Ghana has seriously forced me to breach all of my personal and professional comfort levels. Since I’ve arrived, I have been confronting my irrational fear of insects such as spiders and roaches. I’ve learned that I can withstand temperatures greater than my internal body temperature for hours at a time. I’ve begun to learn how to live communally and cooperatively. And I’ve begun to learn how to communicate cross-culturally on the professional, personal and academic level. Each experience is uniquely challenging to me. Since I have spent a very considerable amount of time planning and academically, socially and personally preparing for this experience, I feel confident that the challenges I face will further my personal and professional growth.
This mainstream culture and society is not one full of luxuries, nor is it a culture of consumerism. For the most, people do not take the “every day” things for granted such as: flushing toilets, potable water, roads, the internet, television, natural and healthy food, and other technologies. It is not that Ghana is lacking but that Ghana is different. I have consciously chosen not to compare or make the connection that one world is developed while the other developing. There is no such connection; such a connection is a myth, a fable, a social and cultural construction. Ghanaians have their own culture, their own professionalism, and their own lifestyles, just as in America, though we may not even understand that we are, indeed, not “normal.”
Perhaps the only effective way to understand culture is to live within another culture. Only then will you be able to step back to see that you are part of a culture like everyone else. Concepts of culture in America are often tainted and misrepresented. I am not referring to Culture, with a capital “C” but culture, something naturalized, indiscernible and often times invisible. In fact, there is such regional culture within the US as well. In particular, it is the regional cultures that I miss the most.