A Perspective-Changing Adventure Past Review

By (Health Science - Public Health, Truman State University) - abroad from 08/10/2015 to 12/07/2015 with

Missouri Africa Program (MAP)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned things about Ghana and West Africa that, in many ways, shattered the picture that Western media paint of the African continent. I learned things about myself - how I respond to uncomfortable and awkward situations, how I respond to being the only white person in a class of 40 students. I learned too many things to list here, honestly. In the end, I know that I have learned and internalized many lessons that I will only fully understand later in life.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

It doesn't seem difficult as your going through the semester, but the exams can be difficult and caught many people of guard. It can be particularly difficult if it the exam material can be graded subjectively such as in a philosophy course.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our program coordinator did not do a lot after the first couple weeks - during which she was extremely helpful. Overall though, she was incredibly nice and welcoming.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It definitely wasn't a five-star hotel, but overall it wasn't too bad. You had to get used to cool showers, no AC, and the noise level outside, but compared to some other dorms/hostels it was pretty nice. The restaurant in the bottom of the hostel and the outdoor tables next to it definitely became a gathering place for everyone in the hostel.

* Food:

The food environment is definitely different, but if you approach it with the right mindset it really isn't bad and can actually have many positive aspects that you don't have elsewhere. First off, unless you're eating international food in a restaurant, the food is cheaper than most people are probably used to. Also, the fresh fruit available everywhere is a definite plus. Some people didn't like the traditional dishes too much, but I found most of them pretty good. Especially the red-red dish and all of the plantain foods.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Ghanaian people are very welcoming and inviting so it's not to hard to experience Ghanaian things while in Ghana.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There are a number of vaccines that you need to get before going to Ghana. While there, the biggest health concerns are gastrointestinal things and malaria. They had a helpful orientation program for us that gave us some direction on what food to trust and what food to be weary of. As far as malaria, most of us from the US were on prophylaxis which reduces your chances of getting malaria and can reduce the severity of it if you do get it. I new multiple people that got malaria while in Ghana and all of them were treating well and all completely recovered. The medical system in Ghana knows how to handle malaria and they do it pretty well.

* Safety:

As long as you follow general safety practices that you would abide by in any densely populated area - you should feel pretty safe. The Ghanaian people are really nice. The biggest safety concern will be felt by women - the men in Ghana can be pretty forthcoming and borderline aggressive if they find someone attractive. I know a few people had their bags stolen from them as they were walking alone at night, but this never happened when you traveled in a group.

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

There is so much value in putting yourself in a very different environment for four months - especially when that environment is one that is often misrepresented in media and culture. There were challenges that I faced in Ghana that I'd never faced before, but there were also amazing experiences that I had while there that I couldn't have had doing any other study abroad experience. I swam in a waterfall, hiked a (small) mountain, saw an elephant, slept on a bus next to national park, went to the beach in November, had custom clothes made for be, went shopping in awesome markets, tried amazing and different food, went to a Ghanaian wedding, walked on canopies among the trees, slept in a tree-house in the middle of a rain forest and many other awesome things. I also hand washed my clothes for four months, got used to inconsistent wifi and the occasional power outage, became comfortable with showing up sweaty to class. and got used to being called obruni everywhere I went. Overall though, I know that my study abroad experience will have a lasting effect on my life and will ultimately make me a better, more compassionate, and more open-minded person.


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I don't really remember.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Take the tro-tros whenever you can - they are much cheaper than the taxis. Be willing to bargain for better taxis prices when you take them (tro-tros aren't usually the best or most available option at night) or else you will pay much more than you should. If you eat the traditional Ghanaian food from the markets you will spend much less money than if you eat often at international restaurants.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The adventures
  • The hospitality of people
  • The things I learned
* What could be improved?
  • More consistent internet/power
  • Less subjective grading
  • Better communication between teachers and international students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Eat the mangoes right when you arrive - they will go out of season after a couple weeks and won't be back until the end of the semester. Travel with Ghanaians the first time you go to Oxford Street so that you can get better prices for the taxis. Pay attention to how to get to places because sometimes the taxis drivers don't know how to get places and you have to direct them. Tro-tros are your friend.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!