Sunday, February 28, 2010


17 February 2010
I did a very exciting thing today. I got up at 5:30 am with friends Will and Alex. That’s not the exciting part. Today, I went to rugby practice. I can’t explain how excited I am about learning to play rugby. A little bit of me has always wanted to play I think, but I've never had the opportunity. Rugby takes the best parts of American football (tackling) and soccer (continuous play) and adds some other awesomeness to make the best sport ever.
Admittedly, today’s practice was not a whiz-bang success. I had eaten a pretty decent bit of breakfast, because I get hungry in the morning. And we did some really intense warm-ups. And I got fairly nauseous. I’m not at all deterred though. I’m so excited to play.
Later, I went to watch a rugby game to pick up the basic rules. I met some of the players and had quite a fantastic time. I absolutely cannot wait to get out there and tackle people. You will be hearing updates.

Just had to share this with you...

16 February 2010
Today, I was sitting on a wall outside a department building and reading, all peaceful-like. I will say, it was a nice place to sit. A man walking by noticed this, and said, “Hey, I like where you are sitting!” I told him thank you.

Jesus in Twi

15 February 2010
Today I made a wonderful purchase. There is a video store in the market near my hostel that sells delightful pirated films. I was fortunate enough to happen upon one called Jesus in Twi. The front is a Google image collage of Jesus-y pictures. The back has 28 different films that are apparently contained on the DVD. Some are about Jesus. Some are about Samson and Delilah, Noah, Abraham, etc. Some are about Viroin Mary, I suppose the lesser-known twin sister of Jesus’ mother. Three are about Thomas Jefferson. And three are about Claire Bloom. Because what is a Jesus movie without Thomas Jefferson and Claire Bloom, that’s what I’d like to know. I know that you are all waiting eagerly in anticipation to see this movie, and I will be happy to share it when I get back.

Any day dedicated to chocolate is okay by me.

14 February 2010
Today is Valentine’s Day! Better known by some in Ghana as National Chocolate Day! I like that. I celebrated by going out with Elsa, Julia, and Kelly and getting a pedicure for about $4. My feet have never looked so white to me. It was an amusing/ slightly embarrassing experience. The pumice stone tickled something ridiculous and I couldn’t help but laugh a lot and it was very difficult to stay still. The women working there thought this was really funny. I asked if Ghanaians thought it tickled ever, and laughed and said no. I don’t know how this is true. Having people rub things on your feet is a terribly tickly experience.
Beauty and the Beast ended tonight! Yay, I have a life again!

Moving Up in the Bimbette World

12 February 2010
Tonight I got a more attractive purple dress and a delicious, black, big, wavy hair wig. It’s amazing. On one hand, I’m a little disappointed I won’t look like a total cornball anymore, but on the other hand, I still look ridiculous, and in a slightly more theme appropriate, flattering way. I’m well pleased.
Also, we made bacon-wrapped shrimp and kebabs for dinner. So amazing.

Annie and the Beast

11 February 2010
Thursday’s my day off. I never thought I’d have a day off of classes, but here it is. I didn’t accomplish much, but I did clean off my chair. And boy, it’s really clean now.
Tonight was opening night for Beauty and the Beast. It was also our first day using costumes. Mine was a lovely pink lacy prom dress. Also a black mobcap. I had been told I’d get a wig, but they couldn’t find it, so they threw that on me. Interestingly, the Ghanaians didn’t find it funny. Of all the things they laugh at me for, this was perfectly normal. I knew I wasn’t safe from ridicule though. Elsa and Emily were there to laugh at me backstage and a bunch of friends came to watch. I was prepared for high hilarity.
It was to come in another form, however. Three minutes before the show opened, (which was 27 minutes after it was billed to open) the costume woman approached me with a wig. This was not any old wig. This was a little orphan Annie wig. Reddish and big time curly. And I flaunted it proudly about the stage and the show was wonderful, if ridiculously clumsy in every aspect. And there are pictures! Unfortunately for you, they will be of no use for blackmailing purposes, because I have no shame in these matters.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Notes from My Interior Design Experience

Notes: I give these to you word for word from my notes. Only the bits in brackets are my own additions for clarification.

Sitting Room, Drawing Room
-room for conjures
-luxury, elegance, and extreme comfort
-window treatment designed accordingly
-fullness= excess fabric
-rule to remember- Length is elegance.
-floor length curtains
-most lavish valences/perlments {not sure if this is the right word}, which are covers above curtains.
-keep bows out
-pleated frills rather than gathered (gathered are better suited for bedroom)
Study or Office
-Window treatment for man’s study/ office
-should preserve room’s masculine character; therefore…
-avoid too many curves and frills
-go for very organized, tailored pleats
-curtain in lovely , bold color
-art as a finishing touch
-In a man or woman study, room should be easy to work in; therefore…
-let a lot of light in
-go easy on the depth of curtains
Dining Room
-Room in which you entertain guests for hours
-So, it is fun.
-You should perhaps have something other than what you have in other rooms.
-Because room will usually be occupied after dark, use warm colors to enhance both curtains and perlments/ valances like the dining room with up lighters placed on the floor. {I don’t know what this sentence means.}
-Uplighters: other sources of light, like candles, picture lights, and wall scones {No, ‘scones’ is not a typo. I’m not sure if they are the same as sconces or not, but she actually wrote this word on the board and it was spelled just so.)
-If you have a farmhouse type kitchen, which exposes walls, brick work, you have a very smart kitchen which is very high-tech.
And that’s when I realized I was in the wrong class and had to go to my voice lesson! I’m stuck with such suspence!

Quest for the Hidden Housing Design Class

9 February 2010
I went to all of my classes today and none of them ran. I also went to two of my not classes by mistake. I went to both thinking they were my house design class. I’m really excited about this elusive course. I’m obviously really excited about it, because it runs at 7:15 am and I got myself up all cheerful like to attend. Okay, I didn’t get there exactly on time. I got there though, and the professor had some equations and such up on the board. I figured that made sense, writing blueprints and all. Who am I to say what goes on in a housing design class? It was a little worrisome, though, as I have not taken math since high school. Nevertheless, I was exciting to learn about building houses and I did my best to catch everything. He talked a lot about pressure and force. It was a flashback to my senior physics class. I looked around and saw someone with a physics formula handbook. I leaned over to the guy next to me. “Is this house design or a physics class?” It was a physics class. That explained the flashback pretty well. I quietly got up and left.
I went back to the Home Science department to see what they knew. The answer was not much. I mean really, why should the Home Science office know when its courses are being offered? They told me to come back later in the afternoon.
So after pop band I headed back over there. On the way, I met a Nigerian named Frank who insisted upon walking me there. We talked about this and that and he asked if I was married. I told him no and asked if he was married. He laughed at me and said no. What was I thinking asking something so silly? Then he told me that he had met the love of his life. I told him that was nice. “Ask me who she is,” he said. I did. “You are standing right next to me,” he said. Then he asked if that made me happy. I said that I didn’t know him well enough to know if that was a happy thing and “Oh, there’s the Home Science Department! Nice meeting you Frank!” Then I slipped into the conveniently present home science office. Sorry Frank, but I’m sending you back out to find a new soul mate.
I asked if they knew anything about the course yet and they told me it was going on right then. This was slightly problematic because I had my voice lesson in an hour and this class was two and a half hours long. I figured I’d at least go check it out.
This was not my home design class. It was, however, one of the most entertaining classes I have attended. Because textbooks are not widely used in Ghanaian schools, some class lectures consist almost entirely of professors reading notes line by line, repeating each line a number of times, and students copying verbatim. In general, this would seem to me a monotonous way to gather information and I am fortunate enough to not have any such classes. In this case though, it added to the amusement of the situation.
Again, it took me a while to figure out that I wasn’t in the right class. The professor began talking about the way to furnish a sitting/ dining room. I had not expected anything interior, but thought that maybe I had misinterpreted the course description. This isn’t at all what I had wanted to learn, but some of the things she said were very unintentionally funny to me and I thought I could enjoy this class anyway. (I am going to type out the notes for you in another post because they are wonderful.) She moved on to talk about other rooms in the house and then passed around a sign in sheet and a syllabus. That’s when I realized I was in Interior Design. And I left to go to voice. I must say, I’m a little bummed that I won’t get to find out what type of frills are appropriate in a household washroom.

I Could Trup Rachel Ray's 40 Dollars a Day So Hardcorely in Ghana.

7 February 2010
I woke up with a ginormous breakfast offered at the resort this morning before packing up and heading to Anomabo Beach. We took in lunch and had a lovely and relaxing time there and drove back to campus.
This evening I decided I’d finally try waakye, which is basically beans and rice. I’m not the biggest fan of beans, but this meal costs a mere 50 pesewas, which is about 30 cents, so I figured this would be a great time to start liking them. I got red gravy, which is a tomato-based sauce, and plantains mixed in. It was all right. I think I would not deal well with eating this more than twice a week. It’s just not very exciting.
By the way, I don’t think I had mentioned before that I found some groundnut soup in the market near our hostel a few days ago. I was really excited to have some of this after enjoying it so at Mercy’s house, and again, it was 50 pesewas. But… I got the soup in a plastic bag. Like the type you put produce in at the grocery store. I had planned to eat right there at the market, so I had to work with what I was given. (I found later that I could have gone to ask her for a bowl. Oops.) Anyway, My friend shared his spoon and I ate it straight out of the bag. I had a moderate amount of success before spilling half of it on my skirt. That was uncomfortable. And the soup was only so-so. Oh well. I will continue my quest for super cheap food. I know there’s more out there.
After that, we Americans needed to get our Superbowl fix. We headed to an ex-pat sports bar downtown called Champs. That was a little strange. Going through the doors was like walking into America. A bunch of white, drinking beer and watching football in the air conditioning. Because that's totally my American experience... Anyway... Almost everyone had their heads screwed on straight. In other words, they all were rooting for the Saints. Watching the game was a pretty nifty home-like experience even though I don’t get super into football at home. Sadly, we had lame Ghanaian commercials. We all missed our Clydesdales.

Bit of a Facebook Plug

6 February 2010
After breakfast, we began our morning at the Kakum Forest Reserve. There, we did a canopy walk. At its highest point, we were 160 metres up among the trees. Yes, metres. I was born to speak British. The idea was to see wildlife, but we only saw a couple monkeys briefly. Nevertheless, it was nifty walking that high up in the air on a spiff little bridge. There are pictures of this and the rest of the trip on Facebook, check it out!
We took the van to the Cape Coast Town and were let loose to explore for a few hours. We were rather hungry so we all started off with some lunch. From my seat at the table, I had the restaurant straight ahead, the town to my left, the beach to my right, and another slave castle behind me. Quite the set of views. A man in the restaurant was playing Bob Marley songs and he when he came to Redemption Song I got chills.
After lunch, we went to the castle that had been our dining scenery. The castle was roughly the same as the other, but the tour was much better. After the tour, we went out into the heart of the city where we wandered onto less traveled roads full of children playing, many of whom probably rarely see oburonis. They walked around with us and were excited for us to take pictures of them making crazy faces so they could run back over and see the results. The best one I got featured a girl holding a chicken over another girl’s head. Again, it’s on Facebook, check it out. Along the sides of the road, we saw many people playing a game that looked like checkers. My friend John was interested, so he asked a couple of men how to play. They eagerly brought him and the rest of us over to sit and had John take a shot at the game. It starts off the same as regular checkers, but you can go backwards and the kings do something weird. The most important difference though, is that you can’t simply place your piece where you want it to go. Through the Ghanaians’ example, we learned that you must slam the piece down on the board. It’s way more interesting that way and a good way to wake your opponent up if you’ve taken too long on your turn.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Breaking Out of the City

5 February 2010
We’re in Cape Coast today! The Brockport group is taking a weekend trip to this town that’s about three hours west of Accra. We crowded ourselves into the epic and wonderful Brockport van that’s basically a non-dilapidated tro-tro and made our way out this morning.
Our first stop was Elmina Castle, a Portuguese structure used for slave trade. We went at the end of the day and our guide seemed to have some place he’d rather be. Unfortunately, this was reflected in the tour. Nevertheless, we saw the space, and after hearing much about slavery back home, it was interesting hearing stories in and from Africa. Also a little odd. Everyone was respectful, but no one seemed caught up in emotion either, and it was difficult knowing how to react myself.
After that, we went to our hotel. Our hotel with running water and toilet paper and air conditioning and hot water that we actually wanted because of the air conditioning. It was a little overwhelming. We loafed around there a bit and had a dance party and a lovely time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lazing on a Thursday Afternoon

4 February 2010
I spent all day dropping classes. It really took all day. I had to go to each department separately and some places told me I needed to pick up forms from buildings across campus before talking to them. Gah. It’s easy to spend a lot of time doing very little here. In most cases, it’s not really a big deal though. When the music department told me I needed to walk across campus to get a piece of paper they easily could have kept in their own office, I figured I’d add one more casual stroll in the lovely balmy weather. So I wandered my way across campus. No point in rushing. It’s not like I had anything else to do today.

Dawn of the Apocalypse

3 February 2010
We had a semi-productive morning rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast this morning. Whoa.
I went to choir today. I think it’ll be a really great course. We’ll be learning songs in English and Twi, and OH MY GRACIOUS THERE ARE SO MANY GUYS. And they sing beautifully. And many of them are basses. Beautiful basses. Like, there are more men than women. I don’t know how to deal with how excited I am about this. For those of you who don’t know, Goucher usually has to hire tenors and basses for chorus. And they’re all over the place here. And did I mention they sound amazing?
So obviously they don’t have me singing tenor. In fact, I went to sit in the alto section and my voice professor came over to me and asked, “Are you sure you sing alto?” I told him that’s what I generally sing, but that I could sing something else. He told me that I was definitely a soprano and told me to go sit there, further adding to my voice identity crisis. I love my fellow sopranos!
Only problem: In addition to our Wednesday afternoon class, we meet at 7:30am on Fridays. Yuck. Ghanains get up so early. Also, funny thing: I meet with my 3 credit classes about 1-2 hours a week. I meet with my 1 credit classes 3-5 hours a week. Go figure.
Doing something at rehearsal + guys in choir = Grab your towels folks, the end is near.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


2 February 2010
I had my first voice lesson today! It was really exciting to sing some classical material again. Right now, I am working on Where’er You Walk, by Handel. I really enjoyed my lesson, but not surprisingly, it was a little strange. It was held in the same classroom as my Music in Southern Africa class, which can hold 50 or so students. There were a few people in the classroom when I got there, and they just stayed and hung out during my lesson. Sometimes they sang along. Sometimes they came in early when they did so. And in the back of my head, I knew this was amusing and odd, but it didn’t really faze me. I’m sure back home I’d be really annoyed and distracted if someone did that, (and Richard would never have it) but here I just rolled with it. It’d be really useful if I could carry that tolerance back to the States, but there are many things that I feel I just accept because I am in Ghana. As we and even the Ghanaians say, "TIG." This is Ghana. Prepare yourself for anything. Anything.

Not My Classiest Day

1 February 2010
I went to Music in Southern Africa again today. The professor showed up with 15 minutes left to the end of class. This didn’t seem to bother him or the other students. He started setting up the projector. This didn’t go very well, so we sat there doing nothing still. After about ten minutes of no success, he wrote a website up on the board and told us how to find two articles that we were to read for homework. And said we’d have a quiz on them next week. Someone came in to help with the projector and about ten minutes later they had it up and working. Though he had already given us instructions, our professor really wanted to go to the website and show us exactly where we needed to go. And we did some more waiting. But the internet wasn’t to keen on working that day, as is often the case on campus, and he could not pull up the site. For some reason though, he was able to get the Wikipedia site to load and he looked up similar articles there and gave us an overview of what we’d be reading. By the time he finished, he had kept us all but 15 minutes of an extra class period. This is the only class I absolutely cannot drop. Ugh.
My Conflict in Society professor did show at all today. What a bummer. I had hoped to elaborate my tree drawing/ conflict model.

Separating Light and Dark Laundry? No Problem.

30 January 2010
I finally made the attempt to do laundry today. Here’s how it worked. And didn’t work. I used two buckets. Elsa and I went halfsies on buckets because they are terribly useful to have, as we’ve found and you can’t be Ghanaian if you don’t have two buckets and two cell phones.
I’m digressing, but you've got to hear about the cell phones, so I’ll get back to laundry in just a sec. It’s true. Most Ghanaians who have phones have two of them. Everyone I ask about this will just say, “In case one of them is off,” as if that made complete sense. I have recently found though, that apparently certain networks work better in different places. Since pay as you go phones are the norm here, it’s not outrageous to simply have one phone with Tigo wireless (which is what I have) and one with MTN. Tangent over.
People do laundry in a number of places, but I decided on our balcony-porch thing. I filled the two buckets with water using the showers and lugged them out to the porch. This gave me a soapy bucket and a rinse bucket. My first look into the buckets was disheartening. I hadn’t so much as dipped a sock in the water, but it was cloudy and brown-ish. This makes me feel super about the showers I’m taking here. I looked away and went to grab my sheets, because I would need them to dry in time for sleeping.
This was probably an intimidating way to start my task. I had never used bar soap to wash clothes before and I feel that the large surface area I had to clean added significantly to my confusion. The buckets are large wastebasket sized. The soap, buckets, water and sheets got into a bit of a tiff and tidal waves of epic proportion ensued. Eep. I warned Elsa that I had done horrid things with the room and that I would clean it up once I felt I was done with my mess making.
Then came drying. My friend Emily lent me some cord to string across my room. (I’ll try to post some pictures on Facebook.) This may seem like a really classy way to decorate a room, but what you may not realize is that if you don’t wring the heck out of the sheets, you will create new bodies of water in your living space. I’m all about puddle jumping of course, but there’s something less satisfying about potentially falling on unforgiving tile. So I did a lot of wringing, which in my opinion is a pretty satisfying task when done well. It leaves a healthy burn in the arms that assures me I will leave Ghana totally jacked. Score.
The water got really gross really quickly. I ended up going through about ten buckets of water before getting fed up with the waste and the feeling that I wasn’t getting anything clean, plus running out of drying room. I decided it was time for a break. I cleaned up, as promised, and went to the Creamy Inn with some friends, who like me, were craving some ice cream.
The Creamy Inn is part of a fill-up (gas) station mart, which also has two for one pizza night on Tuesday at the Pizza Inn area. (There is also a Chicken Inn). What they do not have on the menu, apparently, is ice cream. Here is my theory: Ice cream is a big tourist joke to Ghanaians. They have it on half of the menus here, but they never actually have it in stock. We’ll ask for it and they’ll look at us like we’re crazy for thinking they’d have such a thing. They did actually sell it in cartons here, though, so we got one and split it among the group.
I would like to go to bed now, but my sheets are still wet. I feel that they and my other clothes are gathering massive amounts of dust now, and that nothing really got clean. Looking at my once white computer further confirms this thought. It turns browner every day. That’s pretty much the case with all of my stuff. Not me though! I’m still about as pasty as ever.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Slowing Down-- Hey, when in Ghana...

29 January 2010
Alright, nothing exciting happened today. Think I may not do a post for EVERY day at this point. Sorry to anyone who thought I’d have spine-chilling, life-threatening adventures every 24 hours while in Ghana.

The Ghanaian Good Cheer Mandate

28 January 2010
Sure enough, rehearsal this morning started its usual hour late. I have no words.
Later today, I had a class in the Home Science department called Housing Design, which I’m super excited about, because building things is awesome. That was canceled though. I will be excited to give more updates in this area when possible.
I decided to get a kebab at a stall on the way back from my not class. It was quite tasty, consisting of beef and onion. They actually do eat kebabs right off the skewer here, which I think is fantastic, because that is what I like to do at home anyway and I get weird looks. But that’s not why I’m telling this story. As I was making my way through my snack, a man called me over to talk and said something in Twi that I did not understand. He laughed at me, as Ghanaians are wont to do and finally explained that “When someone says [whatever he said], it means you have to give me some of that.” I replied with, “No, sorry, I don’t share kebabs with people I don’t know.” He said, “Okay, maybe another time.” And I just let him go on thinking that.
Today was the Nigeria vs. Ghana football game. There are Nigerians and Ghanaians living in our hostel, and they have a tendency to not get along very well apparently. From what I can understand, Nigeria is disliked by a number of countries and is known for being unfriendly, though I have no particular experience with this. Every time a goal was scored, a roar erupted form throughout the building. That’s all I was witness to, but I have no doubt that this roar was heard throughout the country. Ghanaians get PSYCHED about their football, which is exciting for everyone involved. There are three TVs in ISH (our hostel), and people crowded around all of them.
And then we won. Students ran through the halls, blowing plastic horns, waving flags, yelling, etc. Someone ran into the courtyard with champagne for whoever got to him first. A crowd then ran out of the building and into the parking lot. We went onto the balcony to get a view. A number of people got into cars and started racing around the parking lot, doing turns, with some people hanging out of the windows. On the sidewalks, people cheered and yelled. A couple cars ran into other parked cars at times, at which point the owner of the parked car would walk out to the lot amiably enough, check out the damage and move his car. There was no chance any Ghanaian was going to be unhappy this evening.