hated school more than I did this semester. The lack of organization and intellectual stimulation this university offers is astounding. I really dislike the school. There are so many reasons I didn’t take the Boren Scholarship, and I know that I could have learned a ton more from another semester, but I need to reflect on this semester and I need to do what I think is best for me in this state and moment.

And what I need right now is familiarity. Comfort. Home. There are so many things that I miss, need, which I don’t get here. I don’t want to use this space as a place for me to complain about all the things I feel like I’m lacking, but I must admit, not being hugged for over 4 months is probably the hardest. And this lack of human touch is extremely isolating. I can’t wait to cuddle in my mom’s big, strong arms for days on end this summer.

And those are reasons why I won’t take the Boren. I talked to a lot of people about this decision, people I trust and respect, and almost everyone agreed that I needed to think about myself before my career. And I agree, I’m so honored to have received such an award, but if I can do that, I can do something else just as good. And to be honest, the Boren sets me on a path I’m not ready to commit to. Being in Ghana has matured me in a way that has taught me that I am much more of a kid than I ever knew and that I have time to find out what I do want to do… something that never seemed to change until I came here.

So I will be back home all summer and at I will not leave Randolph-Macon until I graduate. With this, for any who are interested, my plans for the summer are as followed:

May 27th: I will arrive in Chicago around midnight

May 31st– June 5th: I will be visiting friends in Ann Arbor

June 5th: I will be leaving with my family to participate in the One Million Bones art instillation in Washington, D.C. from June 6th– 12th. We are always looking for more volunteers, so if you’re interested visit or contact me.

June 12th: Back to Chicago to work, live, eat and love with my family

August… teens: BACK TO RANDY MAC!!!!


Since my final decline of the Boren, I have been busy with finals. I have taken 5 and have only 1 left the day before I leave! May 14th was insane, and by the end of the three finals I thought my fingers were going to fall off. But I made it through. Just like I’ll make it through my last days.

My finals schedule:

May 8th: Modern Western Political Thought

May 14th: Civil Society in Ghana, Twi, Geography of Gender and Development in Ghana

May 22nd: Africa and the Global System

May 25th: Acting

My plan for the next few days is to do some last minute shopping, spend a day at the fancy hotel pool in the city, and pack probably 3 more times (I’ve already packed 4 times… it’s all about efficiency). Besides that, I plan on watching lots of movies, sleeping, and just getting home.

I’m sorry I’ve been so inconsistent with blog posts. I will continue to write about past experiences in Ghana even after I leave on Sunday. In addition, I plan to write about my reflection of this experience throughout the summer. I believe that there is a lot more to learn in hindsight of the entire experience. So look out for more!

Until next time,


The Volta Region

The farthest East region in Ghana, bordering Togo, is the Volta Region. During the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 Africa was sectioned up into states by Europeans for colonial rule. When this happened, the Volta tribe was split up; half of them are in Ghana while the other half are in Togo. Ghana was colonized by the British, so the main language is English, while Togo was colonized by the French, so they speak French. This history wasn’t very relevant to my experience, but I think it’s important for all of you to know.

We left for the Volta region on Saturday morning around 7am. Our itinerary for the weekend was as follows: Monkey sanctuary and waterfall on Saturday, then hiking Sunday morning. Let’s just say… our trip did not go as planned. During the bus ride to the region we didn’t have any bathroom breaks. It was probably a 5+ hour drive and I definitely was in pain by the time we got to our first stop. I’ve gotten really good at holding my bladder for hours.

When we got to the Monkey sanctuary around 1pm the sun was hot and high in the sky. It’s the hottest time of the year and we, like the monkeys, are feeling it. Because it was the dry season and in the middle of the day, the monkeys were hot, tired, and had already eaten, so their interest in us was minimal. The way that our guide tried to get the monkeys to interact with us was by giving us bananas and making a very loud kissing sound with his lips. There were probably only 3 monkeys around.

Apparently, during the rainy season, there are hundreds of monkeys filled in the trees and they jump all on and around you trying to get food. But.. it was not the rainy season, and they were not interested. After a failed attempt at getting the attention of the monkeys, we were given a tour of the village and told a little about the monkey tribes that live in that area of the Volta region. Then we were told we were going to go on a hike. It was really a 5 minute walk to an old tree that was right next to the main road…. Less than exciting.

We finally left and started on our journey to the waterfall! I was most excited for this part of the trip…but what really happened to us Saturday evening was no waterfall.  You see, the roads in this area are really awful; full of pot holes, bumpy, narrow. They aren’t really fit for a bus, or for the way the driver was driving the bus. Twice the driver stopped the bus because apparently the tires were getting too hot… I’m not sure what was ultimately wrong with the bus but it ended up breaking down in some small local village. We spent 7 hours in this village.

Unaware of how long we would be at the village, we first found Fanice products (ice cream and popsicles in a bag) and shade and relaxed. After about 2 hours we were all a little restless and we began to explore the small village. We played with the young children around and chatted with the locals. One man came up to me and started speaking French. He asked me what was wrong and I told him our bus broke down. He asked where we were from and where we were going. It was the first French conversation I’ve ever had with no preparation! It was really cool, and he understood me clearly. One girl in our group got her hair braided… some others watched a football match. In the end we all sat in the dark and started singing to pass the time. The children thought it was hilarious… I’m sure everyone around us thought we were hilarious. Regardless, we belted out Disney and 90’s pop hits until we finally left around 9pm.

Since we obviously didn’t go to the waterfall, we were told that in the morning we would hike and then see the waterfall after. We were going to be staying at a guest house in a village, and they would have food for us for dinner. The food… well. Hmm.. It was questionable. We had rice, stew, and unidentifiable chicken parts and fish heads. It was not the best and most of us felt pretty sick that night sleeping on small floor mattresses. But we still each paid around GHC5-10 for that meal (I budget myself GHC 10 a day to eat) so we were all pretty annoyed by that.

Sleeping in the guest house was, for lack of a better term, a shit show. There were probably upwards of 20 of us and we all were supposed to share 4 beds, the house had no water, and the doors didn’t lock. I slept on a 1.5 inch thick mattress on the floor. We woke up the next morning to hike at 7am. When we went to the local store to get breakfast they had only 4 loaves of bread that were half stale… that wasn’t going to feed all of us, so I just ate half of a cliff bar that I had saved from the night before.

The hike was amazing, hardest hike I’ve ever done, but it was fantastic. It took about an hour to get up it and the path was shy of vertical and our guide was trucking along so fast in flip flops! There were times when I was pulling myself up the side of the mountain, it was insane. By the end of the hike I was super sweaty and tired. We took tons of pictures and looked into the hazy horizon that was Togo. When we decided to go back down, we were in for a treat! Because of the steep incline, it was truly impossible to walk, so I let gravity take my down the mountain, forcing myself to stop the momentum by running into trees. It was so much fun but I was pretty terrified. My friend Charles did the crab walk the entire way down… hilarious.

After our hike we all hopped into the bus to go to the long awaited waterfall!! When we got there it was a short hike to the fall. There are pictures on facebook of this experience, a girl in our group, Carrie, has a waterproof camera. It was easily one of the coolest experiences of my life. The water was freezing cold in contrast with the hot, humid air. The rocky bottom made my arches ache as I tried to get closer to the fall. The closer I got the more I could feel the waterfall, drops of water hitting my face like knives. It was sharp and cold, leaving my face stinging. But it was worth it, once your body numbed up the fall seemed so powerful and so inviting. However, trying to get behind it was… a shit show. I couldn’t see anything and my eyes hurt from looking through walls of water. After trying to withstand the power of the fall for about 3 minutes, we went back out to a safe range where we stood, admiring this natural phenomenon.

The waterfall distracted me from how hungry I was and for the fact that our tour guide was an extremely poor planner. So I bought up a bunch of bananas, peanuts, and cookies… lots of cookies. The ride back was worse than the ride there. Tired, hungry, and frustrated by the majority of the experience, everyone wanted to be back at the familiar ISH.

About 30 minutes outside campus, we were told that we were going to get a treat since things didn’t quite work out like we thought… PIZZA!!!! Everyone was enthralled. Not only were we hungry, but the idea of something close to American food was more than comforting. And then there were two pizzas… slices small enough to eat in two bites and not everyone got a piece. Fail. What a terrible surprise and a terrible way to end this trip.

I must say… I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to the Volta Region.


Until Next Time,


Trip to Cape Coast

The second trip that ISEP took us on was to Cape Coast. For the most part the roads on this trip were good, congested, but they were paved. They told us it would take about 3 ½ to get to the slave castle. It ended up taking about 5 hours. The traffic was worse than they expected, so they let us stop at a gas station to get snacks and such. This was my first experience peeing in a hole (sorry for the tmi, but I think it’s an important aspect of culture shock). A lot of places don’t have toilets here. I think it’s funny how I so often complain about a lack of toilet paper at parties, well here, not only is there not toilet paper, but there aren’t any toilets, rather showers covered in other people’s urine that are hot, sticky, and just good enough to deal with. I would have rather gone outside, but only boys can do that.

Once we arrived at Cape Coast we went straight to the slave castle. This is the main attraction of this area, and it was really interesting. I wish I could put up photos to show everyone how beautiful the area is, but the internet won’t permit such a thing. So anyway, first we went through this museum… more like we were rushed through this museum… of the history of colonialism and how slave trade came to be. This was one of my favorite parts mainly because there is so much about colonialism that I don’t know (although I am learning a ton about it in some of my classes). So below are some of the notes that I wrote down in my notebook from the museum:

-In the 15th century the Portugese were the first to come to Ghana, or the “Gold Coast.” They were interested in trade of gold, ivory, spices, and slaves to Europe.

-Ghanaian trade became in 1000AD between towns and states that emerged from the need to deal with harsh climates from the past that created the Sahara

-Islam expansion (800AD-1600AD) is when 5,000-10,000 slaves were exported YEARLY from Africa

-1400 to 1900: Gold trade, 14-15 million ounces of gold were extracted at this time

-Portugese came for gold and to extend Christian crusade against Muslims. The portugese were the main exploiters of Ghana for 100 years before other European countries came

-1600: Dutch came

-Britain, Denmark, Sweden and France also came later

-The most famous castles in Ghana are those in Elmina and Cape Coast. They served as the regional head quarters  for development and trade.

-The Cape Coast castle first was used as a lodge by the portugese, it was overrun and enlarged by the Dutch in 1632. In 1652 it was taken over by Sweden, then by the Denmark in 1657, then finally by England in 1664.

-Slave trading began in the early 15th century and it brought: new agriculture (crops/animals), education, literacy, Christianity, and a political/ judicial system. In addition, there was an increase in building skills and architecture. As one sign explained, “positive cultural, social, and political manifestation was noted and incorporated into the fabrics”

-The estimates of Africans for slavery are as followed: 12-25 million Africans

è 1/3 to Caribbean

è 1/3 to America

è 1/3 to Brazil

-In 1807 slave trade was banned, but it didn’t stop until the mid-1900’s.

-The vessels used to transport slaves were also known as “floating coffins” because of the way humans were stacked like books on shelves. Each ship carried about 600 slaves. *There was a picture of the layout of one of these ships in the museum, this was the most intense part of the entire castle. It showed rows and rows of slaves, systematically squished together in small, dark, incomprehensible conditions.

We were hurried out of the museum. It is interesting, every monument or exhibit I have been to here I have been rushed through. I’m not sure why, but I am never given enough time to actually read anything, so pardon my scattered notes. But once we got out of the museum we started to take the tour of the slave castle. We started at the men’s dungeon. Below are the notes I took that have to do with the tour of the castle:

-Apparently, before the slave dungeon for men was made by the British, there was a church in that same place. That was so creepy to me.

-There were only small windows for light sources. When we walked in, it was basically pitch black, so they had lights within the cave to see details.

-When people died, their bodies were sent into the Atlantic Ocean.

-People slept on straw mattresses and where they slept is also where they went to the bathroom. Over years and years of slaves living in that cave, the floor has a compressed floor that has been created from feces and dirt. The layer is so thick over the original floor. Imagine how many slaves there were.

-Often, slaves were traded for fabric and alcohol

-When a slave was traded they were branded based on their buyer. Each buyer had their own symbol so there would not be conflict over them.

-Slaves were sold based on their “strength,” so they would be paraded around European buyers who would barter for them. Apparently, there were lots of fights and it was really disorganized.

Thinking about the castle in hindsight, I am a lot more emotional about the concept of slave trade, but while I was visiting Cape Coast, it was beautiful, it was historical, it was not moving. I thought it would evoke a similar reaction like when I went to the Holocaust museum in DC, but it didn’t. The tour guides were chipper, they moved us from place to place as if we have somewhere to be, often not even giving me time to take pictures. They talked about the slave trade as in a positive sense saying, “yes it was a terrible thing, but we forgave, and we gained so much from it.” It’s true. Ghana gained a lot from slave trade that would later be a large factor in their role in the global community and their development today. It was a really weird experience. I left feeling uneasy and confused. I wish there was more emotion about it… I wanted stories, but it was just history.

After the slave castle, we had the most magnificent lunch on a beautiful beach, called Brenu Beach in Ayensudo. We had lobster, grouper, creamy curry chicken, pepper, stew, fried rice, French fries, cabbage salad with avocado, and for dessert we had mango, pineapple and papaya. It was a lovely meal. I wish that I could have appreciated it more than I did. In the beginning the food was hard for me to get used to… now that I feed myself on GHC 10 a day, I really wish I could go back in time and savor every bite that was provided for me during orientation. Food hasn’t been that good since then, cause I’m cheap. #lifeasastudent

We stayed at the beach for a while relaxing, finding seashells, and letting the ocean water lick our ankles. That night, we stayed in a hotel that had a pool, restaurant, and a pond filled with crocodiles! That was their main attraction, you could go on a paddle boat ride in the pond and see them all up close. I passed and had drinks at the bar instead. Our night at the hotel consisted of young adults being at a hotel. Enough said.

The next day we went to Kakum national park and went on a canopy walk!! It was AMAZING! We hiked through the rain forest up to a wooden, tree-house structure that was the door to the maze of hanging paths that overlooked the most lush trees I have ever seen. Stepping onto the path was exhilarating. Below me was the home of thousands of exotic animals and insects and above me was the hot hazy sky of Ghana. I was walking through the sky of the rain forest. We walked on 7 different paths and every time I tried to take a picture with my SLR the canopy bridge would sway and my heart would sink from the fear of falling into the thick brush beneath me. Obviously, the structure was very strong, and there was no way I would have fallen, but you can’t help but to feel that way.

Once the walk was done, on our way out, we passed people selling fresh coconuts, palm wine, and coco beans. I wasn’t a fan of the coconut milk or the palm wine, but the coco beans!!! Oh my goodness. Each bean inside of the thick yellow fruit was white and covered in a slimy, transparent goo that was so sweet and so delicious. I sucked all of the goo from each bean dry and spit it out into the woods around me. The slick, slimy texture on my tongue was really weird but strangely appealing. Most people didn’t feel the same as me and stuck to the palm wine and coconuts.

Cape Coast is known to be one of the “must go to” places in Ghana. And I agree. There are lots of things to do and see and it is very tourist friendly. I’m really happy I was able to experience these activities, but I think I would rather see one of the other slave castles and stick to the less touristy activities like exploring markets or taking tro-tros to random beaches for the weekend on a whim. I love that we have planned trips to show us around, and I think this trip was really beneficial for me at the beginning of my time here, but I don’t think I’ll need to do those things again. There is a lot to do in Ghana, but I like just living here. That is enough of an experience for me for this trip I think.


Volta Region post is coming next!! Keep your eyes out!


Until Next Time,


Ghana v. Sudan and “The Middle”

Last Sunday, March 24th, a large group of exchange students went on a one day trip to Kumasi to watch the World Cup qualifying game between Ghana and Sudan. The ride to Kumasi is approximately 5-6 hours. So we left ISH at around 6am to be early enough to find seats for the game, which started at 4pm.

As we approached the stadium in Kumasi we stopped at a gas station. All around us people were selling Ghana paraphernalia, and we went crazy. Throwing Cedis out of our window, we collected our Ghana goodies that we would parade around in support of our host country. We bought flags, sweat bands, hats, glasses, Band-Aids painted as face stickers, and noise makers. The adrenaline made the fatigue from the ride disappear and we were all suddenly ready to go crazy for Ghana.

When we parked at the stadium we all filed out. We had two people in charge of around 50 of us. It was crazy. People were everywhere selling things, trying to get to their seats, trying to get tickets, trying to steal things off of you. It was really overwhelming. Once we found the line to get into the stadium the mass of us claimed our space; however, since we do not know the way here, most of us were cut multiple times and shoved around by other Ghanaians.

By the time I was about 15 feet away from the gate in, I was being pressed up against the person in front of me by the man behind me. We were squished like sardines. I figured out that the intense wall we created was to ensure that the mass of people pushing into us perpendicularly (trying to cut the line) wouldn’t be able to get in. People were yelling, shoving, and bursting any kind of comfort bubble I may have had. At one point people were shoving so much that someone thought they would be able to zip open my purse… tisk tisk, I gave them a, “you’re an idiot” look and turned my purse to the other side.

It took about 10 minutes to get past that 15 feet into the stadium, but when I did it was such a relief. Eventually everyone got through and we practically ran up to the seats to try and find enough for all of us. We were a little spread out, but basically had a huge middle section right under a group of Ghanaians that had a trombone and trumpet player and drummers who kept music going the entire game! Everyone was dancing, singing, screaming, and making as much noise as they could. It was marvelous.

Ghana won 4-0, the 3rd shot was a header in! It was phenomenal… all boundaries based on race and culture melted in those 4 moments when Ghana scored. I cheered like they were my team. They were my team. For that brief celebration, I felt Ghanaian in a way, dancing and cheering with the people behind me and my friends next to me. Such a marvelous feeling. By the end of the game my voice was hoarse and my body was starting to lose adrenaline, but we still had a 6 hour ride home.

We got home a little past midnight. That Sunday marked halfway, halfway of my time here, halfway of this entire experience. I joke a lot about the “Middle” a lot. The middle is this in between time from our first experiences and culture shock, and whatever lies ahead of us. This is probably the hardest point of the trip. Hopefully, it won’t get any harder. But I must say that studying abroad is not easy. I would recommend it for every student, but it is for growth in addition to exploration and fun. The growth is hard.

There are a lot of people who are feeling really homesick, I admit, I’m one of them. I’ve never really been one to feel homesick. I’ve been away from “home” a thousand times for weeks on end away from the people I love. But here… I’m away from everything I know and have: people, food, weather, internet, a library, books, homework, human touch. Absolutely everything here is different. It’s so different that it really can’t even be compared to America, to my life at school or at home. Everything is new, and I’m over the newness, the shock, the excitement. Now I’m just living and it’s pretty lonely sometimes.

I think loneliness can be really good, I think it has taught me a lot about how to be alone and how to be happy alone. But I’ve learned lots of that over the past 2 ½ months. I think what’s really getting to me at this point is the lack of contact I have with people. I have two close friends here that are with my program, but in all actuality they aren’t my people, and we don’t embrace each other. I haven’t been hugged in over 2 months… that kills. It’s also really hard when I just want to talk to someone back home and I can’t because of internet issues.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it here and I couldn’t be happier for choosing Ghana as my study abroad country, but I’m growing in so many ways and it’s hard.

There are only 4 weeks of class left then we have a week break for studying prior to a month of finals. I have at least one final every week of May, so I’ll be busy studying. I’m kinda bummed because some people have huge chunks of time to travel, but I’ve decided to spend my money on fabric instead of going to the Northern region (which I’m sure would be great, but I’m not too interested in a 14 hour bus ride). From now until the 26th when I leave, I have markers of events to look forward to. Almost every weekend there is something planned. Before I leave I want to take one more trip to Kumasi for more fabric shopping and to the fancy beach where they sell the most delicious pineapple.

Despite any hard times and the fact that I’m so dirty (lol), things are going well. I’m really excited for the next two months and I plan on making the best of every moment I can. I have yet to know whether or not I’ll be able to come back for the fall semester, but I really hope so because I think I could gain so much more if I came back here with a fresh start and some new energy.

Keep an eye out for more posts!! They’ll be coming I promise!

Until next time,


Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

I am on my spring break… it’s not much of a break. We had Good Friday off and we’ll have tomorrow off as well for Easter celebrations. However, it’s interesting because for such a Christian nation, Easter is really not as important of a holiday as I would have expected. Every person I asked said they weren’t really doing anything special, just church (like usual). When I asked my roommate about how Easter seems like it’s a bigger deal in America than here she said in her sassy voice, “This is when Christ died.” Hmm.. I suppose she has a point, but at the same time, this culture celebrates funerals as if they are bigger than weddings. There are giant parties with tons of food and a parade of people dancing to music. So why so solemn at Christ’s death?

Regardless of their reasons for not having large celebrations (it’s really probably just because there is no bunny in this culture), I did what I could to experience Easter here. So I went to church this morning at 10am with my friend Rachel who attends church every Sunday. The church is on campus about a 30 minute walk away, but we left just in time to catch the air-conditioned shuttle! When we got there the seats were all full so we sat right outside of the main seating area, which just happened to be where all the babies and their mom’s and grandma’s were (score!).

I’m not super religious, but I had a wonderful time at church. The energy of that place when the choir sang was incredible. We were all dancing and singing our hearts out and I understood the community that people go there to have. It was pretty incredible. During thanks so many people came up to Rachel and me that we didn’t even leave our seats. Children and their mothers, fathers, and elders alike smiled at us as if we were just another face in the crowd… which we were, but sometimes being white really makes you stand out here. It felt really good to just pray and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with no worry about doing anything wrong, because I was accepted, in the eyes of God and by these people that worship this God we shared today. I think I might go back to church with Rachel more often… I didn’t think that I needed a community during this trip, but it might do me a lot of good.

Rachel and I managed to get on the bus back to ISH before it filled up and bought breakfast (fruit, bread, juice) from the night market to go with our Easter candy we bought last night at this fancy grocery called Koala in Osu. Last night we also had a lovely dinner at Bella Roma’s (an Italian place) and all spent GHC 50 on the most delicious food I’ve ever had it seems like. Haha, not really, it was just really nice to experience something that was familiar. But all of that is beside the point.

So after breakfast I took a nap (I woke up at 5am to skype and do a bunch of chores) and now the rest of the night will be like it always is: slow, relaxing, calm. I usually like to spend my evenings skyping friends and family, watching movies, or playing fruit ninja on my friend’s IPad. I don’t go out much here, I’m not really a fan of the party scene and because of a lot of factors, my alcohol tolerance is so low that I don’t really feel comfortable going out to bars. But the alone time I have here has taught me a lot about how to be alone… I never thought that was really something to learn.

Anyway, it’s been a good weekend. I have a lot to talk about that I haven’t gotten to and I apologize for falling so far behind on my blog posts. My next post is going to skip over a lot of things and talk about my trip to Kumasi last weekend and “The Middle.” Below there are the blog posts that I want to post… hopefully I get to all of them!

  1. Cape Coast
  2. Volta Region
  3. Esther and George’s Wedding (my roommate’s sister)
  4. The Registration process for picking classes
  5. “What do American’s think about Ghana?”
  6. Shai Hills day trip
  7. Why Ghanaians hate Obama—Gay rights
  8. Group Project
  9. Speaker on AGOA
  10. 1st Kumasi trip—My love for shopping


You’ll be hearing from me soon!!!


Until next time,



A Communication Gap- English vs. English

In my last post I talked a little bit about the dialect of Akan, Twi. What I wanted to do by giving all of you that information is to have an understanding of the simplicity of the language. In this post I will talk about my trouble with communicating because of language. Not necessarily Twi, but English.

In America language is used in many ways to convey thousands of emotions, opinions, and perspectives. In America, I use language to analyze my thoughts, to explain, describe and understand everything that I take in on a daily basis. I like to talk ideas out and converse with family and friends about everything. I believe that my ability to speak, to process my thoughts and ideas by expressing them through spoken word is a quality that defines my intellect. Being here, I know I am no less smart than I was in America, but I often feel that I cannot express myself, I cannot explain what I really mean because the language doesn’t let me. From what I have observed, “being smart” doesn’t really matter here. Does that have something to do with the language and communicating in general? I’m sure it has to do with a lot of things, but this is definitely a part of it.

Twi is simple, there are no prepositions, no differentiation between genders, and many words mean multiple things and never change based on the sentence structure. Everything is based on the context. The sentences themselves are only really applicable when in a real life context. I think creative writing in Twi would be very hard. I’m sure it’s possible, but the simplicity restricts emotion, restricts the ability for one to really express what they are trying to say. I think this is why I think being smart doesn’t matter. I see being smart, in a lot of ways, as being eloquent and being able to successfully convey ideas, here I have yet to hear people do that. There also does not seem to be competition or much drive for school (granted, I talk mainly to girls and girls have more recently entered education), whereas in America people compete to be the best, to be the smartest. It’s quite interesting.

The simplicity seems to be the same for the dialect of English people in Ghana speak. It is NOT the same language. Not really. Perhaps the rules are the same, but because of the way they were taught English as a second language after a Ghanaian language, versus the English I have learned, there are stark differences. The difference is in the simplicity of the language. The English here is simple. Often people leave out prepositions and use very short sentences. Besides the accent (which is easier to understand every day), the lack of vocabulary and complex sentences make the English here oddly hard to understand, certainly hard to adapt to. I find that Ghanaians have a hell of a time understanding me, especially when I am explaining a concept or a thought (which is something I have basically given up doing here because of how unsuccessful it is). So I have learned to make my sentences fit theirs, I have transformed my English into a simplified version just so I can communicate. Honestly, just so I can get through my day.

When I started to first notice this struggle for me I talked to my mom about it. She brought up an interesting idea that makes perfect sense to me. What if the structure and simplicity of their language is the cause for the simplicity of their English, for the limited expression in words? I must say, that seems right to me. As I further ponder this idea, I think about what it means to be limited in speech globally. Does the inability to speak eloquently affect Ghanaians in the international community? In development? I have no idea, but it makes me think about the importance of language in cultures and how language may actually affect cultures in more ways than just communicating.


On another note, I took my first Twi exam yesterday. It was only 2 pages and took me 30 minutes. It was harder than I expected. It was basically translation Twi-English, English-Twi with some grammar questions about negatives and a portion where I talk about myself. The sentences on this exam were similar in difficulty to the sentences I would have seen at the end of 1st semester French or the beginning of 2nd semester. We are flying! I’m excited to start learning how to barter in Twi so I can go shopping in the markets!


Until next time,



The language I am learning while at the University of Ghana is “Twi.” There are 10 regions in Ghana: Greater Accra Region, Volta Region, Central Region, Western Region, Eastern Region, Ashanti Region, Brong Ahafo Region, and in the North are the “Northern Territories:” Upper East, Upper West, Northern Region. Twi is spoken in Central, Western, Eastern, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. Because of these many regions and the different people in these regions there are many languages spoken in Ghana. Twi is a dialect of Akan, which is a main language here. The other dialect of Akan is Fante. Fante and Twi both have many versions of their language. So what I am really learning at the U of Ghana is the Asante version of the Twi dialect of the language Akan. Pretty complicated huh?

Twi is my favorite class. My professor Kofi is hilarious. He helps us with sounds and the pace of speaking by beating his hands on the desk as if it were a drum. He’s a really good drummer. When he does that he says, “I am becoming a drummer boy!” Also, when someone doesn’t know something, or he forgets something he goes, “Ah! Kill the student!” or “Ah! Kill the teacher!” When something is easy or makes sense he goes, “Halleluiah!”  and then everyone responds, “Praise the lord!” It’s a very interactive class filled with talking to each other and to him.

So just for fun, here are some basic rules about Twi that set it apart from other languages:

1)      It’s an SVO language: 1. Subject, 2. Verb, 3. Object

2)      Golden Rule—Subject: pronoun + verb = one unit

So basically if I want to say, “I drink water,” I and drink become one word.

I = me, drink = nom, water = nsuo… “menom nsuo”

3)      No inflection or conjugation

I drink water is then the same regardless of the sex of the person. For more than one person the subject will change but the verb (nom) will never change.

4)      Most modifiers come AFTER the item they modify

5)      NO PREPOSITIONS!!! Woot! I love this rule.

These rules are the basics for the whole language. Because of how much simpler it is than French (which is the only other language I have studied), I really think I’m going to be able to pick it up pretty easily. The hardest parts are some of the sounds and letters that don’t exist in the English language. However, every day I practice a bit more with people from the market, the porters, the cleaning ladies, my roommate, and friends in class so hopefully I nail those sounds!

This information will further help you understand my next blog post about communication and differences in English!

Until next time.

City Tour of Accra

The first trip that ISEP took us on was a tour of Accra, the capital city of Ghana and the city that we are in. During this trip we were given basic information about Ghana and toured many different areas such as the home of W.E.B. Dubois, the Kwame Nkrumah memorial, the art market, and a Chinese restaurant. This was my first real experience in Ghana besides what I had seen on campus and it shaped a lot of my first impressions and understandings of the history and the culture. Since I am writing this blog weeks after the experience I will be basing the information written mainly on the notes I wrote during the trip in addition to some recollections of our experiences.

First off, some basic preliminary information:

-Ghana is the 2nd largest producer of cacao in the world. They say that the chocolate in Ghana is some of the best in the whole world. I must say, I have tasted the chocolate and in no way, shape, or form, is Ghanaian chocolate better than regular American chocolate. I believe that the cacao is better, that I do not dispute, but what Ghana is extremely lacking is dairy. There is no cheese, no milk, no cream, nothing. All of the ice cream is created from solid milk cultures and the one and only cheese I have found (and eat probably every day because I miss dairy so much) has a shelf-life of 1 year and does not need refrigeration. They sell soy milk… but that’s just not the same. Therefore, the chocolate is not creamy! It doesn’t melt on my tongue and make me want to eat a whole bar. I rarely eat chocolate here. Because it’s so hot, it’s often melty and makes me want to drink milk… which isn’t available. Sometimes, however, I do indulge in a slightly melty snickers bar when I am missing America.

-Ghana is a hybrid of an American and British system. They are slowly moving away from a British system of government to an American one. This can be seen in their current government structure since they have a President, Vice President, along with a Prime Minister. I am not educated enough about their system to go into any further depth than that. However, I was also told during orientation that the University is shifting in a similar way through their education practices. More and more professors are shifting from a British teaching style to a more American one. From only 2 weeks of classes I can see the difference in teaching styles from more traditional professors to more modern ones.

-Ghana has a well-trained disciplined military and it is divided into 10 regions. The regions I do not know off of the top of my head (I learned them in my Twi class) but I remember some: the Greater Accra region, the Eastern region, the Volta region, and the Western region. I am in the “Greater Accra Region 1” There are more than this, and within the north there are regions also. North and South Ghana are very separate. From what I have understood, the North is very rural and relies more heavily on traditional, tribal forms of government. Although there is an established republic in Ghana, the influence and power that is prevalent in Southern Ghana does not necessarily reach Northern Ghana. At the market I once saw a woman selling porridge, she had scars on her face that looked like whiskers. I asked my friend Charles (who grew up in Ghana until he was 11 and then moved to America) why she had them, or in general why so many Ghanaians seems to have these intentional marks. He explained to me that she was from the North, he mentioned how she didn’t speak Twi, the local language and most widely known language of Ghana. He explained that in the North, different tribes have different markings for their people, so in times of war you can differentiate the people of each tribe. He described to me a boy he saw once with small slashes all over his upper body.

-Religion distribution: This was brought up after we passed a Mormon church. Apparently, there is a large Mormon population in West Africa, although we were not told the % in Ghana.

55% Christian

33% Muslim

8% Traditional

-Since the discovery of oil in Ghana there has be a large increase in new construction. Many of the places we passed through Accra had beautiful new structures. We were told that many of these structures didn’t exist 10 years ago.

– Some common newspapers in Ghana are the Daily Graphic, Ghana Times, Daily Guide, and The Graphic. The Graphic is known for giving a lot of information about the country.

-Accra is divided into sections based on colonialism. Old Accra is the popular downtown area and is also known as the Dutch section. There are 3 main sections: the Dutch section, Danish section, and British section (Jamestown). It is very common to hear people with European names in these sections.

-The “Sea View Hotel” is the oldest hotel in Accra.

Those are just some facts we learned on our way into the city with some of my own thoughts and understandings of them. Now I will talk about some of the sites we visited and their relevance to Ghanaian culture based on the notes I have taken. *All of this information is purely based on what our tour guide told us, if there are any discrepancies, I apologize and I urge people to comment and correct me.

The first place we visited was the home of W.E.B. Dubois. As many may know, W.E.B. Dubois was an African Activist. He was first invited to Ghana by Kwame Nkrumah during his attempt to create an Encyclopedia of Africa. He was a very important figure in Ghana and to this day is still greatly honored. He was an extraordinary advocate for black people and preached in favor of their rights. His wife, Shelley, was also influential. She was the first elected broadcasting official for GTV. W.E.B. Dubois is buried at his home, here in Ghana. When we visited it seemed as if the exhibition of his home was closed so we only looked around for approximately 3-5 minutes.


On the road we passed the “Flagstaff House” which was explained to us as “the White House of Ghana.” Currently, the Vice President is living here while the President (who is supposed to be living here) is in a different part of Accra, on the coast. We also passed this great roundabout, created after the independence of 1957, that had a large monument in the center with a black star at the top-center of it and it is surrounded by flags. The black star represents the black people and each flag represents each country in Africa that gained independence. We then drove passed the National Theater. Apparently this is where large concerts and other large-venue entertainment is help. It was built by the Chinese in a shape of a ship. Tonight (2/17/13), the Vagina Monologues are going to be showing there. I thought about going, but I feel pretty sick and I think I just need to relax.

My favorite place that we visited was the Kwame Nkrumah memorial. It is located in the old British polo fields before Ghanaian independence. It was kind of like a fuck you to Britain because the British wouldn’t let any Ghanaians go into the polo fields, so when they took their freedom they took this exclusive space to show off their freedom. Kwame Nkrumah was a revolutionist during the independence. HE WAS SO AWESOME! I only have a small history of his work and influence in Ghana and Africa, but I will do my best to educate you all! (Sorry this history is kind of choppy, it’s how it was told to me!)

He was born in 1909, his birthday is now known as “Founder’s Day” in Ghana. He studied economics and sociology at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He then went on to receive his PhD at the London School of Economics.  When he came back to Ghana he was a part of “the Big 6” which was a group, from what I gathered, of revolutionary men in Ghana. They are the 6 men that are on every Cedi (Ghanaian bills). After he left the Big 6 he created the socialist group the CPP. This is currently one of the most popular political groups in Ghana. In 1950 Dr. Nkrumah led positive action against colonialism with strikes and demonstrations. Because he “brought about chaos” he was sent to jail. While he was in jail he was elected because of the popularity he gained from his actions. Sudan was the first African country to receive independence, but Ghana was soon after, being the first black nation south of the Sahara to get independence. One by one, other African nations followed. Ghana received independence in 1957, and in July of 1960 Ghana became a Republic. Dr. Nkrumah was the first president of Ghana and he is cherished. He died of prostate cancer in 1972. He was an only child and died 4 years before his mother did. At the University of Ghana, our African Studies department is named after him, as are many things in this country.

Kwame Nkrumah was a huge advocate of socialism and African Unity. He also believed strongly in women. He created the All African Conference for Women to encourage women in politics. He was rewarded several peace awards from many different countries as well as an award from Muammar al-Gaddafi for his contributions to the African Union and the Libya-Ghana relationship. He also wrote 14 books and 5 pamphlets. His dissertation is titled: Mind and Though in Primitive Society: an Ethno-Philosophy.

In the memorial museum there were pictures of him with famous leaders from all over the world including: the Queen, JFK, Fidel Castro, the Prime Minister of Britain, and Chairman Mao. I think the relationship he had with world leaders is really interesting. When Western aid stopped flowing into Ghana, Dr. Nkrumah disregarded the world politics of the times during the Western fight against communism and became buddy-buddy with Chairman Mao. Dr. Nkrumah was a huge advocate of helping his people, doing what was best for Ghana. I think it’s really awesome how he maintained good relationships with such different world leaders at the same time. I find him fascinating.

In the garden of the memorial there are trees with different signs on them. Apparently, people (many respected leaders) would come from all over the world and plant things for him. For example, Nelson Mandela planted a Mango Tree there in 1991. The garden and tomb are really gorgeous and I highly recommend going there if you get the chance! It’s a must see on a tour of Accra.

Next on our adventure was the art market! This was probably my favorite part of the day. One of my main excitments about coming to Ghana was to go shopping, mainly for clothes (which I will have to talk about later!!!), but also for wood carvings, jewelry, and paintings. The art market was filled with musical instruments, paintings, fabric, wood carvings… really anything you could think of! My favorite things were some of the masks, and the paintings. I met an artist named “Alex Jaguar.” He had some really beautiful paintings of Ghanaian women with their babies or selling things from atop their heads. I love that part of the culture here… women wear their babies around their backs with fabric all day while they work. And you should see what some women can carry on their heads!! I couldn’t even imagine the weight that they can control. If you buy something from them, and the tro tro starts to move and they didn’t get the money or didn’t give you change, they will run after you with their goods on their heads to catch up. It’s honestly amazing. Anyways, we were advised to leave everything in the bus while we checked out the art market because it was just to see, not to buy anything yet. They want us to wait to buy things so we get a feel of how to barter and an idea of what things cost. I can’t wait to go back with a little more experience and an idea of what to get people as presents.

For lunch we had Chinese. I’m not really a fan of Chinese to begin with, so I was extremely apprehensive about Chinese in Ghana. Apparently, however, there is a large Chinese influence/influx here. It’s quite a problem, actually. It’s terrible, but Ghanains as I have seen are rather racist towards Chinese people. The reason? Well apparently there are Chinese immigrants that are coming to Ghana and setting up businesses that sell goods a lot cheaper than Ghanaians and it is hurting their economy. When Ghanaians tell me about this they get very angry, so I stopped asking! But the food… hmm. It was SO SPICY. They put “pepper” (which sounds like “pep-eh”) in EVERYTHING. So I didn’t like it, but that’s ok! I had the MOST AMAZING Thai food on Friday night in Osu, so that redeemed the bad Chinese.

This is a very scattered post about my trip in Accra, but I think that’s how it should be. I’ve been here a month already and looking back at my first weekend in Accra I was really scattered, and for a good reason! I was really scattered. I still am. This city is big and to think that after only one semester I will be some kind of experienced pro is insane. I could live here for years and still find more things to explore here. When I first got here I was so excited about getting to know everything, the language, food, streets, and transportation. But as time goes on, I have redirected what this semester means to me. I am here to study, to experience a different culture, not master it. I’m not an ethnographer, I’m simply a student and I am simply living. I find that I need a lot of down time to reflect on even the simplest things. I sleep a lot because it’s just more exhausting here and a lot of times my body (because I’m tired or sick) just can’t keep up with me. I was upset with myself about that because I felt like I was missing out, that I wasn’t exploring enough… what… that’s crazy. Being here is exploration! I am exploring myself and I am learning new things every second. So pardon the scattered feeling, but that’s how I’m feeling, and it’s ok.

Until next time!!

Culture Gap- Sports and Showers


Today with a series of events I feel extraordinarily overwhelmed by negativity because of my actions and how they must be wrong in some way. It’s really hard to negotiate and communicate with others when there is such a large culture and language gap as there is between me and Ghanaians.

Last Monday there was a meeting for international students regarding sports. There were many options and club teams we could join. I was interested in doing track, most of the girls in my ISEP group wanted to play on the ISH soccer team. So we signed up for what we wanted with an excitement that playing sports would give us an opportunity to work our bodies in this time of transition, make friends, and have fun.

So I started running last week at 5:30am with the assistant track coach and another girl from ISEP, Carrie. It was brutal. Besides the fact that I haven’t been on a track team since high school and I haven’t consistently run since lacrosse last spring, the run we did was hard. It was a solid and fast 30 minute run up hill the entire time. I’m sure that is a great workout for those who are a bit more in shape than me, but It was really hard and it took me 4 days to be able to walk normally again. Despite this, I ran every morning at this idea that I would be on the track team. However, practices became more scarce as mornings would come about and the assistant coach wouldn’t be there, whether it was because she overslept or practice time changed or whatever. No matter the reason, I stopped trying to meet with her and decided to just work out with the soccer players.

I started playing soccer this Monday. There were only 6 girls who were still committed to playing from the 15 of last week. On Monday our club coach, TG, told us we would be practicing with the University of Ghana Women’s team, so that their coach could see our level. I have never played soccer before in my life. But apparently, I did a good job working as defense… and I genuinely had a great time doing so. I was excited to be on my International Student Hostel team, playing in random games against other halls for fun. That’s not what it became. Tuesday and today we continued to play with the Women’s team and today our coach didn’t even come with us. Today it was serious. This had no longer become a club sport. We were thrown onto the Women’s team against our desire and, as it seemed in practice today, against the Ghanaian girl’s desire also.

And this is where culture and communication play a key role. I quit track because I couldn’t keep communication, I had trouble understanding what was expected of me, and honestly I wasn’t willing to do what I really would have needed to do to be someone who could contribute anything. I joined soccer because our team needed girls and I can run fine. But today during drills we (the white people) were looked down upon. The coaches threw me into every exercise with the ball when I clearly had no idea what I was doing. I really needed to take time on the side with the assistant coach and practice the basics, I just wasn’t ready for the exercises today. Being a part of them made me nervous and I was continually being told to just relax, just relax. No one saying that was going to actually get me to relax, I was passed relaxed. I was in an environment that was foreign and did not feel safe, I did not feel wanted. I wasn’t wanted.

During team drills there was another communication barrier between the white players and the Ghanaians. Today there were only 3 of us white girls. Whenever I would slightly touch a Ghanaian or fight to get the ball (the only thing I can try to do with my skill), they would make their defensive sounds and their expressions and body language would turn negative. But on the other hand, they would topple us. They would swing their arms, push us with their bodies and kick us to get the ball. I understand all of that, but only if it goes both ways. I felt like I couldn’t play without overstepping boundaries, but if I wasn’t trying hard enough the coach would yell at me to try harder. It was really confusing and extremely stressful. I thought I was playing club. This is not club, this is serious. And to be quite honest, I’m not ready to deal with this communication gap. I just don’t understand what they are trying to say to me, what they are trying to convey with their body language and sounds. To be on a team means to be able to communicate with a trust each other, to support each other… they wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. It was really frustrating and so Jordan (one of the other white girls with me) and I decided that we would try to start up an ISH team again because playing with the Women’s team was just too hard for us in so many ways.

So as we were walking back to our dorm we were pretty confused and upset by practice so we decided that we would go take showers and then meet downstairs for breakfast. I wanted to shower next to Jordan so we could chat and vent a little bit more about how uncomfortable we felt to try and just get it out. But on my way to the shower a cleaning lady (NOT my auntie Amelia) yelled at me. She said I wasn’t allowed to go to the other bathroom because there is a bathroom right by my room. I have been to that bathroom tons and have never had a problem. But today I guess I was doing something wrong. I tried to explain to her that I was going to shower next to my friend and she just wasn’t having it. Because of our gap of communication I think there was a lot each of us missed talking to each other, so I just went to the bathroom to shower next to Jordan. When Jordan got out the cleaning lady chewed her out, literally yelled at her for a solid 2 minutes while she was naked in her towel. It was awful.

I don’t know what’s going on today, if it’s my own ignorance or foreignness that is making my morning terrible, but it is. This is the first time I’ve felt homesick. And it’s not that I am homesick in the sense that I miss people, I just miss America. This morning, I just want to be somewhere where I’m not criticized for actions that I don’t understand when no one will explain to me the problem. It’s hard sometimes not having a break because being white constantly makes me not belong. I feel really out of place and not welcomed for the first time and it was definitely a smack in the face. I’m glad that I am experiencing something hard, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I think today I’m going to surround myself with foreigners and just stick to things I know and am comfortable with. I think every white person should be in a scenario in which they are the minority, the only white person in a place where being white means something, whatever that is, to the culture. It’s really hard and it’s a nervousness and a discomfort I have never felt before.


Food in the first 2 weeks, 1/23/2013

This post is going to give you a bit of an idea of what I have been eating and how I have been feeling about food in Ghana. Food is a huge aspect of culture and I think it’s extremely important to be outgoing and try new things. However, especially in the first week, I was very hesitant about food here, not because I thought it would all be bad or I was being stubborn, but rather because I was trying to assess my own body and be smart. Going into a foreign country that has food and water that is potentially more contaminated than one is used to, it is smart to take baby steps into changing your diet. I started this blog in my notebook earlier, but now it is 1/29/2013 and I am almost confident I can try anything now…but I will still do so gradually.

So… what do I eat? During the first week, orientation week, ISEP provided us with food. There are a couple of women on the first floor of ISH1 that use the kitchen there as their own. They sell meals there all day for about GHC 5-7 (Ghanaian Cedis… which are = to about 50 American cents each). Every morning we would eat breakfast provided by them. The breakfast options included:

Pancake A gooey, thicker version of a crepe. They don’t really use dairy here so it’s like a milkless pancake… or maybe they use evaporated milk in it. I’m not sure. The first time I tried it I thought it was raw. I had an extremely hard time getting it down with the syrup that tasted like watered down honey. Later in orientation I began to crave it, and now I really enjoy them. They are squishy, what I imagine underdone banana pancakes to be like. But they have a good taste. It’s weird… but I like them now.


This is the pancake with the fruit juice

Omelet, bread roll I never got the omelet with bread roll..

Fried egg, sausage, bread roll  This was my favorite! An egg scrambled with onions, peppers, sausage and tomatoes, without milk is fried in a skillet, then two thick pieces of the most delicious, soft, chewy, white Ghanaian bread are fried with it and you have a sandwich! ( I buy a loaf of bread every other day (they are one cedi each) because it is so amazingly tasty… and it keeps my caloric intake up).

Oatmeal  I never had the oatmeal, but my friends did. It was served with a can of evaporated milk and white sugar. It was not thick like porridge, but runny and very unappealing.

Each breakfast also came with a choice of Nes Café coffee or fruit juice. The fruit juice comes in a glass bottle (like everything!! Here, in order for a place to get more pop or juice they have to return the glass bottles that they sold… people will hunt you down here to get their glass bottle back, or they will charge you 2 cedi) and it is like a strange, less-sweet version or tropical punch or V8-Splash. I don’t like it.

In the beginning, when I first wrote this blog, I was having a lot of trouble with food. Every day it is getting better and I have started to crave foods. For dinners during orientation we often had some combination of the following:

Jolof rice, white rice, or fried rice Jolof rice is like a spicy yellow rice. It’s pretty dry, and I’m not a huge fan. The others are self-explanatory.

Chicken or fish, or both  I’m not a huge fan of the fish, but I absolutely love the chicken here.

Noodles  The noodles were my favorite thing in the beginning. Go figure. They are kind of like Chinese noodles, dark with vegetables and oil, but they are super skinny, in between spaghetti and angel hair. I still really love them, but I don’t get them as much because they are harder to find than rice.

Stew I don’t really know what it is. It is this red, semi-sweet, semi-spicy sauce that you eat with rice and chicken. I couldn’t really pinpoint flavors because that is not a talent of mine, but I eat it at any meal I can… it’s really good and adds a lot of flavor to food without being as hot as pepper.

Fried plantains I hated these at first… now I LOVE THEM! Today (1/29/13) I went to a cheap food place on campus and got 10 pieces of fried plantains!! I don’t know if you know how much that is… but it’s a TON. That was in addition to my rice, stew, and chicken (My entire meal was 4 cedis… $2). Fried plantains are a sweet, soft snack that are best when warm. They have a bit of a crispy outside (the crispier the better to me) and a really soft, starchy inside. They are delicious.

Spicy mixed vegetables I never liked these or really ate them… they were too spicy for me

Pepper for spice  I thought for the longest time that “pepper” was called “pep-eh” because that’s how Ghanaians pronounce pepper. I have been calling it “pep-eh” since I got here and just recently realized I was just saying pepper in a Ghanaian accent. I can’t eat pepper, it is SO SPICY. It kills me every time I eat it… so maybe in a few more weeks.

Other things I like and have eaten: FRENCH FRIES!! They are called chips, but they are probably the most delicious fries I have ever had. I had them for the first time at “Tacobells,” a restaurant that does not have any tacos whatsoever, just regular Ghanaian food.


This is a picture of french fries at Tacobells, I also had chicken and coleslaw. We are told not to eat coleslaw or fresh vegetables because a lot of times they are not clean and will make us sick… so I didn’t eat that.

Beer– My favorite beer is this one, Club. The others are “Star” and “Stone.” They come in very large bottles. All other alcohol is served warm because there is no ice here, so I am a fan of the ice cold beer.


This is my drank.

I have to tell you something I forgot, and I’m not sure how. We went on a trip to a beach on the 20th and we were served grilled pineapple with rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I have never had such a sensual experience with food as I did with that pineapple. I will take a trip to that beach just so I can eat 30 grilled pineapples.


Rachel is eating the delicious pineapple with sausage on a stick in her left hand.

The meal we had at the beach!

The meal we had at the beach!

Things I am interested in eating soon: Fou-fou and peanut soup.

Thanks for reading!