My time in Ghana has just about come to an end. Tomorrow at 10 p.m. we get on the plane and head back to the U.S. I’m feeling a lot of different emotions right now. I’m super excited to head home and see my family but I also think that the culture shock coming back will be even bigger than the culture shock was coming here. I’m going to appreciate everything a lot more. From my teachers (I now fully understand how hard they work) to cold refrigerators, this trip has really made me realize how much we take for granted. I tried to make a list that was different than things you usually think of.
Some things that I know I take for granted that you shouldn’t are:
1) Clean Bathrooms- We really do have nice bathrooms in America. I won’t go into detail on this one but just trust me. They’re nice. If there’s toilet paper and it flushes, then give thanks.
2) Having wi-fi and a Computer- wi-fi was nowhere to be found here. There was only one computer for all of us to use. For most people here they have to go to an internet café to use the internet. I asked one boy how many times he had ever used a computer and he said two or three times. So never take your wi-fi or computer for granted.
3) Having More than Three TV Channels- Here there are only three TV channels. So if you’re not into Ghanaian soap operas or the news you’re kind of stuck. I never really watched TV here since it wasn’t in English, but my TV has around 800 channels. So I always know that there has to be at least one good show on.
4) Being Considered Normal- Never take for granted not being stared at. I know that’s a weird thing to think about but fitting in is something I totally took for granted before coming here. If you go to the grocery store and people don’t notice you or stop and look you up and down then be glad that you are considered normal. Unless you’re Lady Gaga…
5) Having a Variety of Food- I love the food here but the only meat we ate was fish and chicken with rice. Everyday we would have some variation of chicken and rice with soup or plantains. Starch. That’s pretty much all people eat here. They don’t really eat a lot of vegetables. For once, I miss eating broccoli and salad.
6) Cold Refrigerators- Our refrigerator may have been slightly cooler than the temperature of our house but that is not saying much. Our house was always about 90 degrees and the fridge was probably 60 degrees. For Ghana that’s cold, for America that is not cold. So putting water bottles in the refrigerator didn’t help much. Warm water didn’t bother me much by the end but I know when I get home a big glass of ice-cold water is going to taste even better.
7) Being Able to Drink Tap Water and Having Tap Water- Drinking tap water is something I know I never thought about before this trip. We were lucky enough to have tap water but we were only allowed to drink bottled water. I saw many people when we were driving walking down the road with huge bowls of water on their head getting water for their families. After seeing that I will definitely be more conscious about turning off the tap when I’m done.
8) Climate Control- We are so lucky to have heating and air conditioning. After a long hot day the best feeling is walking into a freezing cold room. Here if it’s hot, then it’s hot. There are fans but those definitely do not work as well as air conditioning. A cold day for them is a few degrees below 80. I remember one day a girl was shivering when it was 80 degrees and she was wearing a jacket because she thought it was cold. Imagine if she walked into a store in America during the summer.
9) Teachers- Never take your teachers for granted. After this trip I realized how hard their job really is. Getting students to understand and enjoy what you’re teaching is a serious challenge and this is something they face everyday. Do your homework and pay attention in class. Even if you aren’t interested in what is being taught, fake that you are. That’s better than lying on your desk taking a nap. It may not mean a lot to you but it means a lot to them. That’s all I have to say.
10) Being Able to See the World- Most of the people who live in Ghana never leave Ghana. They never get to see the world and all that is out there. I wish I could take them all to see America and what life there is like. They wouldn’t believe it. If you have the opportunity to travel, take it because not everyone is given that opportunity.
These are only a few of the things that I know I took for granted. The list could definitely be longer but I thought these were a few of the ones that stood out. I learned so much about the world and myself during this trip. Although at times this trip was tough, I needed to see what life was like here. I know coming back from this trip I will be a different person.
I’ll write more when I return to America but until then appreciate what you have!