Ghana: An Experience of a Lifetime Past Review

By (Biology, General., SUNY - College at Geneseo) for

SUNY Geneseo: Kumasi - Global Health in Ghana

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned more about myself on this trip than I did about Global Health. Being put in a completely different environment, I was forced out of my comfort zone. I had to learn to adapt to accommodate others, rather than having people adapt to accommodate me. I went into the trip looking for clarity about what career I should choose and I found it. When I started the trip I thought I wanted to work in a developing nation because they need the most help, but now that I've been to a developing nation I realize that there are places in the United States that are equally in need. As Americans it seems that we tend to think we've got it all figured out, but this trip taught me that we have some things to learn too.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The class was discussion based, which I really liked. We fell a little behind due to travel complications and so we missed a few of the lectures. I don't think that hurt the class terribly, but it would have been nice to cover all of the information. We also had many guest lecturers. I really enjoyed hearing about research that was actually going on in Ghana, but some of the lecturers were difficult to understand. Overall, I found the course to be very interesting. It is definitely more geared towards science majors though.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our professors were very accessible during the trip. They both held office hours every day and we went on all of our class visits together so we spent most of the day with them. In terms of ability to get things done, things got done, but not always very efficiently. Some of the disorganization is attributable to the location of the trip. Internet access and communication by cell phones is limited in Ghana, so making reservations and planning outings was difficult. This also made it difficult when the professors had to alert the students of an itinerary change. The program size was good. We had 13 American students in our group and 6 Ghanaian students. I think that if there had been any more of us traveling to the various hospitals and site visits would have been difficult. Most facilities in Ghana are not equipped to have tours of more than 10-15 people. Also there were times when we'd go to busy public places and it was hard to keep track of even just 13 American students. My expectations for this course were almost all met. I learned exactly what I was expecting to. The one thing I would have liked that we didn't do is volunteer at one of the hospitals we visited and spend more time there rather than seeing so many different hospitals. I would also have liked to see a bigger variety in the types of places we went for site visits. We mostly went to hospitals, but it would have been interesting to see things like a NGO or a sanitation facility.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We had very comfortable accommodations. We stayed in nice hotels when traveling, and in a guest house on campus. All had running water, electricity, air conditioning or fans. The only thing I did not like about living in the guest house is that we were somewhat isolated from the rest of the campus. It would have been nice to live closer, or with, the Ghanaian students.

* Food:

The food is so good! It's very spicy, but you get used to it. There isn't as much variation in food choices so I started to get bored after a few weeks. In terms of dietary restrictions, it is doable to find vegetarian options, but not vegan. Also there were a number of foods that I missed eating, especially dairy products, which are rare in Ghana. Other foods I missed were fruits and vegetables. Although you can order salads and fresh fruit, it is not recommended that you eat it because it could make you sick.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We learned a lot of the culture from the Ghanaian students in the class. They were able to take us off campus and show us around town, which helped us get a sense of what really living in Kumasi would be like. The program offered a few trips that focused on culture. One of these was a visit to the craft villages where people made and sold traditional Ghanaian cloth and art. We got a chance to help weave some of the cloth and learned a lot about how each item was made.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? There were a lot of unanticipated expenses, including: - Visa fees - Travel to Dulles airport in Washington DC (although future trips might not leave from there) - Miscellaneous items that we needed to buy to bring with us that I didn't already own (mostly clothing) - Tuition (I say this only because it wasn't included under the total estimated cost on the fact sheet Study Abroad gave us. A lot of us were caught by surprise when we realized that the estimated cost was missing our tuition.)


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

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  • Hotel
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This was a very good program if you are a flexible person. With the communication difficulties things tend to be a bit unorganized. I was able to take this in stride and didn't have any problems, but other people on the trip definitely were frustrated. Another thing to be aware of is that there are quite a few costs that were not listed on the original cost sheet. These included vaccinations and visa fees, and since we left from Washington, DC, travel costs to the airport.