Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The third week

Monday was Mary's birthday (a girl on the CIEE program), so we decided to make dinner. We attempted to tackle cooking plantains and pasta. Luckily, Gabriel (a U-Pal who works for CIEE) showed up and helped us with cooking the plantains, because after he showed us how to do it, I don't think we could have done it on our own. Turns out it requires a lot of patience and time stirring the plantains so they don't stick to the pan. If I can ever tackle plain plantains, I am going to try kelewele, which is fried plantains, but with spices so it has a nice kick to it. Unfortunately, I think it requires a lot of spices that can only be found here, so cooking them at home might be interesting,

We were actually quite successful with our pasta. We had purchased tomatoes and cut them up small, then put a small amount of vegetable oil and salt on the pasta, added tomatoes, and voila! It was really quite good. So I think a group of us from Pentagon are going to try to make that at least once a week. Right now I still really like Jolof rice and other types of rice, but I worry about getting sick of it, so I want to try to add some variety in my diet while I can.

Also, my Culture, Gender, and Reproductive Rights class met Monday, and I think it'll be great! It's a women professor, and she seems really interesting. She also said that the class will be very discussion based, which I think will be good, because the African students here are bound to have very different points of view than what I am used to. Unfortunately there was a lot of background noise going on around our classroom, so it was really difficult at time to hear what the prof was saying, but she seemed to realize that, and tried to talk loudly, but sometimes she forgot, resulting in me and the other white kids in the class being pretty confused.

On Tuesday my Human Rights in Africa class met and it is huge! Luckily, the prof uses a microphone, so hearing him was fine, although that doesn't mean I could understand what he was saying, haha. They have an interesting way of doing notes here. They aren't condensed at all, so the professor just rambles on for a long time and ends up giving you, more or less, a half page of one quote. Part of the problem of doing things this way is that when I can't understand what he's saying, it makes the rest of the quote hard to track. I guess I'll just need to work on getting more used to that way of taking notes. The other weird thing is how classes only meet once a week. I know it's for 2 hours at a time, but it still seems weird that I only have 10 classes of each left. I feel like it will be hard to learn anything that way, but I guess if this is how the school has been doing it, it must work out somehow.

Tomorrow is my first Twi test, here's to hoping I remember all my verbs. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The End of Week Two

I had an actual class on Thursday! It was Regionalism and Ethnicity in Ghana and I think it'll be a good class. Unfortunately the professor doesn't do so well with speaking into his microphone, so there were a few times when I had no idea what he was really saying, but overall I was able to get the general idea. As long as he writes his notes on the board, I should be ok. I sat next to a Ghanaian student who is in his final semester here at Legon. He was really curious about what I thought of Ghana and the university and how it was different than home. It was nice having an actual class and not feeling out of place. I mean, I could tell that I was obviously a minority in the class, but I also felt like another student and just like someone else, which was really nice.

I spent the night with Clara's host family on Thursday and it was nice to have a home cooked meal, and to just be off campus for awhile. In the morning, we went to her families seamstress with fabric and now I have dresses being made. I can't wait to see how they turn out and have something nice and cool to wear here.

Friday night I went to a kind of, sort of, dance show. It was some of the dance classes here at the University showing the other classes what they had learned so far. The way people dance here is amazing! They move their bodies so well to the beat of the drums, and the drummers are something else too. I feel like they have a better sense of matching body moves to any type of beat than we do in the states.

Saturday we had a CIEE field trip. We went to a glass bead place, where we got to watch the process of making beads, going from glass, to dust, to coloring, to melting, to the final product. It was really neat to see. Then we went to Aburi Wood Carving, which is this area in the town of Aburi that was created solely from these wood carvers who found trees the liked, set up camp and just never left. There are small stands all over selling the things they make, and it's pretty amazing to see the type of details they can do. Our last stop for the day was the Aburi Botanical Gardens. The only other gardens I have been to were in New York, so I was expecting to see something like that, but this was really just a huge garden with trees. There weren't a lot of flowers or color. A lot of green and different types of trees, but nothing more than that. We saw one tree that was hollow on the inside. The way it works is that a tree finds a host tree and starts wrapping itself around this tree. Slowly, the guest tree takes over the host tree, and the host tree ultimately dies, leaving the inside of the new tree hollow! It was so cool!

There was a Durbar last night for all international students, and I met some people from California, here with a different program. As much as I like everyone in CIEE, it was nice to meet people that I haven't spent the past two weeks with. The food was delicious, and there were plantains, which I am slowly, but surely becoming addicted to, haha.

With two weeks down, I am starting to feel more confident that I can handle being here for four months. There are times when four months seems like a horribly long time, but then I realize how many things there are that I want to do between now and then, and I know I will be fine. As long as I keep myself occupied, I'm pretty sure the time is just going to fly by.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Me fa tro-tro daa

The title means "I ride a tro-tro everyday" in Twi. It is one of the few sentences I know and remember from my class, which has been great, but a lot of new letters, meaning new words that are not anything my brain recognizes.

Just a quick note to say that I have finished the first week of classes, although only three out of five profs showed up, which apparently is normal. Classes should actually get going this coming week, I guess this past week was more like a practice, haha.

Things are going great here and everyday gets a little easier and more fun!

Love from 88 degree weather! :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Church in Ghana

Today I went to church. Natalie's dad has a friend who's a pastor, and he came and found her and invited her to church and she invited me along. I figured it would be a good idea to try it out, because maybe it'd be something I really enjoyed... nope, not at all. The service went from 7:30 until 10:30, only they ran late, so it was 8-11, it was RIDICULOUS! The pastor spent and hour and a half on the sermon. It was about faith, and in the beginning was somewhat interesting, but then he just kept going and I could not pay attention. Also, the singing was in Twi, which meant I understood none of it, and each song went for about 15 minutes. Oh, and the pastor shouted roughly every six words (yes, I counted) and mixed with a microphone this was not pleasant for my already pounding head.

The pastor has good family friends who took us over for lunch. The act is something I think you would only find in Ghana. These people who didn't know us in the least happily took us in, fed us, and entertained us for the afternoon, all because someone asked them too. Koby and Elise (they're sister and brother) were in charge of us, and after a huge brunch, they took us walking around their neighborhood. They live in a nice sized house, but there were some other houses close by that were really big. I mean, ridiculously huge and unnecessary. Elise said that in Ghana, if people have the money, they will spend it. We also sat outside in their backyard and talked about life in Ghana and what the University was like and just generally enjoyed talking peer to peer.

Tonight was our official Akwaaba (welcome) dinner. It was good food, and amazing African drumming and dancing. I am really tempted to take a drumming class now, so I am going to look into the times tomorrow. Being at the dinner tonight, I realized that I am starting to feel more at ease with being in Ghana. I'm adapting better and the heat isn't getting to me quite as much. Being here is starting to feel more like school, than another country, which is good. I like that I am in Ghana, but am still starting to feel comfortable with things, it makes my days much less stressful.

Classes start tomorrow! I only have two, one of which is Twi, but it'll be nice to get a schedule of some sort going on. In the afternoon I'll need to try to register for some political science classes since they don't let international students register until Monday in their department. Hopefully no teachers change the time of classes now that I finally have it all worked out!

Happy MLK jr day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's been a week

I woke up this morning and realized today that I have been here for one week. And I can tell. Everything is getting better and easier to handle. I am remembering to take toilet paper with me everywhere and to wash my hands every two hours or so. My backpack always has sunscreen, purell, and two waterbottles full of water. These are the basic necessities. Oh, and a couple cedis (dollars) and pesewas (cents) for food or other random items throughout the day.
Yesterday I ventured down to the Bush Canteen and back and didn't get lost and didn't get cheated by the people in the market. I was very pleased with myself. The campus, while being huge, is slowly making sense. I know where the International Programs Office is and I know where the CIEE office is (both of which are air conditioned). Those are the two main places I would go to for help with anything, so I'm glad I can get to each of them. I also know how to get to the two main buildings where my lectures will be. Now I just can't be late to class. Apparently if you're late to class, there is no point to going. For one, you probably won't have a spot, and for another, the professor will find it very disrespectful and ask you to leave class. So I will definitely be leaving on time.
I have been able to register for one class so far, and it is a sociology class on Culture, Gender, and Reproductive Health. I'm excited for it because I think it will be a very different perspective than anything in the states. My other classes I apparently can't sign up for until Monday, even though teaching starts then, so that should be interesting.
Tonight I am going to Clara's host family for dinner, so it should be another good adventure on a tro-tro, and it will be nice to get off campus.
Enjoy your weekends everyone!
p.s. For those of you in MN, the high in Ghana today is 93 degrees, feeling like 98. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Ghana!

Hello Everyone!
I apologize for the long break without writing, but it turns out that internet at the University is not the easiest thing to come by. Apparently, once classes start, I can buy good internet, for quite cheap, but that won't happen until Monday at the earliest, so don't hold your breaths, haha.
Luckily, the Office of International Programs has a computer lab, so we started our morning here to get re-connected with the world. I am doing quite well so far. Our first three days in Ghana were wonderful, we stayed at a hotel where they spoiled us with good food and air conditioning. On Monday we were dropped off at the University (I didn't get a homestay, so I am living in The Pentagon, which is with other Ghanian and Nigerian students) and settled in to our new living situations. Monday and Tuesday were both really overwhelming, but now things are getting better. I live in a suite with 5 other girls (3 rooms, two people per room). One of whom is another CIEE participant. I've met two other suite mates (my room mate isn't here yet) and they both seem really nice, which gives me a lot of hope for the semester.
Registration here makes me so thankful for the simpleness of registration at home. Here you go from department to department and look up what classes they're offering (keep in mind, this is a school of 40,000 students, the campus is HUGE!) and then hope they have the place and time listed (which they generally don't) and then attempt to create a schedule. Yesterday was spent trying to find the departments and classes they offer and today or tomorrow I will try to actually register with the office for the class. Sure makes Morris' registration seem like a breeze.
It is incredibly hot and humid here, but I think my body is slowly getting used to it. It's hard to picture all of you in Minnesota and your below zero weather.
Hopefully I can update soon, but if not, just means (like a lot of things in Ghana) people are taking their time and I need to wait a little longer for it to happen. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane

I leave tomorrow morning for Ghana. I can't believe how quickly my break flew by. January 8th seemed like so long ago when I first started counting down and now, all of the sudden it's here! Somehow everything worked out though. My contacts made it on time. Malaria meds were granted to me by insurance. My camera charger was found. The elections went smoothly in Ghana. There were a lot of things I was worried about, but now that it's time to go, everything seems to have worked out.
Tomorrow will be a long day in the car, followed by an even longer time on planes and in airports. I figure if Clara and I still like each other after all that time together, then we will survive anything Africa throws at us. :) I will do my best to let you all know as soon as I arrive in Ghana safely. Just think, the next time I post to this, I will probably be 6,102 miles away!