Illova Blog #1: Greetings from Ghana
Sept. 11, 2012
Senior women's tennis player Tatianna Illova is studying abroad in Ghana, Africa for the Fall 2012 semester, and will be blogging to share her experiences during her time over there. Tune in for updates over the next few months to see what she has to share.
It has been more than a month since I got to Ghana. I am an international relations major so I'm required to study abroad. I picked this country because I wanted to experience a completely different life than the one in the U.S. and Europe (since I am from Slovakia, and have been in the U.S for three years). It took a long time to get everything ready in order to be able to study here, but yes, here I am.
My plane ride was amazing because, somehow, I ended up in first class so I had my own big space. I could have made a bed of my chair! They offered me champagne, a menu with two appetizers, four meals and four desserts with different kinds of wines and drinks. It was the first time I did not want to get off the plane. As soon as I got off the plane, I felt the air and it was completely different than what I was used to. I met some people from my program group at the airport when they picked us up. We got a ride to our dorm on a "trotro" which is a van packed with people and suitcases on top of the roof.
The first three days were very tough because seeing poor areas; trash on the streets and in the gathers was very strange to me. Although, I got used to it pretty quickly thanks to all of the kind people around me. Ghanaian citizens are very chilled, relaxed, do not rush anywhere, and are almost always late for everything. When they say 9 a.m., they actually mean 10:30 a.m.
I had been enjoying Ghana so much until I got sick. Thinking I had malaria (which is very common here) I only got food poising. It was horrible! After five days, I was upset, mad and regretting that I came here. As the time went by all of us were getting sick. Either it was malaria, food poisoning, a stomachache, or it was something else. My stomach has been upside down for weeks now, but I am starting to get used to it.
This country has very strong cultural rules such as not eating while walking, not using their left hands to eat, wave, greet, and so on. They always eat with their hands which is a little strange, because they even eat Banku (which is a big ball of dough with soupy stew) using their right hands. There is a reason why they do not use their left hand, but I think it is little inappropriate to mention. Other than that, I have experienced many ups and downs such as hospitality and discrimination, happiness and homesickness, feeling very happy versus being sick and upset, and many others.
This study abroad will bring me so much experience and a much bigger perspective on life. I will learn about myself, and I believe it will change my character a bit. I have to learn how to be satisfied with just a little bit. There are no water fountains here and I have to buy my own drinking water. I have to wash all of my clothes by hand, and there is no hot water, so showering in cold water is my daily routine.
my drinking water in a plastic bag (it really tastes like plastic).
There is so much more to say about Ghana, life here, and how it is changing people's characters. There is a time when all of us really want a little bit of comfort. Sometimes, just sitting in a living room and watching a TV, or some NC State game sounds so amazing, but it will not happen for the next four months. There are not entertaining things such as TV's, video games, movies, board games, or nice and cozy coffee shops. We have to entertain each other without those things. We travel, go on trips, hike, do sports, and actually communicate and chat with one another face-to-face - not on social networks.
Canoe ride to Nzulezo, village on stilts.