I’m almost done packing but still cannot believe that I am actually leaving Ghana today. After three months, I have completely adjusted here and will probably have a bit of reverse culture shock after returning home. I’ve made a point to stay busy so I won’t have to focus on all of the good-byes I will be saying in a few hours.
If I could offer advice to someone planning on doing an internship in Accra, Ghana, my first piece would be to make sure to research the country. Understanding the history, cultural, and religious practices will come in handy, and help reduce some culture shock. Learning a few phrases of Twi, the dominant local language, will also go a long way. I decided not to do any research because I wanted to be surprised and that just resulted in culture shock.
Communicate effectively! This counts before you even arrive to Accra. If there is any confusion about any part of your experience, make sure they are sorted before you leave the U.S. We had a lot of problems with communication with all of the researchers we were working with, which led to frustrating delays. So be open and willing to communicate as soon as a problem arises. And if you’re thinking about traveling, get all documents for multi entry visas before coming.
Be open minded and willing to go out of your comfort zone! And try hard to befriend locals! One of the most exciting parts of doing an internship abroad is the potential for amazing experiences. But these won’t happen if you aren’t willing to try new things. A great way to impact your experience is to meet local people around your age. I struggled with this because of the location of my hotel and work. Hanging out at the local university can help you find some new friends.
Find fun cultural events to go to! This may sound obvious but it can be more difficult than it seems. The best way is to befriend locals and they can keep you informed and help you buy tickets. I was able to attend the annual Ghana vs Naija concert, where the biggest stars from Ghana and Nigeria performed, including Shatta Wale and DaVido. It was amazing to see how much locals love their country’s musicians. Now I have a new genre of music that I love.