My name is Jeremy Ginsburg. I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I go to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I went to Ghana because I wanted to get a unique abroad experience and there was a program offered through my University that went to Ghana. The opportunity came about when I was working on campus with a student organization that did fundraising for an orphanage in Ghana. My friend, who got me involved, had been to Ghana a few times and told me about how great it was. I did some research, and all the content I read online spoke of Ghana so highly. I read a few blog posts about girls falling in love with the country and how they want to move back there and live in Ghana as soon as they graduate. When I read that, I knew I had to go! My family thought I was crazy, but they showed great love and support.
When I arrived in Ghana, it wasn’t as different as I expected. I settled in pretty well. I didn’t have that much culture shock. (I had more culture shock when I returned to the US.) I remember being HOT ALL THE TIME. The hardest adjustment was definitely the heat and the bugs. I remember not being able to sleep in the middle of the night because I was so sweaty and I was just itching all over my body underneath my mosquito net. I wasn’t used to all the new foods, but I wanted to taste them all! My favorite local dishes were fufu and ground nut soup. I didn’t expect Ghana to be so Westernized. On my second day, I went to the Accra Mall. I remember thinking, “Wow . . . am I really in Africa right now?!”
I lived in the International Student Hostel on campus during my stay, and had a very nice Ghanaian roommate. The experience of living in a society outside my own was phenomenal. I made a lot of great friends. I still keep in touch with many of them! Some of my friends in Ghana made me rethink my friendships back home because they seemed to be so much more meaningful.
My most memorable experience was probably when I made my Azonto video. I was at Medina market dancing Azonto, and a crowd of thirty to fifty people were all watching and cheering. For the rest of the day, as I walked around the market everyone was yelling “Azonto Boy!” at me. Hiplife and Azonto music are still my favorite kind of music!
I love learning new languages. While I was there, I learned a decent amount of Twi, so that was great. And, my Pidgin is proficient. So, towards the end the language barrier wasn’t much of a problem. It was difficult sometimes when I traveled to non-Twi speaking regions, though. From my experience, I learned to appreciate what I have and to be happy no matter the circumstances. I learned to greet people and be respectful to anyone you come in contact with. I learned that people are meant to help others. I also learned that germs are overrated! My perceptions have changed a lot. I no longer complain about little mundane things that happen here. I’m thankful for having running water, toilet paper, and electricity. I’ve also learned that most people generalize Africa in a way that makes every country in Africa seem like it is the same. I came back and everyone was asking: “How was Africa?!” “What is it like in Africa?!” “What do they eat in Africa?!” I was a victim myself, but most people don’t realize that generalizing one country and referring to it as Africa is very misleading. No one goes to China and says, “Wow! In Asia. . .” You would never ask your friend who went surfing on the coast of California, “What are the waves like in the Pacific Ocean?” I can honestly say I have changed for the better, and it is noticeable. I’ve made so many more friends, I’ve become more popular, I’ve become nicer, more patient, and overall a happier being. I truly believe America would be a significantly better country if more people experience Ghana the way I did.