CIEE Legon: Life Changing! Past Review

By (Rights and Development, Grinnell College) for

CIEE: Legon - Arts + Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It grounded all of the studies that I have done, and gave me some ideas about what I want to do in the future, too! I stay in touch with several friends and cannot wait to go back!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classroom experiences were not very valuable. I definitely learned things, but not nearly as much as I would expect from a course at Grinnell. It was very easy to skip class (though less so if you were one of only a few foreign students in the class. We were pretty noticeable), and the classes were typically taught in a manner that indicated the professor was always right. This was even true in my African Literature course. One of the important things about being in courses with Ghanaian students, however, was that it was a really good way to meet them. On a campus of 35,000, it can be difficult to meet the students (especially because I was living off-campus).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I thought the program administration was pretty phenomenal. They were extremely helpful with everyone on our program and provided us with the information we needed to do well and have a good trip. Having U-Pals is an incredibly brilliant idea and I wish more study abroad programs utilized it. I also appreciated the trips that CIEE took us on throughout the country. It's fun to travel as a group and get to see some local things and some touristy things.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had an absolutely amazing host family experience. My host parents have been hosting international students for longer than I have been alive, and they are spectacular at it. We also had a lot of "kids" in the house (ages 12-32), which was fun. It was within walking distance to campus, the family helped me in every way possible, and I still keep in touch with them today, a year later.

* Food:

I ate really, really well with my host family. I sometimes ate non-kosher foods (mostly crab) that I would not have eaten at home, as it was mixed into soup, but I just dealt with it because I didn't want to cause a fuss. The campus also has good and very cheap options for students, but it was difficult for vegetarians, I believe. There are also a number of options for getting American food, when we needed a quick taste of home!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The field trips that CIEE arranged for us were pretty cool. I think they did a pretty good job when they had to accommodate 50+ people. I was glad, however, that I could also travel on my own and with friends, because this enabled me to have a more cultural experience, and a more personal experience. It would have been cool if CIEE had organized a trip to/with a festival, but this might require too much organization. One of my favorite experiences was being with my host family in their village. They took my roommate and I for a weekend and we had a blast!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The program director was extremely forthright about the possible health and safety issues that we faced, though I often thought that he was a little over protective. I don't think that many people listened, but it was clear that the directors and U-pals were aware of the possible concerns.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Everyone with whom it was imperative we interact spoke English. We took a foreign language just to be more familiar with the country, and I think this is very valuable. However, my host family spoke a different local language, which made it difficult and somewhat confusing to pick up on Twi (what we were learning in class). It was also nice to have a class with the other students on my program.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people: family, friends, program directors, U-pals
  • Traveling
  • Home stay!
* What could be improved?
  • More diversity in the travel options provided by CIEE
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program is especially valuable for students who are interested in development: learning about it in classrooms, but especially for "doing" it and interning with a local organization. Living in Ghana was a chance to experience the things that I had been studying about development for several years, and it was incredible! I was totally unprepared in many ways, but thoroughly relished all of the experiences that I had. Frankly, I have too many words of wisdom to even attempt to put them here. Just be prepared for anything, and have a lot of fun!!!