As I was on the plane crossing the Atlantic Ocean, I wondered, what will Ghana be like? Numerous aspects crossed my mind such as the culture, the people, the city, and the food. I came into the city with no expectations; I was just eager to experience something I had never experienced before and learn each and every day. As I drove through the city for the first time, I noticed the new lifestyles instantly. I knew that the next six weeks would be much different than what I have been used to. This opportunity to visit a new country would teach me so many new things, including the obvious differences between Ghana and America.
An aspect of Ghana that grabbed my attention was the unsanitary conditions and the gutters. Living in America all my life, I was used to a fairly clean city with fresh air and clean water. I knew that living in Accra would not be the same in any way, yet I did not know it would be this drastic. I was not afraid to live here for six weeks because I knew that I would get used to the city very fast, but it still grabbed my attention. The air had a distinct smell, one that I had never processed before. It only took me a few hours to get used to it, yet I knew that not many people had noticed the smell of the air because they had been used to it their entire life. The air was a fairly small problem to me; the gutters were something I had been told about before I left, yet I still had to see it with my own eyes to really understand the dilemma. Once I saw one for the first time, I understood the problem right away.
In America, the gutters are under the streets so we don’t see, notice, or smell the sewage that flows through them. In Ghana, the gutters are on the side of the road where everyone can see with no problem where all the waste is. I understand that it is a very difficult process to install the gutters underground and it is extremely expensive, yet there are many ways to avoid unsanitary practices in a simple manner. First, there is no need to have a food stand or food cart a few steps away from the gutter. Although it might be a simple way to attract customers, it can be extremely unhealthy, especially when the gutters are full. Giving some distance between food being sold to people and the gutter will go a long way in terms of health in the distant future.
Many fruit stands are also steps away from the gutter, which can be a problem, especially when the fruit is being cut because it can easily absorb bacteria that can be harmful to your health and body. These are all normal aspects of society that take place every day. It may not be harmful right now, but you never know how your body will react after years and years of eating near the city gutters. Although eating food near unsanitary places may be an unavoidable aspect of living in Accra, it is very easy to simply think about the harm it may cause to your body, and how you improve your health.
Living in Ghana for the past five weeks has changed my life in the best way possible. Meeting new people has enhanced my mindset and the culture has given me a new way of thinking. I now see the world differently, and will come back to America a new person. I’ve learned so much and I am sad to leave. The stories will last a lifetime, and the memories will be ones I will never forget. Remember, just because things are normal, doesn’t mean they are necessarily good. We only have one life, and the length of our life is determined by how we treat our body and how we take care of ourselves. Never take life for granted and try to constantly improve in any way possible one day at a time.