In the book Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut writes, "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." Vonnegut is extremely wise in saying this. In the most general sense, I imagine that Vonnegut believes that we should take advantage of rare opportunities, especially those related to travel. Studying abroad in Ghana is my rare opportunity to travel to a country and continent of deep interest that I may never have been able to venture to in life. I wanted to take a risk and travel to a place completely outside of my world of knowledge and comfort zone. In this new world, I will be learning, experiencing, and discovering. So, follow me on my journey!

On that note, akwaaba (which means "welcome" in Twi, one of Ghana's main languages!) Welcome to my blog! Although not every experience or trip is mentioned or explained, I hope that you can learn and enjoy reading about Ghana, one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Feel free to e-mail me or make comments!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The CIEE experience, where I am today, and more photos for your viewing pleasure!

My study abroad experience would not have been the same without the wonderful people of CIEE.  Mr. Kwasi Gyasi-Gymerah, Auntie Janet, the U-Pals and all of the amazing friends I made through CIEE.  CIEE, or Center for International Educational Exchange, makes sure that students are taken care of and that students have the opportunity to make the most of their experience while they are abroad.  I found an internship through CIEE, one that ultimately paved the way for the remainder of my undergraduate career.  I interned with Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) for two months and became really passionate about the rights of women and the issues that women face in developing countries, specifically in Africa.  Now, I am a graduate student at NYU receiving my masters in Global Women's Studies!  I never knew the impact that studying abroad would have on me and I would not have been so successful without the guidance of the people at CIEE.  The office was a pleasant, air-conditioned home-base for students, especially for those who lived in home-stays like myself.  CIEE also provides students with the opportunity to take group trips to main locations in Ghana!  We went to Cape Coast, Kumasi and other amazing places in the country.  They were also kind enough to have a Thanksgiving dinner for our study abroad group, which was held at my home-stay!  We also had CIEE olympics, which was just a fun field day on the beach.  If you are interested in having the best study abroad experience with guidance while also feeling independent, CIEE is a great group to study with!  But most of all, Ghana is an amazing place to study abroad.  It is drastically overlooked as a place to have an incredible cross-cultural experience.  I would recommend studying or visiting here to any human being:)

CIEE Fall 2010!

Everyday, I am impacted by my experience in Ghana.  It has affected me in ways that I did not even imagine!  I was able to grow as a human being and a citizen of the world; I made amazing friends; I used my experience to get the most out of my education at Susquehanna University.  Studying abroad also allowed me to connect with my sweet boyfriend who contacted me because he was interested in studying abroad in Ghana!  He will be leaving in 2 & 1/2 weeks and he will also be keeping a blog about his experience on Tumblr.  Below is a link to his blog if you want to learn even more about Ghana!  He is an incredible photographer and is a more experienced blogger than myself, so he may do Ghana more justice than I ever could.  Nevertheless, enjoy learning about this incredible country!


Dance tutorial!

My friends and me at Boti Falls!

CIEE Olympics

Mr. Gyasi, me, and Auntie Janet

This is what a cocoa bean looks like!

Goats are EVERYWHERE.  They smell and have rectangle pupils.

Beads from the Cedi Beads Factory

Little Yvonne loved my necklace!  She was a little girl of another student's home-stay family.

Feeding Baboons at Shai Hills Resource Preserve

Me and my friends, Maddie, Davida, Morgan and Colleen at Wli Falls!  This is the highest waterfall in West Africa (although the photo doesn't do it justice)!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I leave for home today.  It doesn't feel like I am though.  I feel like I'll be sleeping here tonight, waking up tomorrow and walking to campus.  It's a confusing feeling actually; almost numb in a way.  It hasn't hit me yet and I'm scared for the moment that it does.  Accra, and more specifically, East Legon, has been my home.  It's full of wonder and excitement and joy!  I hope to return someday to see, smell, and taste this place.

Downtown Accra

Independence Arch in Accra

Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana's liberator and first President) Monument

My bedroom!

I can't imagine life without the things I've grown accustomed to here.  Music, dance, food, tro-tros, "oburoni."  Most of all though, I will miss the people.  Ghanaians are such beautiful people-the way they go about everyday life, speak, eat, dance, laugh, interact with you and others is so beautiful and unique.  I will also miss my best friends here.  They are my sisters, my support.  More than anything, I wish to be with all of them again and I also wish to come back to Ghana (hopefully in the near future!).

On the other hand, I am excited to go home to see my family, eat the food I've been missing, take a hot shower, watch my favorite movies, and feel the Christmas spirit!

So, on that note...

Ghana, medɔwo.  Yebehyia bio!

Homestay parents!

Homestay siblings!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My last trip in Ghana: the Northern Region

I must say, the Northern region is probably my favorite part of Ghana.  It seems to epitomize Africa with its barren landscapes, villages with mud huts, and unpaved roads.  My friends and I traveled there last.  The bus ride was about 13 hours and we stayed for only 3 full days.  Somehow, we were able to do everything we wanted to within that short amount of time given that some of the places we wanted to visit were a 4 to 5 hour drive from each other.  In the Northern Region, we visited Wa (Upper West Region), Larabanga, Mole National Park, Tamale, Bolgatanga, and Paga.  At first, things started our a little rough and it sort of resembled our first trip to the Volta Region where it seemed like things were going to go smoothly but didn't.  We were told that we needed to take a bus to Wa if we wanted to get dropped off at Mole National Park.  Halfway through our bus ride, we looked at the traveler's guide and realized that that was not the case.  We needed to take a bus to Tamale in order to get dropped off at Mole National Park!  Whoops.  Instead of panicking, we figured out a new plan in which we would stay the night in Wa and travel early the next morning to get to Larabanga and Mole.  The plan didn't go accordingly but it turned out for the best!

We spent the whole next day just exploring Wa with two Ghanaian guys we had met.  They took us to different mosques (the northern part of Ghana is primarily Muslim), took us out to eat, taught us how to ride motorbikes and took us dancing!  We all had a really good time and were really happy that things didn't turn out as planned.

Overlooking Wa

Showing off:)

The next morning, they saw us off on the bus towards Tamale, which dropped us off at Larabanga.  The bus ride was ridiculous.  The roads aren't paved and it was bumpy as hell.  Literally, we were getting bumped out of our seats!  Sometimes it can be fun but after a while it becomes really annoying.  We finally arrived in Larabanga where we saw the oldest mosque in Ghana and one of the oldest in West Africa.  We also toured the village and were able to see inside mud huts, watch a mud hut being made and watch women make shea butter!  I really enjoy seeing everyday village life because the people are so friendly and so content.  After that, we went to Mole National Park.  We took a short walking safari because we needed to catch a tro-tro to Tamale in the early afternoon.  We were nervous that we wouldn't see any animals, especially elephants, since our tour was so short but we saw wart hogs, monkeys, antelope and elephants!  It was amazing!  We literally had to trek through mud and rivers and rocky pathways in order to see the animals but it actually made the experience so much more fun!  We literally just watched the elephants for 30 minutes eating leaves but we all wanted to because we were in such awe of seeing elephants in the wild.  Our tour guide was really informative and told us all about what they eat, how they eat, how long they live, how they usually die and how they defend themselves.  It was definitely one of my favorite things that I've done so far!

African sunrise

Larabanga Mosque

 Standing ON a mud hut!

A beautiful little girl from Larabanga

Women making Shea Butter

Elephant at Mole!

Overlooking Mole!

After the tour, we needed to take a taxi to Damongo, then from Damongo take a tro-tro to Tamale.  I'm explaining this for a good reason.  Because the roads are dirt, the northern part of Ghana is very dry, and the windows of vehicles are usually open since they don't have air conditioning, we were so dirty by the time we arrived in Tamale (4 hour journey!)  The combination of the dirt, the dry air, the wind and our sweat caused all of the dirt to stick to our bodies and settle in our hair.  I've never been so dirty in my life from just sitting in a vehicle!  But come to think of it, I'm usually dirty after everyday here in Ghana, just not that dirty!  See the filth below:

These are my friend's feet.  And that is not a tan.

After we arrived in Tamale, we checked into our hotel and took really long showers.  It felt so good.  For dinner, we decided to go to a Lebanese restaurant but our taxi driver ended up taking us somewhere completely different but it ended up being a really good mistake!  I can't even remember the restaurant's name but it was delicious!  The menu was fantastic.  They had Ghanaian food of course but they also had American food!  You would think that because we are going home so soon that I wouldn't care about eating American food so much, but no.  Three of us ordered pizza and salad, my roommate ordered a cheeseburger, and the other two girls ordered a sub and spaghetti!  After that, we all ate apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  It was one of the most satisfying meals that I've had in Ghana!  Speaking of food though and going a little off topic, I've realized that I crave Ghanaian food most of the time and lately, I've been craving kenkey, which is something that I hated for most of the time here!  Now, I want to eat it everyday, which is something that I never thought would happen.

Anyway, we all slept really well that night since we had a long day.  We slept in, had a good breakfast at the hotel, then traveled to Bolgatanga to go to the market, then to Paga to see Paga Pio's Palace, the Crocodile ponds and Pikworo Slave Camp.  Paga Pio's Palace is living quarters for the chief of Paga and 700 family members.  The palace was made up of small concrete huts with flat roofs, where people sleep when it's hot, that have paintings on the side of the walls.  It was really pretty because all of the huts were close together with little passageways separating them.  The Crocodile ponds were really fun!  The only bad thing about it was the fact that the tour guide needed to use a fowl to lure the crocodile out of the pond in order for us to touch and take pictures with it.  After we did that, he was going to feed the fowl to the crocodile and none of us wanted to watch so we walked away.  But of course, we were all so curious to see what was actually going to happen.  So, after walking about 30 feet from the crocodile, we all turned around and watched the tour guide throw the fowl in the air and the crocodile snatch it up in its mouth.  Our reaction was equivalent to Dane Cook's reaction to "Mary getting hit in the face by a tire," and if you don't know it, look it up!

Entrance to Paga Pio's Palace

Hide and seek:)

Our last stop in Paga was Pikworo Slave Camp, where captives from Burkina Faso and Ghana were held and sold to slave traders.  The camp was not an ordinary camp but rather a landscape of trees and rocks where slaves would be tied.  Our tour guide explained to us that when the slaves came into the camp, they would be branded with a number for auctioning.  While the slaves stayed there, they ate out of 'eating bowls' carved out of the rocks formations.  They would also play music by hitting small rocks on the big rock formations as a form of drumming, and singing.  If slaves tried to escape, they would be tied to a punishment rock where they would be beaten and left in the sun without food or water.  They would also be tied to the rock if they refused to leave with a slave trader until they consented to leaving.  The saddest part about it was the realization that certain types of slavery, like child trafficking, still exists today.  For me, it was important to realize that I shouldn't be desensitized to slavery because it happened long ago; it still exists today and although it's illegal and I don't witness it, I shouldn't ignore it.

Men playing the rocks and singing for us

The end of the trip was sad for two reasons: we didn't want to leave because we love the north and going back home means we only have 1 and 1/2 weeks left (now only 4 days!)  But I really couldn't think of a better way to end my experience in Ghana.

African sunset