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Ghana

Sandra Price's Experience

Name: Sandra Price
Major: English
Program: Literature of the Slave Trade
Traveled Abroad Before: No

Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?
A: There was so much change, and personal growth. It wasn't even about the classes. Yes, I came home with more credits than I left with, but what I learned about myself as a student and as a person was what I still remember today, not what we learned about.

Q: Why did you choose this destination?
A: It fit into my major, and was the cheapest one. Those were my initial reasons for going. After I started to tell people and I got the looks of "you're going...to Africa?", it became more of a symbolic thing for me, doing something I really wanted to do in face of everyone telling me it was a stupid and dangerous idea (which was an ignorant thing for them to say to me)

Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?
A: Saying Hi to people was the biggest change for me, especially on the campus. In Ghanaian culture, everyone greets each other, says hi when you pass on the street. A very simple form of respect we've lost in today's society, I feel like. If you say hi to a stranger you're passing on campus, they will probably ignore you an just keep walking. One of the things culturally that was most difficult to get used to however, was the constant use of my right hand. In Ghanaian culture, it's rude and unsanitary to use your left hand for interacting (shaking hands, handing someone money), and I am a very left handed person. I was constantly insulting people and having to apologize, because it was never something I've ever had to think about. Eventually I got into the hang of it, but it was so tough.

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: Learn about the culture before hand. Go into Ghana knowing a few words. Everyone I met (most specifically Taxi drivers, some of the nicest people you'll ever meet) would try to teach me a new word. If you walk in knowing your day name, or how to say hello in Fanti, that helps bridge the gaps between cultures so much. People are so much friendlier once they realize that you've put in time and effort into their culture and it erases the traveling "ugly American" stereotype.

Q: What advice would you offer?
A: Do things that scare you, that make you uncomfortable. The motto of this study abroad trip has been "There is no growth in a comfort zone, and no comfort in a growth zone." Realizing that and embracing it helped me the most while I was in Ghana. Anxiety is something I've struggled with all my life, but putting myself out there and doing things I wouldn't normally (this includes going to Ghana itself) has made me realize so much more about myself than if I had just stayed home and taken these classes in the US.

Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?
A: To learn about a culture different from me. While the content of the courses weren't unfamiliar to me, where we were going was completely foreign. I wanted to learn the most that I could learn from Ghana, and staying at the University of Cape Coast, specifically all of the things I couldn't learn when I was at home.

Question? Email Sandra!

Anna Stromberg's Experience

Name: Anna Stromberg
Major: Hospitality and Tourism Management
Program: University of Cape Coast-Partnership
Traveled Abroad Before: Yes

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.

Question? Email Anna!

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