“I Blog so hard I gotta broke clock”

Dear family and friends, I don’t want this fun to end.

 

SO much has happened in this past week. I feel so lucky to be able to experience such amazing things each and every day. I hope it doesn’t end! My group is filled with wonderful people with great hearts and I’m enjoying getting to know all of them. My U-Pals (Ghanaian volunteers) are incredible, too. One of them, Achu aka sneeze name, is my next door neighbor, and is majoring in Dance. His dancing and rhythmic skills are ridiculous, but his personality and attitude is even more impressive. I’ve known him under 2 weeks, but he has already managed to motivate me in many ways. He is truly inspiring, and I’m excited to live next to him all year. He has scheduled two dance sessions where he is teaching a bunch of us an African Dance. It’s super fun to learn, even though most of us feel like idiots trying to do these moves.  It’s quite the work out! Imagine African Zumba….but done in a Hot Yoga room!!! I’m sure you don’t want to imagine the odor it generates. After our 2nd rehearsal, some of his friends/colleagues came and performed. They were a trio of two drummers and a floutest/recorder. The band was really good. They played some Charlie Parker cover and were rockin out. The most impressive part was when the guy was playing the flute out of his nose!!! He was hitting notes, too and it sounded good! I could NOT believe that!! He must’ve had to practice that a lot….then he took it out of his nose and stuck it right into his mouth and went on. Kinda gross, but hey…it’s AFRICA!

 

Yesterday our group went on a tour of Accra. We drove for most of it, and it was very cool to see the city. We went to Kwame Nkamu’s grave (the first president of Ghana), which was cool. There we saw a bunch of little school children that were so cute. They kept running up to us and wanting to slap high fives and saying “Hello Obruni!” which means “white person/foreigner”. It’s the equivalent to “Gringo” in Spanish. The kids were so cute and funny. Some of the kids we run into act all excited but then ask you for money. So, now, whenever I run into little children I’ve started asking THEM for money before they ask me. It’s a fun game to play.

We also passed by the poorest area in Accra. Hearing about their living conditions really put things into perspective. Some houses are as small as one room and can be the home for 8 people or even more. They use public bathrooms, and the lines to use them each morning can be up to 40 people long! I saw a man in a towel going to or from the bathroom walking across the street in the middle of the day amidst people. It’s crazy.

 

Ghana is 2-0 in the African Cup! Watching the games here is CRAZY. It reminds me of Badger Football games. Some of the cheers are quite funny. “GO AWAY (clap clap clap -Clap) GO AWAY!” When Ghana scores a goal, EVERYONE goes crazy and jumps up and down for about 10 minutes. No joke. 10 minutes. The bar that I’m at played music after their goal and everyone started dancing in celebration. I was sitting next to a Ghanaian girl, a friend of mine, and every time other team started advanced the ball far enough that you could even see the Ghana goalie she would scream at the top of her lungs as if she was giving birth to triplets. My ears didn’t appreciate it. After the game vs. Botwana (I think) Ghana won, I was ready to party and celebrate, but apparently Ghana was the big favorites and everyone was bummed they didn’t win by more goals.

 

 

Everyone here is so friendly. Just on a simple walk, you can meet 4 or 5 people that say hello and want to chat and hear about your story and why you are in Ghana. In America, if you make eye contact with someone for more than a second, I feel like you normally walk past each other. Sometimes you might think the other person was staring you down or giving you a dirty look. Here, if you make eye contact, most of the time they’ll say hello or ask how you are doing. It’s funny being referred to as “Obama’s people”.

 

I played basketball with the Ghanaians the other day. It was real fun. They weren’t playing full court though. It was half court 3 on 3, games to 3. Losers begin with the ball, and the team that calls “next” and plays the winner has to ref. As soon as I played I heard some of them yelling “Oh! Obruni good passer! Obruni dribble nice!”. It was semi-competitive. On Sundays the players from the team come and play, and sometimes players from the National team show up as well. Not sure if I’ll be able to get in that pick up game but I definitely want to watch. It’s crazy to me that the Varsity team here practices on an outdoor court in the open with people everywhere. I asked someone about trying out for the team or coaching and they said they don’t have “tryouts”. Here, the varsity coaches recruit players by watching the games between halls, and if they think you are good enough they’ll ask you to play. It’s basically as if Coach K from Duke were to choose his team based on intramural games. The basketball team was chosen first semester, but I really want to talk to the coach and see if I can help out by coaching.

 

Oh yeah, last week the water went out for a day or so. It actually went out while I was showering. I was only about half way done, but I guess someone else decided it was time to wrap it up! Then, the next day I took my first bucket bath! It wasn’t that bad. I still felt a little dirty afterwards, but I knew I was going to get sweaty in the next hour anyways so I didn’t mind. It actually was quite relaxing. I felt good about myself for conserving water, and I felt it made up for brushing my teeth with the faucet on growing up! haha.

 

I briefly met my roommate. He moved in some of his stuff but then left for the weekend. He’s Ghanaian, and he said he lives about an hour away. His name is Michael. He seems pretty shy, but we’ll see. He is very neat, hopefully he cleans up my stuff, haha. I don’t want to jump to conclusions but he has striped pink cheats and a pink pillow with a large heart on it….haha not sure what to make of that! J

 

 

Yesterday it was laundry day! No one has laundry machines here, and even if they can afford it and buy them, the electricity isn’t sufficient enough to use them….so I had to get my hands dirty to get my CLOTHES CLEAN! With the help of my Ghanaian friend, Hannah (what an ANGEL!), I learned how to hand wash my clothes. Man did I suck at that! I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t squeeze all of the water out. Had I done it by myself, my laundry probably would have taken 4-5 hours and my clothes would have been 50-70% clean. But, with Hannah’s help, we got through it in an hour and half-ish and now I’m waiting for my clothes to dry. I could never be Amish, that’s for sure! Hand washing your laundry was the only thing here that made me think “I could never get use to this”. Bucket showers, loss of electricity and water, eating with your hands, I could live the rest of my life with that. But….hand washing my clothes….I donno!!! So in my African dreams of living here forever, I guess I’ll have to find a wife who doesn’t mind doing my laundry! haha.

 

Ghanaian men are VERY persistent. AKA….CREEPY! I’ve had to save some of the girls on my trip a few times from some locals that demand numbers. This how the typical conversation  goes: question 1) “Hey Obruni! What’s your name” 2)what’s your number? 3)where do you live? some of the American girls aren’t quite use to that.  The white girls on my trip get proposed to once in a while. Once I get my confidence up, I plan on proposing to strangers that I see on the street. When in Ghana, do as the Ghanaians do.!!!

aight…I’m going to the beach now, so I gotta bounce. Big day today! Stay tuned!

 

LOVE,

Jeremy Ginsburg

 

PS please comment.  I will do my best to respond to them! I want to know your thoughts, opinions, concerns, and life aspirations.

Hello again!

 

Ghana is wonderful! My time here has been exponentially awesome. It’s hard not to love it here; it’s actually quite similar to the US, barring some minor differences that Americans aren’t use to…

 

For example, Ghana imports EVERYTHING. From floss to shoes to furniture. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2007 (there are still billboards and signs up advertising it) and they had to import ALL the mini Ghanaian flags that they gave out/sold to people. As far as exports go, they export the high quality of a good in order to make the most money, so the locally sold stuff isn’t that great. They also don’t need the high quality stuff here. Fruit is a prime example, you’d expect it to be phenomenal, but supposedly they get rid of freshest fruits leaving the mediocre ones for the Ghanaians. What a unselfish country ;-) They also import the oil from outside of Ghana, and export the oil from Ghana because they don’t need the better oil here. Being an Economics major and all it interests me a lot. sike.….And, the minimum wage is about the equivalent to………drum roll please…….TWO DOLLARS.……per DAY! CRAZY. At the very least they could get $2 bills or something.

College here is a little cheaper than the US. Some kids on my program that go to private schools are paying over $50,000 a year for tuition and housing. In Ghana, at the University in Legon (which is by far the best University here), it costs $400 a year. If I ever agree to pay for my kids’ college, I’m sending them to Ghana! Okay maybe not, I might miss them (if they are cool).

What else is different here….the names! The U-pals on my trip names include: Kweasebia, Gideon, Evans (the S is suppose to be there), Ohene, and Achu (pronounced like the American sneeze. very fun to say). Achu also has a twin sister named Achupi. Achu and Achupi! Awesome! Nana is a common name here, but I’m pretty sure it has another meaning other than “Grandma”.  It is common to be named after the day of the week of which they were born. So, my name would be Jeremy “Kwabena” (Tuesday). I’m sure that gets very confusing with twins and triplets, though. I have yet to meet someone named Simba. If that day comes I’ll let you know. Apparently, there’s an Israeli embassy here. Another fun fact. Go Jews.

 

Friday night we all went to dinner at a restaurant near by that had a live band. The food was delicious. I’ve started to try to eat like Ghanaians, they don’t usually use silverware. They eat most things with their hands and its incredibly fun. My Ghanaian friend said to me “are you Ghanaian? you are eating just like one!” Everything is done with their right hand here. Their left hand is known to be their personal hand, used in the bathroom to wipe and other things. I’ve been trying to learn to wipe with my left hand but it’s a bit awkward, and can have some consequences. At the restaurant the power went off 3-4 times. The longest stretch was about ten minutes. It was fun!

Then…. we DANCED. that was amazing. nothing like a jewish Friday night song session, that’s for sure! I have some videos and pictures from that that I’m going to post on Facebook or maybe here if I can. It’s really hard to explain it with out pictures. They dance here so easily. They’ll come dance with you and copy what ever move you are doing at the time….and then do it 100 times better. There are also a lot of great dancers on my program from the US. Man oh MAN.

After the dancing we went back to the hotel and there was another live band and we kept dancing. After an hour or two total of dancing I had sweat through my under shirt and my button down was sweaty too. Then, the bunch of us that was still awake and not too exhausted from dancing and everything went swimming in the hotel pool and chilled and had a beer or two. The drinking culture here is very different than in the states. people don’t really get wasted, EVER. It’s mainly because if people see you are drunk they will take advantage of you and rob you. Robbery is common here. Everyone must be careful. Women walk with backpacks and their babies in front of them so they can be seen at all times. Friday night I took a shower and the power went off a few times while I was in the shower.  At first it was relaxing, but then a little scary and annoying. I think the power went out around 8 times that night. But, I kinda liked it.

 

On Saturday we finished up orientation, which included a guest lecture from a professor on campus who gave us a brief run down of Ghanaian history (I’m sure you could find a better summary on Wikipedia so I won’t bore you). It was a great lecture though. The current president of Ghana use to teach at my University. That’s pretty neat. Maybe one of my professors will one day become president! Then Saturday we left the hotel, said goodbye to Air conditioning, free wi-fi, and hot showers, and headed to campus.

 

So, Now, I’m settled in my dorm room, but my roommate has not arrived yet. It’s completely random who I live with. He could be from Ghana, Nigeria, Japan, Canada, USA, or anywhere. I think he is arriving in the next few days. I’m excited and a little nervous. Ghanaians take their school seriously; I sort of hope that is not the case for him. I live on the first floor which is nice, and I’m sweet mates with a U-Pal (university volunteer) who is AWESOME. He is a dance major and he said he would give me some lessons free of charge! I went to his room today to say hello and he had just picked up his lunch. He “invited” me to his meal, which is common in Ghana. If someone is eating and invites you to their meal their offering you to share it with them, not just try some. He had a TON of food. I accepted his offer and I asked him

“that’s a lot of food….were you planning to eat all of that?” and he told me he purposely got enough for 2 or 3 people figuring he’d have someone around to invite to his meal. That really amazed me.

 

My room does NOT have AC, but I do have a ceiling fan. I sleep with a bug net. It makes me feel like a prince. I have a back porch area which is kind of cool, just really hot. It’s kind of like camp here. Everyone sweats so much at every hour of the day, so showering is most common early in the morning and at night. The bathrooms are co-ed. But, the dorms are still pretty empty. I think most people are moving in during these next few days. The bathrooms don’t have towels, toilet paper, or soap. That’ll require some getting use to. I forgot to take soap today during my shower so I just used shampoo everywhere. Then, I forgot toilet paper one morning. That was an awkward walk back to my room. I have so much more to talk about but every time I’m on the phone or the computer I feel like I’m missing out on another exceptional experience! So…..More to come soon!

Meeco (I GO)

1 love.

Jeremy

 

PS feel free to comment about stuff you’d like me to elaborate on or any additional questions!

Akwaaba (welcome) to Africa!”

It’s my second morning in Ghana, but I feel like I’ve been here for a week. Our first day was mostly b.s. orientation stuff that we’ve already gone over, but the day was still amazing. We went to this mall in Accra that was REAL nice, but supposedly it’s by far the nicest mall in Ghana. WE SAW A LION ON THE WAY CHILLING NEXT TO IT! Okay, that’s a lie. Haven’t seen any lions yet.

My group is a cool collection of people. Of 39, only 6 are guys. Including me. Not a bad ratio. Most of my group is from small private schools in the east coast…VERY different from Madison. Most of these girls have never heard of the Badgers, let alone BIG 10 sports. Their loss…

So far the foods been GREAT. 2 out my 3 meals were buffets, which made it easy…but I don’t think I’m going to go hungry. The weather is pretty hot. Not sure the exact temp but it’s mid 70s at night and up to high 80s during the day. Last night we went swimming at like 10 o’clock to cool down….vacation baby!

My group has been staying at hotel the first few nights, but we’re moving into our dorms tomorrow (Saturday). A little less than half of my trip is doing a home stay with a Ghanaian family, and the rest are in the same dorm on campus called International Student Hostel. No one is living in the Ghanaian dorms (where I put as my number one choice to live) because the water and electricity was so inconsistent last semester that they didn’t put ANY foreign students there. I’m pretty bummed about that. I really wanted to live with locals.

 

The hotel here is very nice. Except the beds feel like a kitchen table with a padded table cloth on it. My sleep schedules all messed up. My first morning here I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t fall back asleep, then this morning I’ve been up since 2. The mosquitoes are pretty annoying. I woke up with about 8 bites, all on my feet….I guess it’s the only spot they can find that’s not hairy. There’s also been a few pet lizards in our bathroom. We named one of them “Toto”, which is TWI for “the place babies come out of”. Who would have thought Dorthy’s dog’s name was just a cover up!

 

So, everyone here does speak English, but they all know TWI (the most common tribal language) and prefer to speak that. TWI is pronounced “CHWEE”, except with a half silent ‘W’ that makes a little whistle noise. I’m still working on it… haha. I’ve learned some TWI so far, unfortunately none of the words I know are appropriate….so, stay tuned, Grandma!

 

Last night, after dinner, a bunch of us went outside and danced to music with our “U-PALs” (University of Ghana student volunteers that help out). It was AMAZING. Watching them dance was amusing, but watching them fail to teach Americans their moves over and over again was even better. There were some older people at the hotel hanging out and having a drink that were watching us, and at one point they spat up their beer they were laughing so hard (not at me, of course). I’m just looking to progress a little bit, one day at a time. My goal is to be good enough able to play a dancing role in the Broadway show, “The Lion King” by the time I get back. Anything short of that will be a failure.

There are a couple Nigerians on my program here to learn about their culture/ancestry. Pretty neat. Sort of seems like a Jew going to Israel for the first time (there are a lot of Jews on my trip, too. There’s a noticeable divide between them and the African Americans. Of course, I’m not sure which crew I’d rather belong to). Apparently Ghana and Nigeria are like “sister” countries. Not sure what that means yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s nothing similar to the USA’s relationship to North Korea. Most people on my trip are majoring in International ”something”, soc, or African studies.

I’d LOVE to talk about the funny shit about my group, but they might read this at some point and I don’t want them to know how I REALLY feel. Just kidding, most of my group is chill and I’m excited to get to know them. Except for the people who haven’t heard of Madison! They can eat some Gopher nuts.

 

Apparently the Kardashians are big here. I know. What a shame. I got a phone yesterday and will set it up soon so I can do press conferences over the phone. The internet is iffy here (the hotel…and the entire country), so I’m not sure how often I’ll be online. Aight folks that’s all for now. I’ll try to add some pictures soon.

Shalom, Aloha, and Ciao,

From Ghana with

Love,

Jeremy

 

 

 

Hello world!

HELLO WORLD!

Welcome to my BLOG! I’m going to try to keep this PG rated but beware. If you get offended easily then please just call my mom for updates. She will probably be embarrassed to pass along the inappropriate info I’ll be adding and should be able to give you an update on what I’ve been doing that will be fitting for all ages. And, like every other Jewish mother, she loves to talk about her children.

So, This is my first post and it will probably be the least interesting cause I’m still in America, but in one week I will be leaving to go to GHANA, the only country other than the USA to ever host myself for longer than two months. It’s GHANA be a fun trip. The official language in Ghana is English, though there are many tribal languages that are spoken there. The most common is Twi (pronounced CHWEE). Ghanians do not speak French, though all of the surrounding countries do.I plan to visit them and use my French conversational skills. In Ghana, I’ll be living on campus at the University of Ghana in dorms. I’m super excited to go. I just bought my Malaria medicine and can’t wait to take it so I can hallucinate and have crazy dreams. I’m still figuring out everything I gotta do before I go there, but I’m putting up this blog so all my family, fans, followers, lovers, haters, comrades, Americans, Jews, fat people, and everyone else can follow along in my journey to Africa. This blog will contain pictures, videos, poems, raps, haikus, posts, words, and excitement. It’s going to be sad at times. It’s going to be happy at times. It’s going to be racist at times. It’s going to be funny at times. Hopefully you all will find the racism funny, because I am not a racist. So get ready to tune in. Bookmark this bad boy on your browser, and prepare for my posts! Tell your friends!

Please comment and let me know your thoughts!

One LoVe,

Jeremy Ginsburg

PS don’t expect all of them to be this grammatically correct and appropriate. thx bit**es