Ghana | How My Experiences in Ghana are Preparing Me for Global Citizenship


Globalization was all the rage of the early 2000s, and it is still of major importance today. As our world becomes increasingly more connected, different cultures meet and merge, economies become highly interdependent, and access to the internet is expanded to even the most rural and restricted areas, the idea of global citizenship has taken on new importance. Understanding places, social systems, peoples, languages, and cultures other than your own is highly valuable and can be readily used in the work place as well as personal daily life. I believe that studying abroad is one of the best ways to adopt a global outlook and prepare yourself to be a global citizen, and so I thought that in this post I would share some of the key experiences I have had in Ghana that have prepared me for global citizenship. This post will be comprised of ten individual photos that each have a caption fulfilling the statement: “Studying abroad in Ghana has prepared me for global citizenship by…” Each photo was taken during my time in Ghana and corresponds directly to its caption! Enjoy!

Studying abroad in Ghana has prepared me for global citizenship by…

  1. Exposing me to new people, places, and ways of life and improving my intercultural communication skills (Pictured: Fisherman at Bojo Beach)

2. Helping me to understand different philosophies and perspectives outside of my native culture (Pictured: Adinkra symbols)

3. Developing my knowledge, appreciation, and value of other groups and regions of the world (Pictured: An African style building)

4. Giving me experience learning a new language and participating in other culturally immersive activities (Pictured: Flower at the University of Ghana International Programmes Building, where I am learning Twi)

5. Providing me with outstanding research opportunities (I am researching democratization in Ghana) (Pictured: The Independence Arch)

6. Increasing my awareness of historical injustices that have modern implications (Pictured: The Elmina Slave Castle).

7. Increasing my knowledge of how globalization has impacted Ghana and how globalization affects the international community (Pictured: Cocoa in Ghana)

8. Developing my capacity to think creatively and imaginatively about solutions to the challenges of globalization (Pictured: The art of kente)

9. Pushing me outside my comfort zone and developing my personal character (Pictured: Heights at the Kakum National Forest Canopy Walk)

10. Allowing me to reflect on my own position and involvement in the world as a global citizen (Pictured: A Cape Coast sunrise)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Transportation in Ghana


When I first arrived at Kotoka International Airport in Accra, I was picked up, along with some other UCEAP students, by one of the UC Study Center Staff, who we call Uncle Solomon. He helped us get our luggage into the UCEAP van and then drove us to our new dorms at the University of Ghana. This was my first experience of transportation in Ghana, and wow was it exciting! Upon exiting the airport, we were immediately immersed into a whole new world. Hawkers (people selling goods and food) swarmed the streets, walking in-between cars and passing their goods through car windows to local buyers. Young men stood at street corners selling fresh coconuts alongside women roasting plantains to eat with salty groundnuts (local peanuts). People were everywhere – walking, talking, selling, living. I had never seen anything like it.

Apart from all the people, I was also struck by the traffic in Ghana, which at first seemed incredibly chaotic and unorderly. Many intersections did not have proper stop signs or traffic signals, and when they did, they were often ignored. Cars cut in and out of each other without any hesitation, driving bumper to bumper, and car horns honked incessantly to notify each other of their passing. It seemed as if there were no rhyme to reason to the traffic patterns, and yet, we somehow made it to the University relatively smoothly.

This characteristic of Ghanaian driving is rather interesting. In the U.S., traffic seems to be much more orderly, and I would argue that in fact, it is. But in Ghana, although the way people drive seems at first sight to be absolutely nuts, it works. I did not once see a car accident during my time in Ghana, though I see these frequently in the U.S. I also did not often see individuals driving while using their phones – they were generally more focused on the task at hand than American drivers. However, this does not mean that transportation in Ghana is notably safe. Because vehicles are often in poor condition, because drivers take more risks, and because passengers often do not wear seatbelts, when there are accidents, they are often very bad. It is advisable to use a seatbelt whenever possible and to avoid travelling at night when roads may be poorly lit and drivers may be especially tired.

Public transportation in Ghana is also a beast. Public transportation includes tro-tros, shared taxis or cars, and large, longer distance, government operated buses. Tro-tros are the most common form of public transportation. They are minivans that can carry between 12 and 20 people at a time and are almost always operated by two men – a driver and a mate. The driver operates the vehicle while the mate calls out the direction of the vehicle and makes hand signals indicating the vehicle’s direction to collect new passengers alongside the road. The mate also handles payments, which are always in cash. Unlike in the U.S., where scheduled buses make their way around set routes and arrive at and depart from bus stops at pre-determined times, tro-tros in Ghana are unpredictable and irregular, though fairly constant. While they do not follow set schedules, they travel along set routes and are always operating and readily available for use. To ride a tro-tro, you simply walk to a tro-tro stop (or even just stand at the side of the road) and look for mates calling out or motioning the direction of your travel. If you are not sure what direction to look out for, it is helpful to ask a local who will be glad to help you get on the right tro-tro. Tro-tros and are often packed to the brim with passengers. They are generally very beat up, hot, loud, and lacking seatbelts. However, they are a cheap, efficient, and frankly amusing way to get around. Riding in tro-tros also provides opportunities to meet locals who you might sit next to. Learning a few phrases of Twi is especially useful for these instances as it immediately shows locals that you are making an effort to better understand and appreciate their culture.

All in all, getting around in Ghana can be quite the experience! At first, it can seem a bit confusing and overwhelming, but once you get used to it, it is actually great fun!



Complimentary Twi Lesson:

Fa benkum / nifa. (Take a left / right.)

Ko w’anim paa / tee. (Go forward a lot / a little.)

Mepakyew, gyina ha! (Please, stop here!)

Woreko* hene? (Where are you going?)

* Woreko is pronounced wo-ko; extend the o sound in place of re

Ne boo ye sidi edu. (The price is 10 cedis.)

Mepe se mefa tro-tro Tema. (I want to take a trotro to Tema.)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Academic Culture at the University of Ghana


When choosing where to study abroad, academic concerns are very important. While many students initially begin considering study abroad programs in order to travel, experience another culture, or have other sorts of experiential opportunities, they quickly realize that this is only possible if their chosen study abroad program can align with their academic needs and the requirements that they must fulfill in order to graduate. Unfortunately, comprehensive information on academics at perspective host institutions is sometimes difficult to find; some international institutions lack easy-to-navigate websites that would otherwise be used to find valuable information on academics. Thankfully, UCEAP has a wealth of information on academics at the University of Ghana, especially regarding courses, registration, and special study opportunities (research and internships). I will provide links to these resources at the end of this blog post. However, information on the academic culture at the University of Ghana is sometimes lacking in detail and accuracy. This blog post seeks to provide helpful information on this topic for students that are considering studying abroad in Ghana.

Academic Culture

The academic culture at the University of Ghana is very different than in the United States, at least in reference to the University of California. In some ways, the academic culture is more serious, and in other ways it is substantially less serious. This makes for quite an interesting and new dynamic for study abroad students!

Academic culture at the University of Ghana is more serious than at the University of California in that there is a certain added layer of formality to the way that classes operate and students interact with their professors. For example, most students dress nicely to their classes. It is rare, if not looked down upon, for a student to wear athletic or leisure-based clothing to class. Additionally, language between professors and individual students appears to be very formal; students may address professors as ‘Sir,’ and tend to approach authority figures very politely. Finally, finals at the University of Ghana are usually worth 70% of a student’s grade, and assessment is sometimes based on information broader than what has been taught in class. Students may be required to draw on information from supplementary texts and individual studies rather than solely on information provided by the professor, which is common in the UC.

However, academic culture at the University of Ghana is in many ways less serious than at the University of California. While finals may be heavily weighted and may require more individual studying to compile the appropriate information, it is also common for professors to distribute the questions to a final or give an outline of the topics that will be on a final a week or two in advance. This can make studying for an assessment extremely streamlined and simple. Additionally, from my personal experience and the experience of other students in my UCEAP program, the curriculum presented in University of Ghana classes is altogether less rigorous and comprehensive than the curriculum presented at the University of California. However, this may not be the case across the board for all disciplines or courses.

Professors and students at the University of Ghana also come across as less serious to University of California students because of their lax handling of time. This is a Ghanaian cultural feature that spills over into University operations. Professors and students alike are often, if not usually, late to or absent from class. It is common for students to request extensions for assignments and be granted these extensions. It is also common for professors to skip or disregard items on their syllabus due to their being absent from class. Finally, information is passed between professors and students rather informally – often by word of mouth through class group chats. It is imperative that international students make sure to be included in such chats and pay close attention for changes in readings, meeting times, locations, and assignments.

These differences make studying at the University of Ghana quite different than studying at the University of California. However, my experience was altogether a positive one! While some differences do take some adjusting to get used to, they are by no means insurmountable. Studying abroad in Ghana is a great experience and of extremely high value; I would certainly recommend it to anyone considering going!

Useful links

UCEAP University of Ghana Program Website:

UCEAP Ghana 2018-2019 Program Guide:

MyEAP Course Catalog (lists previous UG classes taken by UC students):

University of Ghana Course Descriptions:

Complimentary Twi Lesson:

Me w) asembisa. (I have a question.)

Deεn? (What?)

Da bεn? (What day?)

Bere bεn? (What time?)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Mole National Park


Our final program excursion of the year was to Mole National Park in the Savannah Region of Ghana. The Savannah Region of Ghana is in the north-western part of Ghana. It is most immediately south of the Upper West Region, and diagonally south of the North East and Upper East Regions. Mole National Park, the largest game reserve in Ghana, is a total area of 1,869 miles squared. It is home to great varieties of plant life and animal species and is especially well known for its many elephants and beautiful birds. Visitors can go to Mole for day trips to hike and observe wildlife, or they can stay at one of the local lodging options for a longer safari-type experience.

Our group was lucky enough to stay at Zania Lodge, the first luxury safari lodge in West Africa. Zania Lodge is situated on the ridge of a long hill, overlooking the savannah below. Two large watering holes can be seen from the property where elephants, antelope, and other wildlife can be easily observed. This outstanding view can be enjoyed from each individual chalet as well as from the main lodge, where there are patios, nice places to sit, and a beautiful infinity pool. During our few days at Mole, we spent much of our time floating in the pool looking out over the savannah. We were also lucky enough to enjoy multiple colorful sunsets from this wonderful vantage point!

Of course, the primary attraction of the lodge was its guided safari tours. The lodge offered three varieties of such: daytime walking tours, daytime driving tours, and nighttime driving tours. Each tour was about two hours to two and a half hours and included two trained guides. I chose to go on one daytime walking tour and two daytime driving tours – unfortunately the nighttime driving tour was an extra cost for our group.

Each tour had its own unique features. Because they were on foot, the daytime walking tours did not see quite as many animals as the driving tours, but it was fun and adventurous to walk through the bush and at least attempt to track animals. While hiking, we had the opportunity to see some unique things – including elephant bones, awesome anthills, and huge elephant footprints.

The driving tours provided the opportunity to see animals with greater frequency – elephants, antelope, warthogs, monkeys, alligators, birds, and more. The morning driving tour also had another awesome perk – a coffee break! The guides took us to a little platform that had been built overlooking a pond, and there we enjoyed freshly roasted coffee and tea biscuits. This was especially nice and unexpected because fresh coffee in Ghana is so rare (powdered stir-in coffee is more common) – it was a real treat!

All in all, the trip to Mole National Park was an outstanding introduction to a new area of Ghana. It provided an entirely different landscape to that of the coast and offered us great opportunities for experiencing African wildlife. I will not forget it!

Complimentary Twi Lesson:

Hye (To wear)

Mpaboa (Shoes)

Kasa (Shirt)

Duku (Scarf)

Ahuhuro de me (I am hot)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Tips for Staying Healthy and Maximizing Your Experience Abroad!


In the statement of purpose that I submitted to UCEAP before coming to study abroad at the University of Ghana, I wrote, “As I understand it, studying abroad is a wholly exciting and immersive experience, a commitment of oneself to engage with all that is around them and to pour into the culture and people of their chosen country. While studying abroad, living and learning are fully integrated, inseparable functions.” Having completed over two months in Ghana, I now know that this hypothesis is correct, and I am working each day to fulfill the great potential that my study abroad experience has. Specifically, I have been using certain strategies to help me prevent avoidable problems, relieve stress and remain resilient, and integrate myself into the Ghanaian culture. In this blog post, I will be sharing some of these strategies – I hope you find them helpful!

Strategies to Prevent Avoidable Problems:

  1. Eat a healthy diet.

While it may seem simple, this one thing can make a huge difference in your day to day wellbeing, and is important not just to your physical health, but also your mental health. Eating well gives you energy, helps you to feel good about yourself, and allows you to be productive and well-focused in other areas in your life, such as academics. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, take time to shop, plan meals, thoughtfully prepare food, and eat with others!

  1. Sleep well.

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep, during the same period of each night, is fundamental to maintaining a positive attitude and preparing yourself for each day. It’s not always possible but certainly worth a shot!

  1. Stay on top of your work.
  2. Plan ahead.

When you stay on top of your work, you are able to avoid the unnecessary stress caused by procrastination and develop a cushion for unexpected events that require your time. When you plan ahead, this sort of time-management only becomes easier.

Strategies to Relieve Stress and Remain Resilient:

  1. Exercise.

The University of Ghana gym is very small, but is an option for exercise, as well as other activities such as running and yoga. These activities give you time to clear your head, help you to let out unwanted tension, and improve your mood, appetite, and self-esteem. Additionally, setting goals in these activities gives you something to work towards and is enjoyable as you see yourself make progress and accomplish new things.

  1. Make your room an enjoyable and relaxing place.

Clean and organize your room well. When you walk in, you should not have to look at a bunch of misplaced things. You can just go in, sit down, take a breath, and have an environment immediately conducive for relaxing and/or studying.

  1. View your time as a learning experience.

At times, you will be faced with challenges that you have never encountered before. Know that these challenges are opportunities to learn and to grow! A positive outlook will help you to mitigate your stress as you take on challenges with an open mind and remember to view difficulties in the context of learning.

Strategies to Integrate into the Ghanaian Culture:

  1. Learn the local language.
  2. Make a point to regularly talk to and interact with Ghanaians.

Before I came here, I did not intend on taking a Twi class, but I have realized that not only is this fun, it helps me to feel more comfortable during my stay. Learning Twi is an excellent opportunity to actively participate in the culture, rather than just observe it. In a similar way, interacting with Ghanaians, especially students, gives you more opportunities to participate in the University of Ghana community and learn from the people who live here.

All of these strategies have been useful in ensuring that my study abroad experience is the best that it can be. I hope some can help you as well!


Complimentary Twi Lesson!:

Aduane a mepε paa ne _____! (The food which I like best is _____!)

Atosodeε (vegetable)

Dauba (fruit)

Nsuo (water)

εkom dε me. (I am hungry.)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Volta Hall and Living at the University of Ghana


Living at the University of Ghana is quite an adventure! Every day brings something new and exciting. In this post, I will talk about the different living options available to UCEAP students, and in particular, my experience living at Volta Hall.

When you apply to study abroad in Ghana, you will be able to list your living preferences. Depending on your gender, you will be able to choose from either two or three options. Men can choose either Legon Hall, a co-ed dorm, or the International Students Hostel (ISH), a dorm for (mostly) international students. Women can choose either of these options or they can choose Volta Hall, an all-women’s hall. The most relevant differences between these options are as follows:

  1. Legon Hall and Volta Hall are right in the center of campus; ISH is on the outskirts of campus;
  2. Legon Hall and Volta Hall sometimes lose running water, but water retrieved from tanks with buckets (which is the same as the tap water) is always available; ISH rarely ever loses running water.
  3. There is more opportunity for interaction with Ghanaian students at Volta Hall and Legon Hall; there is more opportunity for interaction with international students at ISH.

All halls have their own small stores, places to eat, laundry services, and seamstresses (I would definitely recommend getting some clothes made; it’s a fun experience!). All halls are also monitored 24/7 by ‘porters,’ who essentially guard the main entrances to the halls, especially during the night hours, and are available to help students and answer their questions. Additional information on housing is available at:

While one does rank their housing preferences, they may be placed elsewhere. I was placed in my first choice, Volta Hall, but some of my fellow classmates were not. It is also common to be told that you will be staying in one place, but then be moved to another place upon your arrival. Flexibility is very important in Ghana!

My experience at Volta Hall has been a positive one. The hall itself is very nice; when one first walks in they are greeted by a beautiful fountain and well-maintained landscaping – including really cool flowering trees, grass, pot plants, flower beds, and stone walkways. It is like a little oasis – when I walk in after a long class, I can just take a deep breath and relax. The rooms are also very nice. My room is actually comprised of two rooms, an inner room and an outer room. Each has its own bed and desk, and the outer room also has a sink. Outside of the room is a large wrap-around patio that connects all of the rooms – this is especially useful for washing one’s clothes and doing things like yoga.

There is a bathroom with two showers and one toilet on each floor; this is more than enough for everyone to share. While running water can be an issue, bucket showers are actually very refreshing, and not too much of an inconvenience. There is also a kitchen on the ground floor (the building is two-storied) with a fridge and two hot plates for cooking. While my roommate and I use the fridge, we bought our own hotplate and cooking supplies to do most of our cooking in our room. We are a bit of an exception; most students buy ready-made food, but we cook almost all of our meals. I have found this really enjoyable and a good way to stay healthy and use up free time!

Another way to stay busy is to participate in hall activities. Each hall has intermural sports; these include swimming, rugby, basketball, volleyball, cricket, and chess. Swimming is especially popular with international students, and one does not have to have any experience to join! Each hall also has a ‘hall week,’ where they put on events such as concerts and have vendors who sell food, jewelry, clothes, and other goods throughout the week. Many students enjoy visiting each different hall during its week to participate in the activities it offers.

All in all, living at the University of Ghana is a wonderful experience. Some final notes:

  1. There is a very small gym on campus; it is very close to ISH. Many students also elect to run, swim, or pick up some other physical activity during their time in Ghana.
  2. Food is available at every hall, as well as Bush Canteen and Night Market, which are two larger locations on campus to get food and groceries. A decently sized Ghanaian meal can be purchased for less than 2 USD. People selling fruit, snacks, and coconuts are also easy to find around.
  3. Rooms are not air-conditioned but do have fans. They are generally very hot but cooler than being outdoors!
  4. The WiFi is generally awful; it works best when there are less people on campus (e.g. before school starts) or when most people are asleep (e.g. 3am). Most international students purchase their own portable WiFi devices. Unlimited data costs about 30$/month if the cost is split with a roommate.

I hope this post is helpful! Check out this link for an old but still helpful video of housing at UG!:


Complimentary Twi Lesson!:

Wote hene? (Where do you live?)

Mete Volta. (I live at Volta)

Mepε se mekɔ me fie. (I want to go to my house. Literally, I want that I go to my house.)

Yεn kɔ! (Let’s go!)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Ghanaian Culture: A Collection of Useful Pointers!


When going abroad, one will most likely find themselves unaware of certain social customs that are unique to their host country, or that do not exist in their home country/ the United States. Certain patterns of speech, hand gestures, and actions can catch visitors off-guard and leave them amused, confused, or maybe even frustrated. In Ghana, I have certainly come across situations where I am not sure how I should respond to someone or what reaction I should have towards something they have done. In this blog, I would like to share a few of these situations as well as some other things that are useful to keep in mind, so that others can be prepared if they ever encounter a similar circumstance!

Common Phrases and Their Meanings/ Appropriate Responses:

– “Am I invited?” – Once, some new Ghanaian friends came to my room to say hi. At the time, I was eating dinner, and one of them asked me, “Am I invited?” I did not know how to respond – I was not expecting them to stop by and I did not have any food prepared for them. What I have now realized is that this is considered a polite gesture, and no one actually expects to be invited over. A polite response is to the question is, “You are invited.” Alternatively, one can sidestep the question a little and offer the person something else, such as a sachet of water. [Below: Some Ghanaian meals!]

– “Can I have it” or “You can have it” – While visiting her department to register for classes, my roommate was asked by an administrator in the office, “I like your earrings, can I have one?” She was completely thrown off and did not know how to respond. On another occasion, when telling someone we liked their dress, we were responded to with, “You can have it!” Again, we were surprised and not sure how to respond. Turns out, these comments should not be taken literally. Rather, they are just polite sayings that indicate a compliment (“Can I have it?”) or kindness (“You can have it”).

– “Will you marry me/ Will you be my bride?” – If you are a woman in Ghana, be prepared for regular marriage proposals. Sometimes, the individual is seriously looking for a relationship with the intention of marriage. Other times, this is a less serious comment, but the individual is still interested in some sort of romantic relationship. Good responses to such questions include: “I have a boyfriend, ” (even if you don’t), and “Sorry, but I am not interested.”

– “What is your number?” – Many, many people will ask for your number. I once was even asked for my number during a morning run – the individual proceeded to run alongside me, introduce himself, and ask for my number. The best way to deal with this is to just let the individual know that you do not give out your number. It may be necessary to take their number just to be polite.

– “I am coming.” – Ghanaians will say “I am coming” as they are leaving or walking away from you. This actually means that they are going, and that they will come back later.

– “I will flash you” – “Flashing” is the act of calling someone and then immediately hanging up, with the intention of getting that person to call you back. With the Ghanaian phone system, the one who initiates the call, pays for the call. Thus, people will “flash” each other to avoid using their phone credits.

Hand Signals and Body Language:

– The placement of the back of one palm on top of the inside of the other palm means “I beg,” or “please,” and is usually accompanied with such a phrase or the Twi equivalent.

– Always shake hands and greet groups from right to left, or counterclockwise.

– Receiving items, giving items, or gesturing with your left hand is considered rude. For example, in class, you must always raise your right hand to ask a question. Raising the left hand is a sign of disrespect to the lecturer. [Below: Feeding monkeys bananas with our right hands – coincidence? I think not]

Other Things to Keep in Mind:

– “Time is time.” This is a phrase used in Ghana which is well juxtaposed to the American phrase, “Time is money.” This outlook on the nature of time and the laxness around meeting with others and getting things done can come across as rude and be frustrating if one is not used to it. Just remember, time is time, and patience is key.

– Ghanaians (especially vendors at markets) will make what resembles a kissing noise to get your attention. This is not, I repeat, this is not, a catcall.

– Restaurants often do not have menu items available and can take a very long time to prepare food. My friend once had to order five different items! It is useful to ask if any menu items are not available before setting your mind on something only to find out it is not available. It is also useful to go out to eat before you are actually hungry, so that by the time you get your food, you are hungry.

– Lastly, appreciate cultural differences! If you travel to Ghana, or anywhere in the world, learn to enjoy those things that are new and surprising! Experience the culture, engage with it, and take the best of it home with you! Why not?



Complimentary Twi Lesson!:

Mesua Twi daa/ pii (I study Twi everyday/ a lot!)

Mekasa Twi (I speak Twi)

Wokasa Twi? (Do you speak Twi?)

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Manhyia Palace, Adanwomase Village, and Ntonso


Another weekend trip coordinated by our UCEAP staff was to Kumasi, which is the capital of the Ashanti Region in Ghana. While there, we visited the Manhyia Palace, Adanwomase Village, and Ntonso. We also went shopping at a local art market, went swimming at Lake Bosomtwe, and had some awesome group meals. Below, check out some descriptions and cool pictures of our adventures!

The Manhyia Palace:

The Manhyia Palace is the seat and residence of the Asantehene, the traditional ruler, or king, of the Ashanti Kingdom and the Ashanti Region. We visited the Manhyia Palace Museum, which has been converted from the original palace and is directly adjacent to today’s Manhyia Palace, where the current Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, lives.

Visiting the palace was very interesting, as we were able to learn about the traditional systems of power in Ghana. The trip was also relevant to one of the classes I am taking while studying abroad: Issues in Africa’s International Relations. Just last week, my professor spent a portion of the class discussing how traditional and modern political systems in Africa interact, and how their relationships are largely a result of the European scramble for Africa and colonization. All over Africa, there are systems of power layered over one another – systems that existed before colonization, based largely around ethnicity and historical power – and systems that came to be as a result of colonization – those determined, sometimes arbitrarily, by European powers as they divided and occupied Africa amongst themselves. These overlapping systems constantly wrestle with one another, and this has many implications for African nations. For example, while the sovereignty of African states is recognized externally, it may not be recognized internally (by the people living within it). This can lead to a variety of issues, such as irredentism, low resource mobilization, ethnic armies, and dependency on external governments. All in all, visiting the palace was a great way to engage with my academic learning on an experiential level – something that I have really enjoyed about studying abroad.

Adanwomase Village and Ntonso:

Adanwomase Village is a small village near Kumasi where kente cloth, a type of fabric made of interwoven thread, is made. Kente is native to the Akan ethnic group of Ghana, and it is very important in the local culture. Many of the various patterns that can be seen in kente cloth, as well as the colors of the threads themselves, have symbolic meaning. The cloth was traditionally worn only by kings, but today its use is more widespread. At Adanwomase village, our group watched locals weave kente cloth, and we even got to try our own hand at the craft!

After learning about kente, we drove to a nearby town – Ntonso – where we learned about adinkra. Adinkra are symbols, each with a distinct meaning, that encapsulate messages, or proverbs, concerning traditional wisdom and aspects of life. The symbols are often carved onto furniture and into buildings, painted on pottery, and stamped onto fabric to be worn or decorated with. In Ntonso, we each picked out adinkra symbols that resonated with us, and then stamped them onto pieces of kente cloth, making our very own pieces of art. This was a great way to learn about some of the philosophies and perspectives of people living in Ghana, and allowed us to understand the culture a little bit more.

All in all, the weekend was great fun! I can’t wait for what’s next!



Complimentary Twi Lesson!:

Wo ho te sεn / εte sεn? – How are you? (Literally: How is your body?)

Me ho yε / εyε – I am good (Literally: My body is fine)

Yɛfrɛ wo sɛn / Me din de sɛn? – What is your name?

Yɛfrɛ me … / Me din de … – My name is …

Ashley Young studied abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2018:

Ghana | Outside Accra: The Central Region and Cape Coast Excursions

By Ashley Young

After two weeks of living in Accra, learning about Ghanaian culture and society, and finally (finally!) adjusting our melanin cycles to the African sun, it was time to leave the Greater Accra Region and travel to the Central Region. The Central Region is situated on the coast, much like Accra, but due West of the University of Ghana by a few hours. The capital of the Central Region is Cape Coast, and near it is a town called Elmina. This is where we (the UCEAP students and staff) made our stay for the weekend.

Note: This trip was coordinated by our UC Study Center staff! I did not realize this when I chose to come to Ghana, but UCEAP includes many trips, meals, overnight stays, and excursions in the University of Ghana program! I’m not sure to what extent other programs or locations do this, but it is certainly worth looking into if you are considering studying abroad in Ghana or another country through UCEAP.

When we first arrived in Elmina, our staff took us to Elmina Slave Castle. The Elmina Slave Castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482 and was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea. Currently, it is the oldest standing European building south of the Sahara. While the castle was originally established as a trade settlement, it evolved into one of the largest stops in what is now referred to as the Triangular Trade, in which Europeans brought finished goods to Africa, traded for human slaves which they brought to the New World, and then produced raw goods in the New World which they exported to Europe. Elmina castle belonged to the Portuguese from 1482 to 1637, the Dutch from 1637 to 1872 (the slave trade ended during this time period, in 1814), the British from 1872 to 1957, and finally, Ghana, from 1957 to present.

While the pictures I have posted of the castle may seem beautiful, it is anything but. The horrors that occurred within its walls and as part of the larger Trans-Atlantic slave trade are truly awful. While visiting the castle was not a pleasant experience, it served as an important part of the UCEAP University of Ghana study abroad program and helped us to understand the past and current marginalization and exploitation of Africa by other nations.

Though our first day in the Central Region was somber, the next day was packed with fun and exciting activities! First, we took a beautiful drive to the Kakum Rainforest Reserve, which is part of Kakum National Park. There, we did a short hike and a canopy walk, where we moved through the trees on a series of long, tall, suspended bridges! Some of my classmates would describe the experience as daunting and risky; others would describe it as beautiful and totally awesome! Personally, I think that it was a good dose of both of these things, and I would certainly recommend the experience to others.

After our rainforest adventure, we headed back to Elmina and the Coconut Grove Beach Resort, where we were staying. There, we rode horses, had lunch and dinner at the resort restaurant, and swam in both the seaside pool and the ocean itself. The following morning, a few of us got up early to watch the sun rise over the waves. For me, this was truly the highlight of our trip. The way that the light fingered the clouds, the beautiful and serene pink and orange hues, the shimmering reflection of the sun on the waves, and the sound of birds awakening in the trees – it was a wonderful experience, and a peaceful way to reflect on our time in Ghana thus far.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post! The next post will be about another weekend trip coordinated by UCEAP to the Ashanti Region, so stay tuned!


Complimentary Twi Lesson!: In every blog post from here on out, I will be sharing some words, phrases, or sentences that I have learned for conversational Twi! This post’s words are:

Maakye! (Good Morning!)

Maaha! (Good Afternoon!)

Maadwo! (Good Evening!)

Ghana | First Impressions of Ghana

By Ashley Young

              Akwaaba! Welcome! It is the end of my first week in Ghana, and WOW it has been an adventure! Since arriving, I have been taking part in the UCEAP Ghana Orientation Class, a class that introduces students to the culture, history, economy, and politics of Ghana. Our UCEAP program staff, two Ghanaian student assistants, and a handful of professors from the University of Ghana, have been leading us through this practical and experiential course, which is a mixture of lectures, field trips, and personal interactions with the Ghanaian culture and people. Thus far, we have toured the University campus, acquainted ourselves with its surrounding neighborhoods, tasted many new foods, learned about Ghanaian culture, including the importance of dance and music, and explored the historical, social, and political contexts of the country we are living in.
              While I have only been here one week, it is clear that studying in Ghana will be an eye-opening experience. One thought that has captured my attention so far is the fact that Ghana, and Africa as a whole, does not lack resources. Before I came here, I was of the opinion that Africa was without: without the basic materials and items needed to sustain a flourishing continent. My first impression of Ghana confirmed this opinion – from the impoverished street hawkers, who walk between cars at intersections selling goods like plantain chips, laundry soap, water, and eggs, to open sewage systems on the sides of roads, to begging children who follow and hold on to you as you walk to your destination, to the inconsistent flow of running water in the University dorms – all of these sights seemed to confirm that Ghana lacks the important resources needed to serve its people.
              But this is not the case. AFRICA DOES NOT LACK RESOURCES. Ghana, in particular, is rich in fertile land for agriculture and cattle rearing, gold, diamonds, bauxite, timber, and even oil. Alack of resources is not the issue. The issue is access, and the efficient assemblage of resources to most benefit the country. One example of this issue was discussed in the orientation class: Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (the country neighboring Ghana to the West) produce between them 60% of the cocoa in the world market. However, they only make 5.7% of the market profit share. This is an extreme inequity, and unfortunately, not an anomaly in Ghana or the greater African continent.While at times, it has been difficult to be a personal witness to so many political and economic development issues, the Ghanaian culture is rich and there is much beauty to be found!Below, I have attached some photos of the places we have gone:
              All of these excursions have been facilitated by our UCEAP Program staff – Auntie Rose, Auntie Sharon, and Auntie Dorcas – as well as two Ghanaian students – Araba and JoJo. We call our staff our Aunties because in Ghanaian culture, the family extends far beyond the nuclear family that we generally acknowledge in the United States, and individuals call those older than themselves either “Auntie” or “Uncle” to show respect and/or signify a relationship. Additionally, the student assistants, Araba and JoJo, have received their names based on the day of the week they were born on. This is a traditional Ghanaian practice – Ghanaians believe that each day has a spirit associated with it, and that this plays into the character of the individual.
              In fact, the integration of traditional Ghanaian culture into the more modern Ghanaian society is quite interesting! There are many practices and customs alive in Accra that I have never heard of before, many revolving around important milestones in life such as birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Already, we have been invited to both a traditional Ghanaian wedding and a naming ceremony for a new baby; I am sure I will get to experience many new traditional customs at these events!
There are many practices and customs alive iI am excited to learn more about Ghana, and excited to share it with you as I go along. Enjoy reading!
Ekua (MyGhanaian name!)