I got in last night late, around 10 pm, and all day today we had orientation, where we sat in a room and listened to our resident director (who is very funny and nice) talk to us about safety, our living accommodations, etc. I was initially disappointed to find out that I'll be living in the Ghana Hostels, aka the Pentagon because I requested a homestay but first come, first serve, and I know I'll have a great time living on campus. There are pros and cons with all living situations and in my suite, I will have close access to internet and I'll be right on campus, where (surprisingly) there are lots of restaurants and bars. I was just talking with my hotel roommate, Allegra, about how living in campus housing is cool in the way that you can make your own plans, do things on your own time, and be responsible for only yourself. I am anxious now to find out what campus is like and how my suite is- it was easy to get over my disappointment once I learned who will be living in the same building and they all seem like really sweet people. I'm looking forward to getting a feel for how Ghanaians who are my age live. I will apparently most likely be paired with either a Ghanaian or Nigerian roommate.
A few of us had to exchange money today because we were supposed to be buying cell phones, so we headed down to the Bureau in Legon. K. K, a U-Pal volunteer from the University of Ghana took us there (thank god!!). I will definitely need some time to get used to the fast pace of the transportation systems, especially the tro-tro, where boys hang out of these mini-vans and shout where their car is going. One tro-tro actually started taking off when one of the girls that I was with was still in it. Overall, the experience was crazy and awesome- seeing women carry huge baskets of anything on their heads, almost hitting the people selling anything from plaintains to folding chairs in the middle of the street (as in standing in the middle of the road, between lanes, going up to cars stopped in traffic) to little BEAUTIFUL Ghanaian children clapping and smiling on the side of the road. Ghanaian babies and toddlers are the absolutely CUTEST things I have ever seen in my life. They are so friendly and adorable, I can't wait to volunteer somewhere where I'll be surrounded by children.
The weather is so nice- originally it smelled just like Florida air, but today it definitely had a more distinct smell. It was hot today, but the air conditioning in our hotel rooms and the pool were effective in relieving us of the heat. Oh, and apparently there is no drinking age here (A.B, a CIEE U-Pal volunteer told me that children can purchase alcohol and the vendors will just assume its for their parents), so tonight a few other students and I tried the Star and Stone beer from the hotel bar (Star is lighter, and I think, better) but they were both very good. As far as food goes, I tried beans that they had for breakfast, which were baked bean style, but with a tomato sauce. I liked it a lot and actually probably preferred it to American baked beans. I also ate some fish last night, and my first bite resulted in about 10 broken fish bones in my mouth, which I was not expecting at all. Today I had the fish again, but I avoided the bones this time. Everyone here has been so friendly and welcoming, and everyone asks how you are doing and how you slept. It has been a great experience so far, and I'm looking forward to going on a scavenger hunt-type adventure in the town tomorrow, which is another part of orientation. I miss everyone so much and hope everyone is doing well.
I finally made it to Ghana! My flights were interesting; my second was much more spacious and comfortable than the first. I sat next to this wonderful and friendly Ghanaian woman on the second flight who was coming to Ghana to visit her 2 sons. She taught me a few phrases in Twi like how are you? Well (Ete sen? And awa) and Good night ( I forgot this one already). We had great conversations (which mostly consisted of me asking her tons of questions) and she gave me her phone number towards the end of the flight and told me to call her so that she can come visit me in Legon on her way to Medina, where her second home is. She also wanted to introduce me to both of her sons, who graduated from the University of Ghana.