If there’s one thing that Ghana has taught me so far, it’s that things almost never go as planned — and sometimes, that’s okay.
I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. It was the day I’d been anticipating since my plane touched down here in Ghana: the first day of my internship at Starr FM, a radio station in Accra.
My roommates and I got ready in nervous silence. Workplace dress code is relatively formal in Ghana, so we dressed in nice skirts and blouses (a definite change from Nike shorts and Chacos!). By the time Leslie arrived with the bus, the whole house looked dapper, excited, and just a little bit terrified.
I was third to be dropped off at my work location. By that point, I was far more excited than nervous; the bus ride had been full of laughter and encouraging smiles. (Though my shaky hands did betray a few lingering nerves…)
Leslie walked me upstairs to the lobby, and checked me in with the receptionist. After about 10 minutes, however, my supervisor was nowhere to be found. Leslie had to leave to drop off the rest of the bus, but she assured me I would be just fine.
A few minutes later, I met my supervisor, Asabea. She walked me upstairs to the newsroom, and her friendly conversation put me at ease. Then, she sat me down in yet another lobby chair: I needed to meet her boss, the editor, but she was in a meeting.
I sat in that chair for almost two and a half hours. Asabea passed from time to time, asked me how I was doing, and told me that the editor would be ready soon. I watched reporters move quickly in and out of the newsroom, loudly joking with one another, sometimes in English, sometimes in Twi. I met a few people, greeted many more, and listened to the channel broadcasting over the newsroom speakers. Mostly, though, I sat awkwardly, fidgeting and feeling out of place.
When the editor finally saw me, our meeting was short. She told me that she had requested an interview with me before I arrived, but that hadn’t happened. She seemed a bit dismayed to learn that I have no radio experience, and asked me to email her a copy of my CV. Then, she told me that I could come back at noon the next day.
Though she had been a bit stern at first (perhaps I made some sort of cultural misstep in my greeting…it’s very likely), the editor was warm and friendly when she asked Asabea to show me how to take the tro-tro home. I smiled and thanked her, but was more than a little bit disappointed as I returned to an empty house in East Legon.
My first day of work was not what I had hoped for, but I’m ready to go back tomorrow and try again. I hope that over the next few weeks I will settle into life at Starr FM and work on some great stories. If nothing else, today was a lesson in going with the flow, learning from observation, and viewing each day as its own little adventure. Plus, I made it home on the tro-tro in one piece! Now, sitting among my friends, swapping wild first day experiences, I can’t wait for what’s next.