Friday, January 29, 2010

Hey! This enchanted rose has thorns on it!

27 January 2010
I had my first Ghanaian Arabic class today. My friend Alex and I are the only non-Ghanains in the class of I’d guess 70 or so. The professor is great. He’s entertaining and easy to understand. I’m a little confused though, because this is second semester Arabic, but it seems that many students in the class just have a grip on the alphabet. I’m not quite sure what they did learn last semester. I’m hoping it will be a good chance to practice what I’ve learned and perhaps learn a thing or two. I think it’ll be a really enjoyable class!
I’ve realized that I haven’t talked at all about Beauty and the Beast rehearsals. To be completely blunt, it is the most disorganized production I have ever been a part of. To those who knew me in high school, yeah, it’s worse than “The Redneck.” We’ve been having rehearsals every day at 5, but invariably, we sit around and talk for at least the first hour. I’m not remotely exaggerating. After that, we spend about twenty minutes playing games like Zip Zap Zop, Big Wind Blows, and such. Then we finally ease our way into rehearsal. These rehearsals do not have end times. They just drag on until the directors decide to stop. But now they’re getting worried that we won’t be ready for our opening on Feb. 11. So guess what?! They want to have 6 am rehearsals too! I have my first tomorrow. Now I’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn to finish homework before, and certainly taken some early flights in my day, but I’ve never had to use great mental and physical capacity at any point before 7:30 am. Let alone dance. The world does not want to deal with me at 6 am. I’m just not sure if this will be scientifically possible.


26 January 2010

Oh, but if you were concerned, I did manage to sign up for voice lessons today! Yay!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


26 January 2010
Today was yucky. I don’t really want to rant about it here.
I will say though, that this video has become my life a little bit:
I know I’ve already mentioned that people great each other a lot here. Ghanaians are especially curious about white people, so I find people introducing themselves to me left and right. But I’m not sure I’ve made clear the extent to which this goes on. We have the basic introductions—My name is Emily, I’m from the United States, I study music, my sign is Gemini, I like long walks on the beach, the usual. Sometimes that’s all that happens, but more often than not, men will ask for a room and phone number after a minute long conversation. That’s where I get to pull an “Ivonne”. Or a, “Oh shoot, I can’t remember either number and I left my phone at home. Gotta go!” It hasn’t stopped being awkward yet, but as this happens at least three times a day, I’m sure I’ll come up with all kinds of witty things to say by the end of the semester. Or maybe I’ll stay awkward. That’s fine too.

Today I learned... how to draw a tree.

25 January 2010
Today, got up at 7:30 and set out to find building ZK. It was not on the map, so I ended up asking the porter, a student and a library employee for help. The porter suggested looking in the Zoology building, I suppose because of the ‘Z.’ Unfortunately, this building happens to be way out in the boonies of campus. I decided that if I was going to go there, I had better know for sure that this was the right location. So I asked a student. He was confused by the letters I gave him and he started listing other main lecture buildings that sounded nothing like ZK. (Which by the way, is pronounced ‘zed kay’ here. I haven’t stopped getting a kick out of that. Not that it comes up often.) At one point he asked a question that I thought was, “Is it Emily?” And I spent a moment being confused, because I had not remembered his name, but figured maybe I had forgotten that I had told him, so eventually I said yes. But then he said, “Oh, okay, I can show you where MLA is, but it is a language hall, are you sure you have a class there?” He had said ‘MLA,’ not ‘Emily’. Strike two. At that point, I had gotten close to the library, which is roughly at the center of campus, as far as my sense of direction can tell. I figured, hey, maybe people at the library know things about the campus. I asked a few men there, and they passed me from person to person. Finally, one man took a look at my paper and asked, “Is [ZK] a book?” As patiently as I could at this point, explained with the little knowledge I had, that no, this was a place where I had a lecture. And he seemed confused, but then acted like he knew where this place was. He walked with me out of the library, because Ghanaians tend to go out of the way to be helpful, especially when we say ‘hello.’ A lot of “hello-ing” goes on in Ghana, which is cool. At the end of our short journey, we were at the bookstore. He told me to take a staircase and I would end up at my classroom. This seemed unlikely, but I had no other leads, so up the stairs I went. Sure enough, at the top I found some stored materials and an empty classroom. Not what I was looking for. Finally, I decided to head to the music department. I figured I probably wasn’t going to find the class on time, but that I could at least maybe figure out where it would be next week. So I got there and checked out the notice board and guess what?! ZK is not a building! It’s a professor. Rather, his initials. The class was not in some grand lecture hall, but rather, in a small classroom by the music offices. Yay! I made it!
I saw a couple people I knew in the class, mostly from doing Beauty and the Beast. I sat and waited and met some of the other students for a while. Finally, a professor walked in. I couldn’t understand what he was saying at first but I gradually found out that he was not the professor for the class but someone else from the music dept. He had come to make sure we didn’t leave class and tried to steer conversation in the direction of Southern African music. He didn’t try teaching it, but he did want people to stop having their own conversations. This wasn’t very well received. I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, but students started standing up and giving passionate speeches about having to take required courses for the major that they didn’t think they should have to take. They had a lot to say. The rant topic evolved into one about the music department being the most disorganized and flawed at the University. And really, after dealing with numerous departments, I’m inclined to agree. Oh, because did I mention that when I was talking with someone before class, he told me didn’t think they’d had a professor to teach voice for a while now? Awesome. Richard, my voice teacher at Goucher, will be thrilled.
Anyway, the professor stayed calm in a bored but power trip kind of way (if that makes any sense) and made a lame attempt to address these concerns. I’m not really sure why that man wanted us to stay in the classroom that whole time, but we were there for the whole period and the professor never showed. Whiz-bang of a first class at University of Ghana.
A little later I walked to Culture and Society, Poli Sci class, with a couple friends. Most ginormous class I have ever been in. I think it fit 500? Whoa. The lecturer was over 30 min. late, but he did arrive to give a basic overview of conflict and have us draw a tree that was supposed to be a symbol for conflict. I imagine it will get more interesting eventually. I hope. I drew a pretty sweet tree though.

One Man's Trash is Another's Cholera

24 January 2010
Oh hey! Today is my 20 2/3 birthday!
So between oversleeping and still not knowing all of campus, I failed again at going to Mass. Next week.
Later in the morning, I went to the beach with a jolly crowd of people. The water was super salty and had lots of seaweed to catch on ankles, but the waves were fantastic. I spent most of the time seated under an umbrella with friends, enjoying the weather and beachy atmosphere. One could hardly call it peaceful though. Left and right, people were selling jewelry, paintings, instruments, and getting all up in my face about it. One man was carrying a python and had people (including some in my group) pay 2 cedi to take pictures with the snake.
And odd thing happened as we were about to leave. I walked by a man who greeted me and extended his hand to me. This in itself is pretty common in Ghana. We’re pretty greeting-y here. But when I gave him my hand, he shook his head and gestured towards the plastic trash I held in my other hand. I held it to him to make sure that was what he wanted, and he took it and threw it on the ground! It didn’t seem as though this was done in anger. My assessment of the situation is that he thought he was doing me a favor by taking care of my trash for me and in the process showing me what I should do with it? Maybe? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is trash all over the ground in Ghana. Aaaand that’s why the water here is terrifying. Which is why purified water bottles and sachets are great. But… those are what I see all over the ground… I see a vicious circle happening here.

One Man's Trash is Another's Cholera

24 January 2010
Oh hey! Today is my 20 2/3 birthday!
So between overseeping and still not knowing all of campus, I failed again at going to Mass. Next week.
Later in the morning, I went to the beach with a right gaggle of people. The water was super salty and had lots of seaweed to catch on ankles, but the waves were fantastic. I spent most of the time seated under an umbrella with friends, enjoying the weather and beachy atmosphere. One could hardly call it peaceful though. Left and right, people were selling jewelry, paintings, instruments, and getting all up in my face about it. One man was carrying a python and had people (including some in my group) pay 2 cedi to take pictures with the snake.
And odd thing happened as we were about to leave. I walked by a man who greeted me and extended his hand to me. This in itself is pretty common in Ghana. We’re pretty greeting-y here. But when I gave him my hand, he shook his head and gestured towards the plastic trash I held in my other hand. I held it to him to make sure that was what he wanted, and he took it and threw it on the ground! It didn’t seem as though this was done in anger. My assessment of the situation is that he thought he was doing me a favor by taking care of my trash for me and in the process showing me what I should do with it? Maybe? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is trash all over the ground in Ghana. Aaaand that’s why the water here is terrifying. Which is why purified water bottles and sachets are great. But… those are what I see all over the ground… I see a vicious circle happening here.

Cinderella Sans Pumpkin

23 January 2010
This evening University of Ghana held a Durbur, or celebration, for all the international students. We had some nice food, and students performed, and we all danced to some Ghanaian music, including my new favorite song ever, Fresh One. It was here that I was first privileged enough to see the music video. And now you can too:
We were told that there was an after party at Cinderella’s, a club in Osu. A couple of us went to check it out and discovered that we had done a couple things wrong. First, we got there around midnight, which is apparently awkwardly early. (Amusing, given the name of the club, no?) Second, we went to Cinderella’s, which is on the expensive end among clubs in the area I do believe and also rather far away, making the cab more expensive. At the end, I think we all decided that we might try the clubbing in Ghana thing, but avoiding the awkward and pricey bits.

A Word from the Groundnut Gallery

22 January 2010
I went to the meeting for African pop band today! I think it’ll be a lot of fun. Here’s what I hadn’t realized but think will be pretty cool: It’s made up of all international students. The professor who organizes it (his name is Fish) finds students every semester and teaches a bit then lets us explore on our own and do a concert at the end of the semester.
This evening I decided I was craving groundnut soup. Sadly, Mercy’s is the only place I’ve had it and I have yet to find it anywhere else. So we made some! Well, we made groundnut something. Alex already had a couple pans, so we went to the night market right outside our hostel and got rice, oil, canned tomato-ness, pepper, onion, and curry powder. We already had some groundnut and paste and groundnuts. There was no possible option but deliciousness. We threw it all in the pan and made a fine Ghanaian meal. Because as Kwame had told us earlier, Ghanaian cooking is finding some food and putting it in a pot. And that is what we did. Oh man. I’m still sure I could eat groundnut something every meal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And one more bit

Oh and no water again. Worse this time. The hose-type deal downstairs isn't working either. Not even bucket showers. :(

Veggies, Bimbettes, and Tattoos

21 January 2010
I had a dream about vegetables last night. I love the food here, but long for my beloved produce. In the dream, I was offered any type of food I wanted. At first I thought of some fancy stuff, but then I thought, “Wait! I could get VEGETABLES!” And they were great.
Elsa came back from class and told me that she was going to a rehearsal for a production of Beauty and the Beast she heard about today. I said that sounded totally cool and she asked if I wanted to come. I said that sounded even more totally cool! So Kelly and Emily joined us and we walked on over. The theatre kids are great! Everywhere I go, this seems to be the case. Elsa and I were cast as "Bimbettes" 1 and 2. You know those girls in the Disney movie with the colored dresses who fawn over Gaston? That's us. Obviously, we're psyched.
Mercy had us over for dinner tonight and GUESS WHAT?! We had vegetables! My dreams told the beautiful future! We also had more groundnut soup. More like groundnut super. Dinner was amazing.
Then Mercy and Kwame told us scary malaria stories and gave us information about healthiness and such, which was slightly less appealing. But I learned one thing that I'm all broken up over-- don't get a tattoo in Ghana!

I'm at the Tacobell?

20 January 2010
None of my Wednesday classes are scheduled yet, so I had a leisurely morning before heading to the check out the post office and sign up for Arabic with my friend Alex. Afterwards, we went to a campus restaurant called Tacobell, which is in no way related to the chain back home. They serve tasty Ghanaian food. One of my favorites so far.
In the evening, I went with our entire group as well as some of our Ghanaian friends, Nana, Nanasei, and Hafiz, to a Reggae party at LaBadi Beach. Fun! Socializing, music, dancing, beach—great time.

Behold the Power of... Power!

19 January 2010
We got power back today! And then it went away about an hour later…
We went to our second Twi class at 5:30, and the room got progressively darker since we had no light. (Twi is held in our hostel because it is just the SUNY program students.) Between the darkness and the heat from no fans, and the poor sleep because of the lack of fans, it was getting difficult to stay awake! Mercifully, halfway through class, the lights flickered back on! We heard mad cheering from the residents outside, and we could resist joining in just a little. I’m sure I was not alone in taking a moment to decide whether I would first shave or listen to some music under the fan. Or something along those lines. Because we’ve learned that sometimes these chances are fleeting and we don’t know when we’ll lose/ get power again!
In class today, we learned that the Twi word for Christmas is buronya, from ‘oburoni’, meaning ‘whiteman’ and ‘nya’, meaning ‘to get’. Basically, it translates as “Oburoni has got something to celebrate.” Our professor said that Ghanaians don’t care about Christmas much themselves, but rather are happy that the oburoni are having a good time… I’m not sure I’ve grasped the logic on this one, but find it interesting anyway.
Every Tuesday is two for one pizza day the fill-up station across the street from campus, so a ton of us went to take advantage like good college students are wont to do. While we were there, my friend Nana handed me a flash drive and said he had put some of his music on it. When I got it home I saw it was a ton of awesome Ghanaian music just as I had hoped! I’m so excited!
Still have power and water!

Safe to Say Biggest Happening Yet

18 January 2010
Already sleeping fitfully due to felling gross, I woke up this morning to the most terrifying time of my life in the middle of the night. We first heard people shouting from the courtyard to get out of our rooms. That stopped for a bit, so Elsa and I ignored it and prepared to fall back asleep. After a bit though, it came again, louder and more urgent. We froze. All we heard was that we should leave, but no one gave a reason. Finally we heard some one shout that there was a rumor of a ____. That’s all we could understand. Not that it would have been helpful anyway. We had no reason to trust what these unknown people were saying anyway. Desperate and mentally muddled, we decided to sneak quickly over to Kelly and Julia’s room next door to see what they were doing and to feel security in numbers. They were panicking too. We tried to call Mercy but couldn’t get a hold of her. We all imagine the worst-case scenarios and the best way to react to each. Ultimately, we decided even if there were intruders, our rooms would not be the safest place to be in any situation. And if the screamers were trustworthy, that was the definitely best course of action. Shaking, I cautiously but briskly headed down the three flights of unending stairs with the others. A ton of students were standing out on the parking lot and we were finally informed that the rumors were of an earthquake (maybe you read about this?). Julia, a resident of San Diego, has plenty of earthquake knowledge and told us that Ghana doesn’t get real earthquakes because it’s not on a fault line. I didn’t know about that, but really, now that everyone had been evacuated from the building, an earthquake rumor came as a relief somehow. Apparently I hadn’t given any thought to the recent destruction in Haiti in this rationalization. Going with this thought, part of me relaxed, knowing that the hostel porters had everything under control. The other part was still freaking out. Some of this had to do with the shock I’m sure, but mostly, I was scared by the burst of reality. I had seen the barbed wire and guards armed with assault rifles outside our buildings, but hadn’t internalized their necessity. What if someone could get past them? These were the thoughts going through my head at the time. But… I had a decent amount of time to be thinking these and voicing them to Elsa and Alex and we decided more or less that the guards are well trained and it would take a lot to get past them, and that Ghana is a fairly stable country. Between those two, I figure I’m about as safe here as anywhere else, and that anything could happen anywhere. So I’m sorry if this story was scary, but really, I’m okay, happy, and armed with a healthy dose of caution.
After a decent while, a porter came out to tell us that the earthquake rumor was an elaborate hoax and that it was safe to go outside. It was a great start to our first day of classes. I didn’t even want to know what time it was when we got back.
Today was technically the first day of classes, but today, I signed up for about half of my schedule. The other half I plan to get tomorrow. See, registration opened up last week, but many offices hadn’t posted their schedules and we had orientation around most of the office hours anyway. But we were told it wasn’t really a big deal. Many of the other students just got here today. The first week of classes apparently isn’t really used for instruction. I don’t understand it, but I seem to be on the right track, so I’ll keep rolling with it. And I’m signed up to be in an African pop band ensemble!
We did have our first Twi class today! Although English is the official language in Ghana, Twi is also widely spoken and often preferred by Ghanaians. We are excited to learn as much as possible to show our hosts that we are making an effort to embrace their culture. We had previously picked up bits and pieces from various locals, but mostly, when applied, Ghanaians would laugh at us playfully in a way that showed they were pleased but also said, “Oh, you silly oburoni, trying to nasalize your ‘I’s…” Because apparently, nasalization is important. And I have no doubt I’m doing it incorrectly.
I got on the internet today! We went to a building that offers free wireless to students for one hour a day. I’m sorry I didn’t post this. By the time I had caught up with some Facebook and e-mail, we had to go.
Still no power in our building.

Living the Sophisticated Life

17 January 2010
Went to Church today in Ghana! I didn’t make it to the Catholic mass this week because I messed up scheduling, but once I get more familiar with the campus it should be much easier to arrange. This week, most of us went to the Interdenominational Church with our coordinator, Mercy. They sing so much! They were very welcoming and had all those new to the church stay after for refreshments to talk about their experience at the service. I look forward to reporting the details of Ghanaian Catholic mass next week!
In the evening, Mercy said she and her husband Kwame would give us a bus tour around Accra and Madina and nearby areas and afterward take us to a nice restaurant. We were glad for the chance to get our bearings a little better in the school owned van rather than transferring from tro-tro to tro-tro, muddling directional clarity. As we were driving, we spotted a wedding party. We joked with Kwame about pulling over so we could crash it and experience a Ghanaian party first hand. He laughed and kept driving, but soon after, we were parked outside another party and he told us to get out.
Evidently, Kwame’s brother was celebrating his 70th birthday. We were welcomed to the party and enjoyed drinks and amazing cake and music we couldn’t help but dance to. About that music… Kwame’s brother is a retired Accra police chief, so naturally, the band that played was entirely made up of police officers. We saw “the police” play for a party! No one else in the group seemed to fully appreciate that bit as much as I did, but maybe some of you will.
After the party, we still went to our fancy dinner at a hotel. And boy did we feel swankified. The place had air conditioning, waiters, and, get this—flushing toilets! A beautiful bonus, as we still have no power back at the hostel. The food was great too.
Still no power. I am disgustingly in need of a shower. Also, this would be an awful time to get cholera…

An Action-Packed Day

16 January 2010
We went to the international student orientation today and heard a lot of information that our helpful orientation leaders had already provided us. Lost power and water tonight. Woo.

Culture Shock and Newfound Peanut Butter

15 January 2010
Today I had my first experience with what could possibly be called culture shock… in an American styled shopping mall. Before heading to Ghana, I was told by many that I would find this everywhere because American culture is so different from Ghana. They were right about the different bit, but what really took me aback was the similarity of Accra Mall to something found in my own hometown. After spending but a few days exploring urban Ghana in ninety-degree weather with rare air conditioned respites, experiencing an entire span of indoor air-conditioned shops took me more aback in a way that no unusual food, crazy traffic, or marriage proposal from a stranger had.
Oh, because yes—so far I have received two marriage proposals from Ghanaian men I likely will never see again. This is not terribly uncommon apparently, and after the proposal is given and laughed off, we all go on our merry way.
I had some of the most delicious food ever today. Groundnuts, I delightfully discovered, are basically peanuts and are commonly used to make soup! It’s amazing! The soup we had was a peanut broth with beef and a rice ball. Out of this world. Our orientation leader Mercy has the most fantastic food at her house and has done a wonderful job of showing us a tasty variety of traditional Ghanaian food to find easily in markets. I may however, just eat groundnut soup every meal of the day. And maybe as a snack or two.

Too Soon to Miss Sub-Par Burgers

14 January 2010
Today we went to one of the halls to eat breakfast and I got delicious chocolate crepes and orange juice that tasted and felt like drinking an actual orange. Mmm…
After that, we went into Accra again and I was overwhelmed by how constantly aware I needed to be in the market. I realize this is true of any city, but the markets here are so crowded and unfamiliar that the stress mounts quickly. I do enjoy the city, but think I need to take it in small doses. We learned how to take public transportation like the tro-tros and cabs and I bargained, or dropped, as they say here, for flip flops and a soap dish. Everywhere, I heard shouts of “Oburoni!” It’s delightful, and I wish people could be so comfortable with such terms in the U.S.
For lunch, our leaders took us to Frankie's, a restaurant with American styled food. It was very thoughtful of them to show us a place to find familiar food, but it ended up being pricey and sub-par overall. I paid about $10 for a so-so burger. That’s compared to the heaping plate of Jollof rice and chicken you can get for about $1 and some change.
I more than made up for this disappointment after my quest for Chilly Yoghurt, which is advertised all over the place. So delicious and cool, and a rare source of dairy here.
Tonight I went with Kelly, John, and Nick to the Bush Cantina, a market with some late night shops, bars, and restaurants. At least for now, before classes start, it was fairly empty, but in any case, it’s a nice place to hang out with people.

When I took this long to post, I was really getting into the Ghanaian spirit.

13 January 2010
Today I signed up for classes! Er, class. I’m registered for a dance class, but the music office was not open for registration today. For registration day. They said that they would be there tomorrow.
We took the tro-tro to Madina market today. The tro-tro is quite an experience. This common form of public transportation is a clunky, ginormous van that holds up to I believe 24 people and weaves around traffic and cuts through gas station parking lots and pulls around other vehicles by going off road. I find this particularly interesting, because in every other aspect I have noted, Ghanaians have adopted a leisurely pace in everything they do. If I run somewhere, I sense people looking at me strangely, perhaps wondering if something is wrong. I’ve fallen into this idea rather easily and am enjoying the absence of rushing and tight deadlines. If I have a longer wait in an office or restaurant, I have more time to talk with those around me, gather my thoughts, and maybe even bask in some air conditioning.
But then we hop aboard a tro-tro and it’s back to impatience and hustling. The tro-tro is not my favorite mode of transportation. Hard to beat the prices though. In the market I got sunglasses, hangers, and a phone. So I do have a phone number, and you’re welcome to call me with it if you want, as I won’t be charged anything for receiving calls, but I imagine it could be pricey for you. In any case, my number is 00233 0274788332.
We had dinner at our orientation leader Mercy’s again and I tried red gravy, which is delicious. It’s generally some mix of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and whatever else, and it is usually spicy and put on rice. We eat a lot of rice here. I really love red gravy.
Julia and I have a fantastic plan. We realized that no has his or her birthday this semester, and this made us sad. So we decided that we would pick alternate birthdays for everyone and a theme for each. Birthdays are the best.
I tried plantain chips today. They are delicious. They sell both ripe and non-ripe ones. I recommend the non-ripe ones if you should ever come upon that decision.
There is a seamstress who comes to our hostel twice a week. She brings in pre-made dresses that we can try on and buy, but she also has material that we can look for and choose a dress pattern we like and order. She does beautiful work and sells these dresses for 10 cedi (less than $10). I ordered a pink and purple metallic-ish dress before returning to my room to unpack and realize that all of the dresses I had bought were pink and purple. Oh well. I’m so excited to see it!

Time to be a Little Fish

12 January 2010
We found out today that the showers are working and that there had been a temporary problem with the system! Yay hygiene!
Apparently we need pictures for every department in which we are taking classes. “Peculiar Photography and Filming” on campus gladly helped us out here. Yes, that’s what it was called. After that, we broke off into groups of one or two and matched up with and orientation leader for a three-hour tour (no, we didn’t get stranded on an island) around campus. Henry was Shaylyn’s and my guide. I wasn’t sure how many people attended University of Ghana, but I had not been expecting 40,000. Whoa.
While on the tour, we saw a couple girls were walking with their mother. They saw us ran over to touch Shaylyn on the arm and ran away giggling bashfully. Though there are a number of white students on campus, many Ghanains rarely see ‘oburoni’ (the Twi word for white people). They’re curious about us.
We had a roommate switcharoo today. My new roomie is Elsa and she’s fantastic.


11 January 2010
I’m in Ghana and I love it! I now know all eight students of the other in my program and we’re all super excited! Julia and Kelly, the other two double-x chromosomed Goucher representatives haven’t made it yet, but I’ve already had an excellent time with the other two ladies, Emily and Elsa, as well as John, Alex, Peter, and Will. We got into our rooms, (which are great by the way, but I’ll talk about that later) and were eager to shower after sitting in our clothes/ the airport for 22+ hours and sweating promptly upon arrival in Ghana. But… no water in our shower. Now, we have 48 showers at our hostel. And we tried a decent portion of them, running from room to room in our towelish ensemble, arms full of self-cleaning products. We’d turn one on and get really excited—“Oooh, I got a trickle!” And one lasted long enough for me to get soap on my face… but only that long. Luckily, we got enough trickle out of a sink to splash off a bit.
Not enough to rinse out the citrus smell present in my towel courtesy of the “Veggie Wash” that now covers half of the items in my checked bag. So… turns out I won’t have clean produce, but my clothing could be citrus fresh for days!
Our packing suggestions list recommended bringing dark sheets… because they get dirty easily and light ones would need to be washed more often… Back home, our first reaction was, “Gross, I do plan on showering before getting in bed!” But it looks like that plan has already been shot down. Don’t worry— I’m sure we’ll get the hang of the water thing eventually. Until then, baby wipe bath it is!
Other than the shower business, I’m really pleased with the International Student Hostel. It’s kind set up like a motel, in that the rooms all open to the outside. My roommate, Emily H., and I are at the top of the four floor building that forms a square around a grassy courtyard, which reminds me of the quad at Goucher, simply because it is a grassy place where people could hang out during pleasant weather. The rooms are spacious and have a fan and excellent cross-ventilation windows, making the lack of air-conditioning quite manageable, at least at night. At the back of the room we have a door to a balcony that has a view of the city of Legon. It’s delightful! I love my room.
This may not seem super significant to some of you, but I am thrilled to report that not only does Avon Skin So Soft bug repellent not make my skin red and irritated; it also actually smells really good! Gramma, thanks for that wonderful stuff!
And that’s about it so far! (We got in pretty late.) I’ve barely gotten any sleep and we need to be up in the morning tomorrow, so it sounds like the perfect time to sign off! Later!

Here's How Things Will Work...

I’m sorry it took so long to put this up! Internet isn’t too difficult to get to, but I doubt I will be able to fit in time for it every day. Therefore, I will be recording things as I see fit into Word with a date in the heading. I’ll post them all at once when I do get to the internet. Right now, I like the idea of writing every day before going to bed, but that pattern may not stick. Some days, I may just write some bullets with amusing tidbits and happenings, or maybe just a picture.

So delayed but here I am!

So... I’m on my way to Ghana! Right now I’m in London’s Heathrow Airport, but I’ve been writing this on the train to Newark Airport. Which brings me to my first mini-adventure—my first flight was cancelled! So, Continental found me a train and I said goodbye to my wonderful family. Alright, short adventure. I did warn you it was mini.
To those of you who have asked me some variation of "Are you nervous?” I can only say that I feel a sort of a prolonged form of the anxious that I feel before a recital. I know I will enjoy myself whatever happens, but can't get the nagging "Gah, I'm going to forget something!" feeling out of my head. But mostly, I'm super excited because I've been working up to this for a long time and it's an opportunity to learn and share so much.
I will be studying music at the University of Ghana, just 8 miles from Accra, the nation's bustling capital. (There's a helpful picture tagging along with this post.) The University has on-campus housing and a residential hall just for international students. Being international in Ghana and all, that's where I'll be staying! I expect that to be bundles of fun because it will give me the opportunity to not only meet new Ghanaian people, but also people from ALL OVER the world!
Here's the part where you get mad jealous. Conveniently located just north of the equator, Ghana's temperature tends to stay around 75-95 degrees. Call me crazy, but I‘ve left my coat in Maryland.
I'd love to give you a list of the best ways to contact me when abroad, but at the moment I'm unsure of what those ways might be myself. Phones are pretty much out I think. You can still write to my Goucher e-mail, ( but I won't have internet in my room, so I don't know yet how often I'll be able to check it/ respond. The same follows for all internet communication. I do have a mailing address! Here it is:
Emily Davies
International Student Hostel
University of Ghana
Legon, Accra, Ghana
I’d love to get mail, and if you give me your address, I’ll gladly send a postcard or two your way!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Emily+ blogging = ?

Shocked? I can hardly pass for technology savvy, but I catch on eventually. So here it is, a blog to post my adventures about Ghana. But... I'm not there yet, so I've got the week to do a little intro bit and get into the swing of blog writing.
What got me started you may ask? Well I resisted initially. I find technology to be a hassle until I get used to it, at which point I become obsessed with it, and do I really need something else to occupy my time? And then there's the fact that I'm uncertain about what my internet availability will be in Ghana.
But then I saw Julie & Julia, which I love and highly recommend. And that settled it. I became convinced that my blog would be fabulous (which it will be) and would help me to share my world with everyone back home. And yes, I'm still unsure about internet access, but this way I can post when I do have time, and reach many people at once. Woo!
And the name... yeah it's cheesy. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw I needed a name, and thought to myself, "Psh, that's silly and corny." And then I employed the advice of friends I was talking to and what did Joe Moran suggest? "Ghan-away. Get it?"
My jaw dropped. A little freaky, no? But really, that settled it. Miki Haber and Eli Cohen approved, and I gave the first almost completely personal touch to my shiny new blog.
(And thanks to Eli for showing me how to get this ball rolling.)