What I’ve been up to during my last weeks in Ghana.
Finals are already here! It’s difficult to believe how quickly this semester has flown by. Currently, it is revision week during which there are no lectures, giving students adequate time to study. However, practical exams (such as the one for my traditional drumming class) usually occur during this week. My other four exams are spread out over the two weeks after this one (Regional Development; Regional Geography of East Africa; Transportation Studies; and Gender and Politics). Compared to UCLA’s tight quarter system, UG gives students at least two to three extra weeks to revise and review material. Although this may seem preferable, I actually feel restless. I want to be done with the semester already, so as to have more time to travel around Ghana. Alas, my last final is scheduled for the Saturday before my flight out of Ghana (12.12.16), so I cannot travel on a long-distance trip to Northern Ghana as I hoped.
But instead of remaining in the university bubble, I have been enjoying my last weeks in Ghana by studying in cafés and exploring more of Accra. Finding a good café/study space has been crucial to my studies since reliable WiFi is difficult to come by in Ghana. Professors at UG expect students to do additional outside research on lecture topics, so doing internet research and suggested readings is highly recommended. For most of my exams, I will need to write three essays chosen from a series of six prompts within 2.5 hours. Therefore, having a strong foundation of the material is necessary to do well. Fortunately, there are a couple places with decent WiFi nearby UG — including Golden Kreme, Café Mondo, and Second Cup located within A&C Mall and Accra Mall. Studying out in Accra has also given me a glimpse at other Ghanaians and expats that live here, from families to working professionals and other students. It’s especially interesting to see the substantial number of multiethnic families in which one of the parents are Ghanaian. In addition, during my time here, I’ve observed that there are sizable communities of Lebanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino Ghanaians as well as other Arab and Asian groups.
In my free time at night, I have been dancing out in the city and hanging out with the good friends I’ve made here. An open-air restaurant/bar called Afrikiko hosts a salsa night every Wednesday, and even includes short classes beforehand. Two things I’ve learned here is that Ghanaians really like to dance and they like loud, energetic music! At least a hundred people crowd the dance floor (equal parts Ghanaian and expats) to salsa and do line dances, like the Cupid Shuffle, Macarena, and Cha Cha Slide. Even though I’m not very experienced in salsa, dancing with more experienced Ghanaian dancers have helped me improve just a bit. In addition to salsa, my friend Mathew and I have found a small swing dance community. Every Thursday night, ten or so people get together at the Impact Hub to learn some swing moves and have a social dance. Having danced a bit of swing back in the US, I enjoyed brushing up on my skills as well as meeting Ghanaians and other expats interested in swing. Afterwards we would usually go to a burger joint called Burger & Relish to dance some more at their Acoustic Night (a live band called Jollof Balls plays every Thursday night).
During my time here, I’ve realized that it’s important to not only study and travel to tourist spots, but also explore the community around you. My most memorable experiences involve these fun nights out in Accra. Bonding with my study abroad friends and meeting other expats and Ghanaians have given me a better taste of what Accra and contemporary Ghanaian culture is like. I’ve learned and experienced so much these past few months that I can’t believe already winding down to an end. It’s been quite a journey, but I hope I make the most of the rest of my trip.