By: Razma Hazarat, Simon Fraser University, winner of the spring 2019 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Accra, Ghana
There were various means to prepare for and adapt to a new and challenging situation. I have never travelled on my own before, and if I ever did travel it was just a 2-hour flight California. Moving across the globe to a different continent was personally challenging and, initially, very lonely. However, having a supportive network who encouraged me to stay positive and optimistic was important.
“Protect your peace, cultivate love.” After living in ghana for 5 months, I can finally say those words and feel it. I’ve made friends from all over the world and learned self-love in various different cultures. One day I had a Ghanaian friend come in my room and sing me soothing songs while brushing my hair because I was feeling homesick. Another day, my Ghanaian friend could tell I needed to get out so she took me behind campus and we went “mango clogging.” Essentially, you would find a mango (usually rotten/bruised) on the ground and then throw at the tree and try to aim for a nice fresh and healthy one further up top, and later we would eat the mangoes and just spill out our feelings. It’s these little things they notice and will not let you struggle on your own, we really are all in this together.
Speaking of being “all in this together” (sorry for the Highschool Musical quote, I had to), in my first few weeks I had a very bad fever that kept me stuck in my bed for days. But what was so beautiful was that I had 5 different people come and knock on my door to see how I was doing because they haven't seen me around campus in a while. A few went to the market and got me delicious fresh fruits, another had no idea what electrolytes were so they got me apple juice instead (it’s the thought that counts, and oh so much love and care) and another went to the pharmacy and bought me medications. And each person refused my money when I tried to pay them back. This is Ghana. This is collectivism. Blood or not, this is family.
This semester abroad was not only an opportunity for academic growth, but also personal growth, and I can't thank my friends enough for showing me how to love and feel loved.