Upon arriving into Accra, Ghana my first impression was that it reminded me of my many visits to Jamaica. The Island feel was definitely there, the only difference was that the roads were paved. It was a long two days of travel and we arrived late into Accra, Ghana. I really didn’t engage with the city until the next day. I did notice for it to be midnight there was a lot of activity out on the streets. People were everywhere. Ladies carrying trays of meat, snacks, and water on their heads was quite impressive. Then there were men selling anything from cell phones to clothes. The two night hotel stay was very comfortable, however when it came to eating at the hotel for breakfast there wasn’t much to choose from. I really didn’t like a lot of the food, and I knew that before arriving.
Our full day in Accra we went to a shopping mall that really didn’t look much different than our shopping malls in the US. We ate at the mall there you could find a variety of foods, from local cuisine to Italian and American foods; I also saw a Chinese restaurant. In the center of the food court which was open was a play area for the children. The mall was a nice experience.
Next it was off to the Ghanaian Independence Day Celebration, even though Ghanaians became independent in March about 70 years ago they have always celebrated it on July 1. We went to the park where the first Ghanaian President and his wife were laid to rest and was given the history of the park and what it meant to the Ghanaian people. After the park we visited the market where a mob of people were pulling at you to buy from them. A group of guys saved us by performing on their drums, and then taught us how to play. That was a wonderful experience.
The next day we were off to Cape Coast where we would meet our host families. I was excited to meet them. I had spoken to the Mom and their oldest daughter on the phone before arriving to Ghana. Once going to the house I found there was no internet/WiFi. She showed me my living arrangements. I was a little thrown when I was not staying in the main house. There was a room off from the main house that I would be staying in and two other rooms outside of my room that housed the toilet and the other was the shower and sink. When it was time to shower there was no water and frustration and anxiety set in. For me I believe the honeymoon phase end and I really needed to readjust my mindset. We as westerns are so use to things being there like always having running water, not just water but hot water. Here you just don’t know when the government is going to shut of the water. Other challenges were the electricity it could shut off and be off for hours to a day. Still not really having culture shock, but it was leading up to it. When the electricity would shut off is when I really started to miss home, but not really ready to leave, just wanting things to be as they are at home for the necessities. My culture shock really hit when I went to the food market and saw how uncooked meat was out and the flies all over the meat, and it smelled really bad. I was cooking for my host family and the other ladies that were on the trip a Sunday dinner. At that point I almost called the dinner off, but my host mom saw I was becoming overwhelmed and reassured me that the meat was fine and the dinner would be alright. I have never experienced anything like this and did not really understand how anyone could eat that food. My host mom showed me how to clean the meat and the dinner was a success. Just as we were sitting down to eat the electricity went out, so we ate by candle light.
All of my life I have watch documentaries and heard stories from teachers about Africa. I choose Ghana to expand on what I have heard and learned about. Being here for the past 6 days I have learned a lot about myself that has made me appreciate just what I have back home. It has also made me want to learn more about this culture and how the people of this culture can still be happy in spite of the everyday challenges. I have overcome my culture shock with the help of my supportive host family.