Preface: This entry is being posted a month after my return from Ghana. I hand wrote this entry while still in Ghana, yet, due to laptop issues which are explained below, it has been sitting in my notebook collecting dust until I was now finally in possession of a working computer and able to type it up.
At the start of this trip I pictured myself actively blogging. Like any typical study abroad student, I created a personal blog and shared the link on Facebook, full of overzealous excitement to share my experiences with family and friends. Then several days into my six week stay, my laptop decided it could survive no longer. Sometimes when you are thousands of miles from home and in the midst of integrating into a completely foreign culture, all you want to do is eat some generic brand chocolate hazelnut spread on freezer chilled bread and watch Friends on your laptop. Alas, such a moment was not in the cards for me. After desperately restarting my laptop ten times over, I grabbed my newly purchased Nokia phone and called the Apple helpline. This phone, reminiscent of those we used in middle school, has volume capabilities that leave much to be desired. After shouting through the phone to be heard and straining to hear him respond in what must have been hushed whispers, the kindly Apple employee determined that he would not be able to adequately help me over the phone. He asked me for my address so he could direct me to the nearest Apple store. I explained that I was studying abroad to which he assured me there are several Apple locations throughout Europe.
“Well, I am in Africa,” I responded.
After a good 20 second pause he said, “Well dang…any chance you’re near Egypt?”
“Oh, well Egypt would be your closest location.” I thanked him kindly for his assistance and hung up.
Seeing as the cab fare to Egypt would be a bit stiff, I decided to try taking it to the local certified Apple reseller, the iShop, in the Accra Mall. I explained my situation, to which they responded that it would take a week for them to run diagnostics. A week seemed a bit prolonged for something that could be solved in under an hour, but by this point I was well accustomed to what we referred to as “Ghana time.” Things just take a little longer here. When I returned a week later to hear the verdict, the employee went to the back room and, while I watched through the translucent wall, tried turning on the computer to little success and returned to tell me the screen would not turn on. This was great, as this intriguing insight simply never occurred to me. So I left the store with a broken laptop having spent 30 cedi to hear information I already knew. This is how I came to be laptop-less on an SOJC study abroad program in a media based internship. But if there is anything I have learned on this trip it is that as long as you are resilient, things have a way of working themselves out. After all my stress, it turned out that my internship has a computer fully equipped with the Adobe Suite at my disposal, so I have been able to produce content for my internship.
Other important things to note: I have fully mastered the tro tro. I have been dreading the tro tro since before I even arrived in Ghana. However, looking back, my concern seems silly. Now that we have been here for almost six weeks, things are starting to feel routine, if not somewhat normal. This realization is something that has struck quite a bit these last few days. Never in my wildest dreams would I have been able to imagine that boarding public transportation, navigating a city and going to work in a West African country would feel normal. I’ve gotten to a point where the things I see on the street no longer surprise me, and my heart no longer fills with dread at the thought of bartering for a cab or boarding a tro tro. It’s fascinating to me how anything – no matter how strange or different or out of your comfort zone – can begin to feel normal after a while. When our plane landed here over a month ago and I caught my first glimpse of Ghana, I thought there was no way I could ever possibly get my footing here. Now, with almost six weeks under my belt and our final few days starting to pass us by, I have to remind myself just how much we have all accomplished. We are so incredibly far from family, friends, and familiarity. Yet, in this incredible, beautiful, welcoming country that many of us may never have otherwise had a chance to experience, we have found a home. In less than a week I will be boarding a plane to Amsterdam, off to start my next adventure. Yet, with that excitement will come sadness. I will be sad to say goodbye to Ghana, to the incredible people I have met, and to the new friends I have made and to the unforgettable experiences I have shared. This program has taught me not only about the world and humankind, but also a great deal about myself. I will take the memories of this trip with me for the rest of my life and cherish each and every one of them. I can’t possible think of a better way to have spent my last summer as a college student!