Abroad in Ghana (Photo Series Day 1)

A picture a day until my next adventure to Hong Kong on the 5th of January.



During my time in Ghana, I stayed at International Student’s Hostel 1, lovingly known as ISH1, with most of the other American international students, a few European international students, a lot of Nigerians, and some local Ghanaians. So welcome to Room 111, the makeshift home of Linda, Chinese-American international student hailing from Chicago, and Evelyna, my Ghanaian roommate from the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana. We are located on the 3rd American floor, but the 2nd European floor since Europeans count what we would consider the first floor as the ground floor and our second floor as the first floor . Trust me, this was actually a struggle to figure out which system someone was using when they mentioned a floor. You always had to ask, “the American 1st floor or the European 1st floor?”

Anyways, this is how my room looked for the first month in Ghana and prior to my roommate’s arrival. It’s actually quite spacious for two people and the door in the picture leads to a small balcony offering a unobstructed 180 degree view of… the ISH1 car park (parking lot) which was actually kind of nice since you can always spot people coming and going and anticipate when the shuttle was coming. It also made a great perching spot for watching sunsets every evening. Other than that, the balcony was where we would hang our clothes to dry and store our cleaning supplies.

Now kind of funny story. I met Evelyna for the first time as I was heading out of the room to go to campus to look at timetables for classes. I briefly introduced myself, exchanged Whatsapp info with her, and made my way out of ISH. Shortly after I left, she whatsapped me asking if she could move stuff around in the room. This is what our conversation looked like and after I messaged back, she never replied.

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Thinking we’d just figure it out after I got back, I went about my business trying to figure out the mess that is course registration. That wasn’t the case. When I returned to my room, I had a nice surprise waiting for me. Instead of the neat set-up that I had just started to feel comfortable with, everything had been moved. Rather than the open set up that I had created, Evelyna had made two distinctive rooms within a room to offer the most privacy possible to the both of us. On one side of the wall it was her bed, my wardrobe, and my bed, and on the other side it was our desks and her wardrobe. So basically if we were both on our beds, we couldn’t see each other, which Evelyna explained to me “you know, as girls (as she turned to me and gave me a knowingly smile), we need our privacy, you understand?” I basically just stood there unsure of how to react and kind of nodded slowly. Right. At the same time, I was a little taken aback at what my supposedly conservative, according to all the information our program has given us about Ghanaians, was insinuating. “Girls? Privacy? For what? You maybe, but me? HA I won’t be needing that.”

Also, when I told her that next time I’d appreciate if she could run it by me before making any drastic changes to our room or moving my stuff, she kind of just responded as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “I Whatsapped you, didn’t you see?”

LOL. WHAT? What kind of logic is that? “Yes Evelyna, I did see, but I never actually said OK or not!”

In the long run, I’m glad she set up our room the way she did and I noticed that most of the Ghanaians opt for that type of set up. As aesthetically unpleasing at it was, I enjoyed my privacy in a country that knows no privacy, and I appreciated not having to watch her and her 30 year old boyfriend straddle each other while I was also in the room. Major scarring averted.

This last picture was taken almost right after I finished packing and right before I left ISH for the last time. So yeah, this was home for 4 months. Sad it won’t ever be again.



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