Barbara H. Padnos International Center
130 Lake Ontario Hall
Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is that it was an experience of a lifetime. I know it sounds cheesy but truly not one day goes by where I don't think about the friends I made, look through my pictures, or reminisce of all the amazing memories I made. My semester I spent at UCC has changed my life forever.
Q: Why did you choose this destination?
A: I wanted to immerse myself in a culture that was drastically different from the one I grew up in. I have been fortunate enough to spend time traveling with my family to several countries in Europe as well as China. Therefore I was drawn to Africa, and more specifically Ghana due to the partnership we had with UCC.
Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?
A: The classes were very disappointing and frustrating at times. Instructors were not overly welcoming to myself and other international students. However, by the end of my experience I found that I gained so much more then just a different academic experience. It was truly about learning how to socially be accepted by other students and the connections and friendships I made.
Q: What are some things you would like students to know about studying abroad in this destination or the program provider you studied with?
A: Be ready to relax and take a few deep breaths. The culture is not all about this fast paced life that so many of us live. I will be the first to admit that it was enjoyable to not have my phone blowing up with Facebook notifications and constantly checking my email. However, since I am used to constantly running around from classes to work to my internship, I found it helpful to volunteer and plan plenty of short weekend trips.
Q: What advice would you offer?
A: It is hard, but I would try to disconnect with everyone back home. Not completely because everyone needs to hear a familiar voice every once in awhile, but I found it helped to have a schedule. I made one phone a week and rotated mostly between my parents and my boyfriend. It gave me something to look forward to, yet helped me keep my everyday focus on the amazing culture I was surrounded by, and not everything I was missing back on at home.
Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?
A: My academic goal was not so much to focus on the class work, but to focus on what Ghana could teach me about responsibility, respect, and independence. It was an amazing semester to not just grow stronger as an academic student but to also grow as an adult as I prepare to face my senior year and enter the grown up world.
A: Wow. I guess the first thing I think of is how difficult it is to truly describe it. People ask me all the time, How was Ghana? And it's like, HOW am I supposed to just answer that?? It was amazing, it was 180 degrees different from my life back in the US in every way possible. The heat, the blue skies and the salty ocean, the food, the vibrant colors, the loud music..chaotic, that's what it was. Beautifully chaotic.
A: I love cultural anthropology and wanted to go somewhere very different from Michigan. I think I picked the right place!
A: The campus was way bigger than I thought it would be. I thought it would also be "wetter" during the wet season, but it didn't seem to even rain that often. Class expectations are much more different there-- stricter in some ways and more relaxed in others. I somewhat knew what to expect so I didn't really have much culture shock going there. It helped but I was obviously still learning and seeing new things everyday. I didn't expect to not get a hot shower once while I was there but alas, no hot showers!
A: You might have to go out of your own way to figure something out or get something done. But also remember that Ghana is way more relaxed than the US, so don't bother yourself worrying and stressing over there the whole time because what you're freaking out about is probably not even a big deal.
A: Be open-minded. Try everything. The food, events, "hot spots" within Ghana, etc. Be respectful and polite. Challenge yourself and always be on your toes. You can be assertive without being disrespectful. Remember, you're there on a once in a lifetime trip: Run with it, embrace it, appreciate it.
A: I wanted to learn the country's history and culture and I think I got that :) I learned way more outside of the classroom than in, but it's something I needed to be there for an extended period of time to do. It's also something I couldn't have learned merely touring there on vacation. You have to put yourself in certain situations to find out what it's really all about.
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