Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I've handed in my Study Abroad application today. The program is just about a month in Ghana, studying Public Health Policy through the Biology department. We'll be spending a good deal of time in the capital city of Accra, but with excursions along the coast and into the Ghanaian rain forest. We'll be visiting a revered primate sanctuary with native religious importance, and maybe, just maybe, I'll get to play with a monkey. Cape Coast Castle is on the list, and I can only imagine that setting foot there will evoke similar feelings to setting foot in a Buchenwald or Auschwitz. Hopefully, we'll take a ride out to the Volta, one of Africa's most magnificent and powerful rivers, if one places aside the mighty Nile...which is really hard to do if your name doesn't start with "M" and end in "oses."

Why Ghana? Well, originally, I was supposed to be headed to Mother Russia over the summer break, with the intention of studying Russian politics and society at Moscow State University. I had begun taking Russian and delving into Russian Politics. About a month ago, my course took a turn. I spotted a flier at the Science building advertising this brand-new Ghana program, and decided to completely change my plans.

I'm an International Relations major with a focus on the Developing World, and Africa has sort of become my regional focus. In that sense, I'm looking forward to finally arriving on the continent I've read and written so much about. It makes much more sense for someone with my interests to be headed to West Africa instead of Eurasia, but Moscow remains the back-up plan.

Aside from academic reasons, I want culture shock. I really want culture shock. I want to go to a place so far removed from the Western world I've known all my life that I might get there and immediately soil myself. I want to go to a place that I'll need seven shots before I go because there exists illnesses to which I have no antibodies. I want traffic without signal lights, food I've never seen before, beer I've never tasted before, and languages I'll never hear spoken anywhere else. I want to experience a culture so incredibly different from my own that I will return Stateside with an entirely different perspective on American life. Plus, I want one hell of a rockin' tan.

I look forward to embracing the shock of it all. My paperwork is in, and my blog is good to go. Updates will be pretty sporadic until Summer 2010 draws nearer.