Culture clash

18 Feb

So I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not blog enough so I’m going to try to do about a blog a week. Good idea? 
I thought so. Capture my year abroad and improve my writing skills.

So i’m pretty sure that I mentioned I changed host families, right? First off I’m living in a way better location, I’m not out in the middle of nowhere (okay, that’s a tad bit dramatic but it was far away from everything), now I’m in Greater Accra right by Kanshie (but I still haven’t gone to the huge market that I read has an awesome bead section) and it only takes like less than 5 minutes for me to get a tro tro from circle, (at my other place I could literally  be waiting for hours). Basically new place=awesomeness. The family itself is also amazing, I told my mum that I wanted to replace all of my American clothes with Ghanaian ones and she responded with: “oh they have quality (inexpensive) cloth in Togo that could last 30 years! When I get money we’ll go over and get some” okay mum let’s just hop over to the neighboring country to get fabric. Needless to say she’s great. But with new family comes a new house, new food, new germs. My stomach went through the same tough time adjusting to food as it did when I first arrived here in Ghana. I also got malaria, (yay malaria!!!…NBD) along with some strange gastric infection that made me feel like puking and gave me insane stomach cramps, but I got to miss school so how can I complain? Anyway, two visits to the “hospital” and 8 different types of drugs (taken three times daily) later and I’m feeling great. Except about going back to school. 

Speaking of which, I’m about to go so hard complaining. AFS says I complain too much (me? Complain, Never!)! School is, for lack of better words (sorry Nana), shit. I am more than confident that my GPA will be absolutely destroyed if they use my Ghanaian transcript in The States. Not only am I managing to scrap up a passing grade in only about two subjects, but somehow, English is not one of them. We only get about 3 to 4 teachers a week when we’re suppose to get 6 teachers a day and when they do show up we learn what I was taught my freshman and sophomore year…except English, we’re definitely learning what I was taught when I was 6 (okay, okay English is their second language but seriously? Come on!)

Thee other day the whole class had to watch, as a warning, a boy get canned several times by a teacher. Everyone in the class watched and some even laughed as my fellow classmate was lashed countless times. Everyone watched aside from myself and  Dana (the new American exchange student) for we couldn’t stomach watching. The worst part isn’t the canning (though that’s terrible), but having to sit, watch and do nothing. What type of person is just going to standby and let this happen? 
Not I. 
That’s what I thought anyway…I don’t think i’ve ever been so surprised at myself-ashamed. But I had an argument with myself, one part says “you know this isn’t okay, where are your morals? Stand up for this kid, fight the power!” but the other part says “you’re an ambassador who’s suppose to show we accept differences” where did this lead me? Sitting with my head down, my fingers in my ear and humming, trying hard to block out the sound of a hard wooden cane being drawn back. Now that I think back I feel I should have stood up and walked out, but it probably would’ve been as effective as my first option, all I could think was; You can’t do that. But here in Ghana it’s their “culture” and even the students being canned believe it to be necessary. I couldn’t help but feel sad and even upset that this was all happening in front of me and it is socially acceptable. I had a hard time keeping tears from falling and my hands from trembling. I don’t mean to bash AFS but they say “it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different” but this was too much, it’s not good, it is bad and it most definitely is different. 

When the teacher took notice that Dana and I was uncomfortable we tried expressing our views and opinions only to be quickly shut down and dismissed. 

People say you find yourself and all that cheesy hallmark crap when you go abroad at a young age, but it’s somehow true. I never thought i’d be one to sit and do nothing whiles someone is being canned in front of me and others sniggered. I was always certain I’d be the one to stand up, stop it, do something-anything.

But I guess I was wrong.

I know that was a dramatic ending and it would probably be best to leave it like that but I also have to mention that canning in all schools in Ghana is illegal! But then again…so is prostitution (:

Advertisements

A rubber

17 Jan

Being an exchange student or in other words, being an Ambassador, I never get sick of hearing that, you have to be prepared to be stuck in long, god awful conversations with people about all types of things; your country, politics,religion, your favorite color, all kinds of jazz, and I was completely prepared for that. What I didn’t see coming was Ghanaian’s total lack of something very important. You know that little voice in your head that tells you to shut up because you see the look on the person’s face whom you’re talking to? In America I know a few people who also lack this necessity but I feel  I’m pretty good at wiggling my way out of those conversations. But Ghanaians, Ghanaians are, as I have mentioned several times before, extremely persistent! Making it nearly impossible to to get out of a particularly awkward conversation, (a one sided conversation), with your dad about how everyone in your country is murders who are racist  against black people and insists that everyone in your country believes that all Africans are monkeys who live on trees! Then you find yourself in an even more awkward position where you think to yourself, it’s not trees, it’s a mud hut where they only eat after hunting a cheetah down in the African jungle with a sharp sphere, duh. Then at the thought you laugh silently to yourself and then your dad thinks your laughing at what he was saying so then he just goes off in a rant for another solid two hours where you don’t think about anything other than the fact that you’re missing Oprah. How to get out of these sticky situations, THAT’S what they should be teaching us at orientation. But I’ve become particularly skilled at this, the key is nodding your head every so often while saying “yeah” and “uh-huh” with a look of deep concern and understanding. As long as you do that you can completely check out of the conversation, though I would suggest checking back in every so often so you’re not agreeing that everyone in America is in on a giant plan with Obama to take over the world. 
It doesn’t just work on ranting fathers either, it also works on die hard Christians who’s last wish is to convert you and the old guy down the street who keeps asking  for your number. 

Simple, yet affective.

Now I’m sure you’re feeling cheating from my last blog about my trip to Busua so I’ll enlighten you now. Well everything I had brought in my backpack had been completely soaked in salt water and was grainy with sad and I needed a place to put my clean clothes where they wouldn’t get all dirty. So I went down to ask an employee for a rubber. Now okay, I thought I was being all hip and trendy using their British lingo, you know? Really like a Ghanaian, but now I’m just confused. I thought the British used the word “rubber”  referring to a plastic bag. But apparently I was wrong because all I got was bewildered looks and one of the Obrunis actually looked at me with raised eyebrows and said “A-a rubber?” confusion quickly followed by understanding set in and I explained that I needed a plastic bag. To make a long story short, I left feeling extremely stupid and empty handed.

One of the nights someone pointed out that there was a (live) cockroach in my hair and then a few hours later, Avery spit, with a mouthful of toothpaste, in my hair…mmm it really did put the cherry on top of a pretty good day.

Oh, and I ripped my pants (my newly Ghanaian made pants).

I wonder if this is all sounding like a giant complaint rather than a reflection of my trip? Well it isn’t suppose to, I truly did have a great time despite my luck. But you know when I get home I’ll be able to give really good detailed stories with hand gestures, facial expression, the whole nine yards. Until then, this will have to suffice. 
 

Six months left!

10 Jan

Isn’t wired to think that I’ve been gone for four months? Because when I think back it doesn’t feel like any time has past at all, but at the same time it feels like an eternity! I look back on pictures I took my first week and it’s strange to think how much has happened, how much I’ve changed. I think I’ve matured, but I’m sure others would beg to differ… And now I have another six months ahead of me, half a year, so much can happen in that time period. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not like a whole new person who’s found them-self. But it’s just interesting. 

Anyway, that was a little deep for the first paragraph. Well Kali, who was the only one who replied to my request of blog topics, said anything and everything, just take note that after four months of living somewhere you’ve seen and done practically everything and quickly run out of topics to talk about BUT I shall still tell you about a marvelous trip I just took to Busua which is near (or inside, I’m not really sure) Takoradi which is to the West of Accra and there are thee most beautiful beaches there I’ve ever seen! National Geographic status, once again, pictures when I return, it takes too long to upload one picture, plus i haven’t taken many because it makes me feel like a stupid tourist and I’d rather just be in the moment, you know? Anyway Drew, Avery, Ida, Balthazar, Kyla, Logan and I all went and spent three days basically just being beach bums and it was so nice! It may sound kind of lame but after spending 4 months in Accra (smaller, dirtier NY) It was exactly what I wanted. 

My family life is…a train wreck!  In the great words of Daisy, my family is mostly comprised of douchebags (I hope they never read this)! My mom use to be great; funny, talkative, basically me but Ghanaian, now she’s horrible and only talks to me when she wants to insult me. My dad just sits in his room and supposedly is working, I wouldn’t know seeing as I’ve never been aloud to see his room, but he’s just blah. And all of my siblings now treat me the same, they all simply ignore me. For once in my life I spend a majority of my days in silence…can you even imagine?    Somehow it’s nice, self reflection all that jazz but talking is like breathing for me. I can go without it for a few seconds, even a minute if I really concentrate, when I sleep it slows down, but my body still needs it! But mostly I only speak when spoken to (“good morning” “good evening” “thank you” and of course when I sing in the shower). I’ve never noticed how loud silence is before it just screams in my ear, it’s eating away at me, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to handle it. So I’ve asked AFS Ghana to get me a new family…still nothing has happened but i’m trying to be patient. Now don’t freak out, (yes I’m talking to you mom) I can handle it, you don’t need to lose it and start calling up AFS USA. I thought I could handle them, I tried to manage-their unmanageable!!! Cross your fingers for a new, wonderful family! 

Well I haven’t got much else to say except if you want some good laughs and detailed descriptions about Ghana go to my friend Avery’s blog. He has a modem so he blogs er’ day plus he has pictures: averysegal.com but don’t be creepy on his blog *cough* Mom! (:

I have some really great things I want to blog about but my Grammies and Nana read this…and AFS is always watching. So we’ll save the really juicy stuff until the end of my year (:

Bush Life

30 Dec

I’ve been boggling my mind about what I should write about, I just have no idea. I think about it and my mind just goes blank, and I know what you’re probably thinking; You’re in Africa, how can you have nothing to write about? Well it sounds a lot cooler than it actually is, like I’m not trying to hate on Ghana but basically all that has happened since last time I wrote is that my back pack was stolen, I paid 12 Ghana Cedis (roughly $8) on a small pack of cheese at a white person market (AND it spoiled because the power was out for three days), and I made asian food with a Ghanaian, Alaskan, and a guy from Florida. 

Oh recently my mother started yelling at me for hiccuping. I told her I can’t help it but she insists it’s “bush life” and then she chuckles (not like, haha chuckle it’s this weird noise they make with their lips, it’s an insult when someone does it to you). So that’s how that’s going. 

So I’m kind of tripping out right now that Christmas is in less than a week and I’m still going to the beach and have the best tan I’ve ever had. It’s just a strange combo. One thing these past three months have taught me is that wherever I live I need snow. Christmas without snow is like cookies without chocolate chips, it’s Thanksgiving without a turkey, it’s America without McDonalds, you get my point? Basically it just isn’t right. This time a year ago I was helping my best friend put up her tree, it’s weird I haven’t even put up a tree at all, I haven’t played in snow, I haven’t put on gloves or a hat (not that I did much in the states), I haven’t sat on my couch wrapped up in my family’s angel blanket in my PJs drinking hot chocolate watching old, lame, but classic Christmas movies. It just isn’t truly Christmas.

Look at this I’m rambling on about snow I almost forgot to tell you guys. Well I go to a Christian school, i’m talking hard core, die hard Christians (well that is, the ones who aren’t prostituting themselves, and no, I’m not joking), and well there is this one girl, she’s the only one I can’t shake and she is determined to convert me. She’s given me two bibles and four Jesus books, I tell her i’m not into it and everything but some how she’s managed to get me to pray to god and ask him to write my name down in the book of life… yeah it’s that bad! That’s Ghana for you, if anyone has any advice as to how to get her the hell away from me, please, tell me!

 Well that’s about it. So seeing as i’ve been drawing blanks as to what to write about leave a comment telling me what you guys want to hear about, about Ghana, about me, about jesus freaks, anything and hopefully I’ll be able to write an exceptionally fulfilling blog.

T.I.G. (This Is Ghana) My Not So Organized Thoughts….

19 Nov

The smell of the sewage, goat poop (and yes, probably some human poop), plantain, and the sweaty guy next to you completely swallow you whole. Not to mention the sound of the mate (money collector on the tro) yelling “CIRCLE, CIRCLE!”, the fan ice seller honking his horn, and practically everyone around you either asking you how you are or telling you you’re beautiful in Twi, Gha,Hausa or SOME TYPE of foreign language.There’s so much happening all of the time your senses hardly have time to embrace it all.
And even though all of those things probably don’t sound too appealing, it’s what I like most about Accra.

Now to switch topics (I warned you it’s not an organized blog, that would take time and effort, two things I’m clearly not willing to give up). Now, 
my trip (or as the Ghanaians say “excursion”) to the Northern region of Ghana was absolutely fan-friggin’-tastic!!! Roughly 20 hours in a bus with 4 people from the U.S.A., 2 Canadians, 1 Danish, 1 Frenchman, 1 German, 1 South American, 5 Belgium Flanders, and 4 Ghanaians and you know you’ve got a party bus. OR a bus filled with white tourists snapping pictures of everything (okay, except for the 4 Ghanaians). Either way it was awesome! We went to Kintampo Falls (and played in an amazing waterfall), Mole National Park and didn’t see any elephants, a kente weaving place (kente is a type of fabric made in Ghana), markets, AND, brace yourself…

Long pause for dramatic affect. 

Huts. 
Yes. You did read that correctly, huts. We were driving in a little town like area, then we were in the middle of nowhere, then lookout, huts.
MADE OUT OF MUD!
 Like National Geographic legit. It was just cool and we actually got to walk around inside of them and during my christmas break I’m planning on going out to a rural area with someone, probably the Danish, and just live in the hut and pretend that I’m a native Ghanaian for like a week. 
NBD.
I’ll upload pictures when the Internet isn’t complete crap and doesn’t take an hour and a half to upload one picture. Basically I had an amazing time and going home was…depressing. But as my mom always  says “you can make or break your own fun” so I’m I’ve been doing my best to keep the good times rolling by being positive and it’s kind of working. I must say distraction is key. I’ve been studying for my S.A.T. and just been reading constantly, I’m kind of a nerd here in Ghana. I mean if there was a library at my school I’d probably be in there all of the time.

Okay enough of this now I’m just going to complain: the amount of sweat I give off in one day could seriously be a world record! It’s just not natural-I’ll be doing the dishes and it’s literally dripping off me; I’ll be sleeping and wake up to find sweat bubbles covering my face, it’s just sick! It’s in these moments of sweaty weakness that I find myself day dreaming about snow, awe snow. But thanks to my handy dandy handkerchief I can at least try and control it, key word here is try. 

Okay next blog it will actually have a purpose.

Drina? umm…okay.

2 Oct

Adriana. Not a hard word. I don’t think so anyway but according to everyone here in Ghana it is. They CAN say it…if they put in the effort–but who has time for effort these days? So instead here in Ghana I am known as “Drina” yeah it’s got a nice little ring to it, but I must say I miss Adriana.

So I have to give a little shout out to my Nana. Nana your seasoning is a hit and they love it! We use all of the time, which of course makes the food delicious!

The other day I had the  good, bad, crazy, different? Opportunity presented to me to watch everyone in the class, (except Drew, the Alaskan, we Americans live the good life here) get beat for talking during break! It was so uncalled for and rather terrifying! I have to admit I almost peed myself a little bit. Kidding, kidding…but seriously. And of course all Drew could do is laugh, it’s his dream to be lashed…*sigh* boys.

I honestly wish I could record everything my mom says, she is so funny and just straight up weird. Yesterday she bought me a gazillion things and after each thing was given to me I responded with “thank you”  and after about the 5th thank you she looked at me and said “stop this ‘thank you, thank you’ just take it” but not in a rude way it was just..weird. Oh gaah I’m not making her out to look very nice, am I? Well she really is great, I laugh so hard when I’m around her (and then get stares from everyone, apparently I “laugh to loud” pish posh!”)

Speaking of outrageous lies, people at school say I talk to much, can you believe that?

I’m going to hop back to my mom again, whenever the power goes out and I say  something like “oh man the powers off again?” I get a puzzled look followed by an awkward silence from my mom who then (a full minute later) replies and is like “oh yeah, lights off, lights off ” I’ve tried to explain numerous times that “lights off” and “the power is off” is the same thing. She doesn’t get it. Oh and just one more thing about her, the other day she told me something about myself that I’ve never been told. According to her…prepare yourself…I have a big butt, just like her. And her butt is big! I was just shocked!“““

Now I have to thank the Shermans/Andersons, without your weird obsession with Harry Potter  I would have never started reading them and that would be tragic. I am now obsessed. At school, while drinking tea, before bed, even on the toilet I am reading Harry Potter.  I love them and I’m only on the 5th one, basically it got me through the first 3 weeks here when I was really struggling to not kill myself and now it’s just here when I need it. I love Harry Potter and I won’t ever deny it again! Yes Daisy it’s in writing: I LOVE HARRY POTTER! And I’ve decided (just now) that Molly Weasly is my favorite character, I picture myself being like her when I’m old. Just subtract the red hair, and the millions of kids, and the magic, and being white, but aside from that we’re exactly the same.

Ghana and the Family

16 Sep

I have been dying to get on here and tell you all about…the good, the bad, and the ugly! Well basically it’s not like what I thought it would be. The books definitely butter it up a bit. There are poor people here, there are beggers, and dirt, and trash, and rude people EVERY WHERE! (Yes, it’s like that in America too), but it was just surprising. It’s no lie when people tell you that the food is heavy. You take two bits of food and you’re stuffed but you still have a plate piled high! I try and eat it all because I don’t want to be rude, but then I get sick and my dad insists on taking me to the hospital. So that’s fun. Everyone says Ghanaian’s are very indirect, which could very well be true, but my family seems really direct. The other day my sister said “How come you’re so fat and your sister isn’t?” Like WTF ha, but it’s okay because fat here is good (: But it’s just so funny how different America is.  Bathing is ridiculous (not good, not bad, just different), you get a bucket and a “sponge” and it’s just…hard. The toilet, don’t even get me started, you have to fill it up with water every single time you want to flush it!! I’ve already come to really appreciate America!

I want to tell you all about my family: My dad, they try to get me to call him Daddy (so not going to happen) –he’s a hard working man who basically is all about word peace. He is also very strict, none of us are allowed to leave the house unless he says (except) Ahmed, who is my 24 year old brother. Overall, he means well.

My Mom, oh Mom. Her English isn’t as good as my Dads or Ahmed’s. She is constantly saying “watch your self” as we walk in the street–she worries about me just as much as my real mom worries about me. If I bump into something in the house or drop something she says “sorry” which I find to be be pretty funny. She is always trying to make sure I’m full. I tell her “no, no it’s okay. I’m full. I’m going to get really fat!” and according to her, it’s not the plates piled high with food that have been fried and covered in oil. Or the fatty (yet delicous) yogurt ice cream she feeds me everyday–but the water. Yes, I bet you didn’t know water makes you fat (: she says, “You drink to much, eat more food, less water. That way you don’t get fat” Oh ya gotta love her!

Ahmed. He is very “knowledgeable” he is so nice and smart and his English–is better than mine. He’s pretty old, 24 and he will soon be done with college. But then dad wants to send him to America to get his masters and PHD, he’s going into business and he says “everyone, everyone makes it America”…ooh goose bumps (: He does a lot for the family, he (some times) helps cook, he does Hakim (a.k.a Prince), Dad, and Mom’s laundry–take note, HAND WASH every single piece of clothing. Basically he’s awesome. He says he’s going to teach me French and Arabic. Arabic so I can better understand the Qu’ran.

Najwaa (a.k.a. sister) does EVERYTHING (her laundry, the food, sweep, turn on/off the fan, mop, clean the bathroom, clear the table) everything. She is very… interested to say the least. Every time I write in my diary or write anything down. She is at my shoulder reading it. She is 18 almost 19 and will graduate in 2013, the same year as me. I’m not sure why she’s so old and in highschool, she started school when she was only a few months old. She will be helping me with Twi, another type of language. Anyway, she’s really nice and says that if a guy at school comes up to me and tries to be my friend I have to say no because apparently here saying you’ll be a guy’s friend means your easy or something.

Oh man, this is going to be hard!!!!

Prince, I love prince. When I go with mom to pick him up from school, the very first thing that I see if cute smile. He is so cute and smart! He already knows more french than me (he is also teaching me) and he is just great. He loves American candy, and tic tac toe, and cards. We talk a lot–he reminds me so much of  Zora (my real little sister) and so I talk to him a lot.

It’s been really hard so far. I try and make the best of it, but what can I say? I miss my mom. I miss everyone. I just want to go home and sleep in my soft bed and wake up and have some good old American cereal, and walk around outside without choking on the air. But I have to try–I know this year is going to be awesome and I have to think of the positive, not the negative. Except  I have to tell you one negative thing, I can’t find my Ipod charger and that’s the only way to skype 😦 okay, well that’s all. I start school Monday, and I’m extremely nervous. I’ll be studying either general or visual art and it sounds awesome but also kind of challenging.

 

Alright well, sorry that my writing is not very good. I’m in an internet cafe and feel rushed with people breathing down my back, (it’s a bit sketchy). Well….until next time.