tiring but builds you stronger, much like the dancing involved January 03, 2016

By (Sociology, Knox College) - abroad from 12/07/2015 to 12/21/2015 with

ThisWorldMusic: Traveling - Study in Ghana: Music, Arts, Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Again, a bit disappointed that no one fed a lemur, but everything else was pretty wonderful

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.

We didn't get to feed any lemurs this time, unfortunately organizers did a great job putting money into the local economy; not staying at US hotel chains, allowing us to buy souvenirs from large local markets, giving us plenty of options of where to go and encouraging us to not feel unsafe. We were even well-supervised, for college kids. If someone broke off from the group, there were at least 3 people you could ask for their whereabouts, because we all had a well-organized system of roommates and cell phones and just enjoyed sticking near each other. While the trip is technically for drum and dance class, there were several chances throughout the trip to go somewhere and see what life is like in a developing country - spoiler, it's harder now since the economy collapsed last year. We even went through Cape Coast Castle museum to learn how and why the country was built up and torn apart by european occupation and slavery. There's not a single day that can be considered a waste of time, unless you opt out of several activities. You're never without learning and never without friends.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Being a tourist and treated so well as a guest - along with my own issues with social interaction - made integration somewhat unlikely, though there was plenty to experience and plenty of attempts made to invite us in. We attended a funeral and visited the local school twice, we briefly hiked through a section of rainforest - which seems to be quite a popular spot to visit - and we visited markets and interacted with self-employed vendors no less than 3 times.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Make sure the tide stays below your knees, and don't take your meds too soon before physical exertion.

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

Finances

* 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)

I was a bit careless with my money and had to get an extra 30 US dollars exchanged near the end, but with the nation's current economic situation it was not difficult at all to get by.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Almost 800 Cedis, about a 30-70 split between food and luxury. Again, I was careless.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Always plan ahead, even from the first day. Set aside at the start money that you absolutely will not spend until the last 2 or 3 days. Exchange a little more than you think you'll want/need, because you can always change back at the end with very little loss.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We had to memorize 3 short songs for the dance and 4 of us took the opportunity to learn some basics of the language beforehand, but we didn't actually need to know much

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I passed French 101, but French is not the language we used here
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Ask the director early in the trip if there will be opportunities for a language class on the first or second day at Dagbe, or well before the trip if he can look up resources for learning the basics of the language. You don't need to know anything prior to hearing the songs, since almost everybody speaks English, but it makes learning the songs easier, and I needed to use small words in Ewe once or twice.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • push me out of comfort zone
  • beautiful locations, but also tough realities
  • deep discussions about social conditions
* What could be improved?
  • teach group how to bargain
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Sand is coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere.

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!