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Published: November 30th 2010
Only two weeks until my semester abroad is officially over. There hasn’t been much time for traveling outside of Accra these past weeks which was ok because I still had a few places to visit within the city. I have spend most of the past week shopping for souvenirs, visiting James Town, Ussher Town, and Independence Square, and of course enjoying the beautiful weather.
James Town is a little historic town in Accra and has several colorful markets and colonial-era houses and shops. I visited the old lighthouse of Fort James and was given a quick history lesson of the town by one of the locals, then went down to the old fishing harbor before settting off for Ussher Town which is just northeast of James Town and within walking distance. There wasn’t much to see here and it was quite dirty and smelly but I did see a bit of colonial architecture and a beautiful church built back in the 1700s. On my way to Independence Square I passed the National Cultural Center, which is where you can buy almost any kind of souvenir you can think of. The sellers there are really aggressive and pushy so you have to be in a barraging mood and not let them push you around. Up to this point I hadn’t bought many souvenirs because I wanted to learn how to bargain for the best deals and get an idea of how much certain things cost. Now that I have been in Ghana for four months I have become a master in bargaining and also know the best places to shop around Accra. I spent a couple days last week shopping for souvenirs and was able to find some good deals. You can bargain for virtually anything in Ghana, it’s a big part of the culture and can be lots of fun if you have the patience for it.
In school I have taken a few of my final exams already including my exam in Traditional Africa Dance. That one was a bit nerve-racking. We were split up into groups of six and had to perform the three dances that we had learned in class in front of the entire class as well as most of the performing arts faculty. Each student had one professor from the dance department grading them so there was no way you could mess up and it not be noticed. Thank goodness I inherited some musical abilities from my dad though because you had to listen to the rhythms the drummers were playing to know when to go into the next part of the dance and African rhythms are quite different and often more complicated than ones we are used to hearing. I did OK though and was able to remember all of the moves.
Thanksgiving was last Thursday and I got to celebrate with the rest of the international students by eating a huge Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. We also got to have cake and pie for dessert, which everyone was very excited about since we rarely have sweet treats. Of course the food was not as good as my Mom’s but I still couldn’t complain because I was thankful to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving at all. After dinner there were several drummers playing so everyone got up and danced and we even did some of the dances we learned in our dance class.
The latest Harry Potter movie finally came to Accra last weekend so I went with a big group of Harry Potter nerds from my hostel. I hadn’t been to the theater in Ghana yet and it was quite the experience. First of all they let you bring any snacks you want into the theater so some people were coming in with grocery bags and just having a picnic. The previews and commercials beforehand were mostly Ghanaian which are always entertaining because they are so bizarre, and during the movie the Ghanaian people like to be quite an active audience, clapping when something good happened and yelling out when something surprised them.
Last Sunday the temperature was about 90 so I decided to go to the beach with a few friends I had made last weekend in Busua. We went to Till’s Beach which is about an hour west of Accra. I had never been there but I had heard it was one of the best beaches near Accra. Of course it was absolutely beautiful even though the strong current made it a bit difficult to swim. I got knocked down and beat up by the waves for a bit before deciding to relax on the beach and read for the rest of the day.
So that’s what has been going on in my life for the past two weeks. This semester has gone by so fast; I can hardly believe that I will soon be back in the cold and the snow. I better soak up the sun while I still can. Off to study by the pool!
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