I stayed in Ghana a couple of weeks after the official conclusion of our study abroad program. Week six came and went, and all of the new friends I made over the last month and a half were replaced by abandoned boxes of macaroni and cheese, along with dollar packets of ramen and finally a clean kitchen, unencumbered by the dirty mugs, plates, and take-out containers that go with with 15 students living in a house.
Several of them had fresh adventures in Germany, Amsterdam, or Italy to curb the bittersweet feelings that came at the end of the trip, or possibly time with their families, though I had a bunch of books and an empty dining table upstairs. It felt like everyone else’s trip ended with a bang, or at least the definitive ending of stepping on an airplane and leaving, but mine sort of congealed on me. I was in the same place, doing pretty much the same things, but without the company and humor of all the people that I had been around during all free hours for six weeks. Definitely the thing I missed most was being around a bunch of really funny people at all times. The stupid faces people would make in moments of eye contact, or the ribbing at each other once we figured out everyone’s peculiarities and quirks. Or Andy scaring the crap out of me one night when I went to use the bathroom and he thought I was a folkloric Malaysian vampire ghost.
But I got used to that not being there. And it was nice to spread out all my things on the upstairs dining table—computer, notes, food, etc—and finally have no excuses to avoid productivity, even despite my best efforts. I had time to devote my efforts almost exclusively to the feature story I was working on for the Daily Guide.
I also had time to digest Accra, to be alone in the city surrounded by others on my way to work, or while getting food or taking photos somewhere. It was easier to become friendly with strangers without one of my classmates beside me—all of whom inevitably represented a kind of easy conversation out in times of discomfort or opportunity.
Instead, my thoughts were free to take in Accra. I could finally have spooky candle-fueled seances in the house when the power went out (which was still all the time). I began to recognize the kid selling coconuts on the corner outside of the house. I actually met the woman that I bought water from near my work. It was easier to become a part of the city by myself, even if it was in a small, temporary way.