Saturday, June 28, 2014

Some Tidbits

It's only my second day in Accra, Ghana and I already feel like I have been here for a lifetime - maybe  it's the way the heat and humidity make you feel a low-level of exhaustion throughout most of the day,or the fact that everything about my life seems completely different here and it's hard to imagine my life back in Canada. Truthfully not much has happened yet but I feel like I've already learned a lot about Ghanaian culture, at least knowledge wise. I will have a whole 2 months to live it out in practice! 

So, some tidbits about Ghana and the culture. Right now there is a fuel shortage - I'm not sure about all the details exactly but it means that it's more difficult to get transportation, though not impossible. We were supposed to have a few different guest speakers for our orientation today but only one of them were able to make it. I'm not sure if or how that will affect my ability to get to and from work, but so far it seems that trotros (the public transportation vans) at least are still running. 

Today in our orientation we learned a bit about 'living and working in Ghana.' The main thing that stood out to me is that Ghanaians value relationships over efficiency - so for example, when you first go to work or show up to meetings (which will almost always start late) you should engage in conversations with your colleagues about their weekend, their family, etc. and start working after that! As Ophelia (our Ghanaian contact) said, "Ghanaians love to feel good!" It seems that, as obrunis (white people) we will have to gain the trust of those that we work with by making time for conversation and using proper titles when speaking to people. A good frame of mind is to address everyone with either Mr. or Mrs, or Auntie and Uncle (depending on the relationship). I really like that Ghanaians value relationships so much and I can't wait to meet my colleagues! 

Last night it was difficult sleeping for a number of reasons.  1) My bowels and stomach have been upset ever since the flights and I have been battling some nausea and loose bowel movements (so please keep me in your prayers). 2) There was a large and loud church service occurring under some white tents in the far distance with music and singing and noise makers until about 11pm. 3) Our room is right beside the common tv room, and some boys were in there until fairly late watching tv pretty loudly. 

That coupled with the heat means that I am basically exxxxhausted and still not feeling well. If it weren't for my stomach issues though, I would be super okay with life here. Yes it's hot, but you get used to it fairly quickly and the people are very friendly and engaging. 

I'm too exhausted right now to finish this post, but I'll post again soon! Tomorrow we have orientation from 8am to 6pm though, so it's a fair bet that I will be too exhausted tomorrow too! Tomorrow I will ride the trotro for the first time so that should be interesting! They basically cram as many people as they can in a big unconditioned van and stop wherever people are going along a route. Eek, I'm a little nervous. 

However, I am trusting in God and know that He is with me as I experience this unique culture. 

Much love from Ghana, 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dubai was cool, but I've Ghana'way!


First glimpse of Accra

In traffic in Accra
First things first - I survived the 13 hour flight to Dubai, the 12 hour layover in Dubai, and the 8 hour flight to Accra! :) The travelling is officially over, and I am soo glad I am no longer cramped in a too small seat on a plane for hours at a time although I did meet some very nice people along the way. However, now the real adventure begins.

 I am currently laying on my single bed underneath a white mosquito net that is draped on all four sides of the bed (see photo below) with a ceiling fan desperately trying to churn the muggy air - it's semi-working in that at least it is somewhat cooler than outside in the blazing sun but it's clearly inevitable that I will always be coated in a thin layer of sweat here. We arrived in Ghana a few hours ago - and have since briefly explored the grounds surrounding the University of Ghana, exchanged some of our US dollars for Ghanaian cedis and shopped at the local convenience store and street market (just for some much needed water and internet so far). Now we are just resting in our rooms at the International Student Hostel (fondly called "ISH" ) until we have a brief orientation at 6PM. Then, the next three days will be our formal orientation - including everything from health and safety to 'twi' lessons (local language) to dance classes! I am glad we have this time now to somewhat recover from all the travelling. I am doing well - a little tired, a little homesick but mostly wanting to know what tomorrow will bring here in West Africa as so much still seems unknown!

For now, take a look at some of the photos I've taken on my travels thus far. Please send your love and keep me and the other students in your prayers!

Love and blessings,

Our humble abode:)

Dubai airport

Aquarium in the Dubai mall

Me by this crazy fountain in the Dubai mall

Men walk around in these outfits to show they are Emirates

The tallest buildling in the world!

BEST hazelnut gelato!

Water and light show in front of the 'tallest building in the world'