Saturday, September 6, 2008

This place is a song. But I don't yet understand the lyrics and I can't yet dance along. My eyes ring with the sounds and my ears blur with all of the colors everywhere. Overwhelming.

I can't figure out how long I've been here. I know it's only been a few days, but they have felt as a month long each, and despite being four hours away and hundreds of miles south from where I'm used to, I cannot fully orient myself to anywhere. After two days of traveling with the Germany based Luthuansa airline, numerous uncomfortable airline pillows and countless cups of coffee, we were plopped in Accra on Wednesday evening. The sun goes to bed around 7 pm here, and the cool lingering nights also confuse me greatly when juxtaposed with the brutal 99 degree and 100% humidity days. I'm only beginning to grasp my bearings with all of the numerous campus tours and bumpy tro-tro rides to and from the markets and Accra.

Our campus is about the size of MSU's campus and sits in Legon, just north of the city of Accra. It is at least a 20 minute walk to anywhere from our international student's hostel (ISH 1). We began our Twi lessons yesterday with awkward utterances and giggles. I don't know if any of us, including our American professor, can remember anything. Obruni means white person. I've become well-acquainted with that one--from under-the-breath whispers from Ghanaian students to little kids in the markets who try to convince us that yes, we do in fact need ground cassava or pirated DVDs.

I am shocked to find that Ghana is just as I anticipated it would be. The black exhaust wafting in the air, the over-friendly natives who want my money, the smell of sewage and animals lingering everywhere, and the trash replacing flowers and landscaping on the sides of roads. It reminds me so much of Guatemala that at some times I don't know whether I'm living in reality or in a vivid memory. Yet despite the ecological disasters on every street, Ghana is truly beautiful. It just is beautiful in a different way from what I've seen before. Dark, dark skin, bright, bright eyes, and red, red dirt. I feel like all of the world's artists, musicians and poets would exhaust themselves trying to capture the energy and life of West Africa. It nearly overwhelms my feeble mind.

My roomate Esther is very nice, although she probably judges me every time I give her a blank stare and ask her to repeat herself for the third time as I try to decipher if she truly is speaking English to me or not. Apparently the words "circle" and "sucker" have no audible distinction in the Ghanaian accent. Um, yeah, I learned the hard way that you can't say to a tro-tro mate "sir, please take me to the Accra Sucker." Esther is very neat and tidy and re-makes my bed for me if I don't make it well enough and leave too many wrinkles to drive her nuts in the morning. She is also Miss Social in our hostel. I'm sure this has everything to do with her congenial personality and has NOTHING to do with the fact that our room is one of few in the hostel which houses a TV and a fridge.

Whenever I have a cross-cultural expirience, I'm like an opening bud which has just been shocked by lightening. I close my mouth and open my ears and eyes to sponge-like absorb all that's around me. Then I must take a few days to process it all, and then slowly begin to re-open fully. I'm now finally seeing the electricity leave me, so hopefully I can have myself back in a few days. But it will probably take another few days for my computer to recognize the slow internet connection, so that should give me time to come up with a few more things to say.


gessojane said...

Wow Katie.
Your note gave me goosebumps up and down my arms. I can't believe you are where you are.
You describe it all so's like I can see the colors and hear the sounds.
Thankyou for writing this and in the way that you do.
Absorb everything. Be everything. You are the sponge.
Good luck and keep writing!
I luff you SO much.


Karlee said...


you are so cute. i hope blog comments excite you as much as they did me (yes, all five of them my mother wrote me!)

i hope you keep soaking it all in... i am so excited for you! we talk about you EVERY DAY, and i cannot wait to see you when you get back!

i miss you, you see, and can't wait to read more about all your upcoming adventures!

love, karlee