What’s it like being back from Ghana?

Do you miss Ghana?

Yes. Everyday. Sometimes more than others, but I definitely miss Ghana A LOT! I miss the experience I had there, the people I surrounded myself with, and the situation I was in, but I still miss the country itself a lot. I’ve now been back for over 2 months, but I still find myself acting as if I was in Ghana quite often.

I had a dream I was at a soccer game watching the Black Stars play, and I was sitting next to the Asantehene (chief/king). I woke up that morning and thought I was back in Ghana.

I feel like I’ll have a little Ghanaian in me forever. Some people that haven’t seen me since before I left have told me, “Wow, dude, you LOOK African.” I disagree with that. If there’s any African in me, it’s all on the inside!

How’s the adjustment been?

It’s been hard at times, but overall not too bad. I appreciate weird things that no one else seems to notice: nice bathrooms in restaurants, air-conditioned stores, free napkins at coffee shops, free drinkable-tap water at restaurants, and unlimited toilet papers and soap! I haven’t had any HUGE culture shock issues, but definitely a few.

I was at the metro station in DC and the security guard told me there was no food or beverages allowed. I couldn’t finish the rest of my iced coffee, so I “invited” him and his friend to my drink. They stared me down like I had made a joke about their mother. My friend blurted, “He’s just kidding, don’t worry.” But, I wasn’t kidding. Why was it rude to try to share my coffee with him?

I also tried to share food with a stranger sitting next to me on a bus. He seemed a little freaked out as well.

I recently got a job as a DJ-Entertainer for weddings. During a training session, my boss hit his head on the ceiling fan while he was setting up a speaker. “Oh, Sorry!” I said. He then laughed and yelled at me not to be sorry. He demanded me to laugh at him and make fun of him, and not to be sorry. “What are you sorry for? You should be laughing at me for acting like an idiot! Not saying ‘sorry’!” (In Ghana, if you drop something or fall, someone will tell you they are sorry.)

I also have had a hard time adjusting to the “no urinating in public” rule in the United States. I feel the urge quite often, but I’m doing my best to follow the rules as best as I can.

I miss the dancing culture of Ghana so much I can’t even express it in words. I remember the first few weeks in Ghana how shocked I was when people started dancing. I remember being the only one not dancing and feeling out of place. Now, it’s almost the opposite. When I hear music I wanna move! In Ghana, if music is playing, it is acceptable to dance, even if it means dancing alone. When I’ve tried to dance by myself in the States, people look at me like “check this guy out! He’s SO DRUNK!” It’s made me realized that the only people who really dance by themselves are the super drunk ones.

In the weight room in Ghana, I use to be the only one listening to headphones, while everyone else listened to the Ghanaian music that came out of the speakers. I recall smirking at the Ghanaians as they danced with each other in between reps while they lifted weights while I listened to my pump up American music. Now, whenever I’m working out and a hiplife track comes on, I feel the urge to start dancing. And, I’m sure everyone surrounding me stares at the short white kid dancing in the weight room.

It’s also been an adjustment talking to strangers. I can no longer flirt with girls around my age by speaking Twi and danzing azonto. I can’t hiss at someone to try to get their attention. When I was in Ghana, I felt most of the locals wanted to talk to me. Maybe it was only because I was a foreigner, but it was still nice to have people want to talk to you. Now, I find myself looking for Ghanaians to talk to. It’s not like they’re everywhere, either.

I’ve also noticed that I now live a much slower paced life. I often feel rushed. I walk very slow. I like taking my time. I’ll get picked up and will be yelled at for not rushing into the car if we are late. If I run to the car and save 30 seconds, is that REALLY going to make that big of a difference?

A friend came over and I offered to escort him to his car on his way out and he acted all confused when I insisted. In the words of my Ghanaian friend, “It’s the least I can do after someone has come all the way to my house to visit me.”

Questions that I have been asked:

What kind of food did you eat? (long answer.)

Did any Africans try to cut you? (No.)

Do they eat monkeys? (No.)

Are people from Ghana called Ghanarreans? (No, They are called Ghanaians.)

Did they have cars in Ghana? (yes)

Did you get AIDs? (No.)

Did you see any Cheetahs? (No.)

Are you African now? (No)

What’s the currency called there? Kwabenas? (No. Cedis. Kwabena is a name given to males born on Tuesday!)

Do you miss it? (Yes, very much!)

Thanks for reading!

xxxooo

J-Kwabena-Ginsburg

6 thoughts on “What’s it like being back from Ghana?

  1. I’ve felt a lot of the same wounds being back from Ghana. It’s not always easy and quite often I feel eccentric. Oh, well. I believe we can affect the collective with our energy. Good luck, and try not to urinate in public!

  2. LOL jeremy its Audra i feel the same way!! I miss the WHOLE experience even when we were stuck in situations that most people wouldnt consider that will make you happy, we still were!! I just want to go back i miss everyone!! Sometimes as i think about it i start to cry it was a beautiful experience thats was gone too soon!!

    • AUDRA! My dear, hope all is well! Don’t cry…it’s okay to be sad at times but we are so LUCKY to have had such an experience. Enjoy the present and wherever you are, but keep Ghana in the back of your mind as a reminder to stay happy. If time passes and you still miss it more than you can handle…start saving up for a ticket back! (And let me know, too…maybe I’ll join!)

  3. Great post, Jeremy. Sounds like you have some serious Ghana in you! Never stop dancing! Escorting to the car is also a midwest thing! Good byes at my house and my relatives’ homes take forever. We say good bye in the house, good bye on the steps, and good bye in the driveway! Then we stand there and wave until they are out of sight. My husband does jumping jacks; but there is no accounting for his behavior–except maybe natural joy!

    • Thanks, Jill! My friend from the south also escorts to the car, too. I’ll have to try the jumping jack goodbye…we’ll see how that works out! I’m sad I can’t make it to the golf event this year. Maybe next year, once I can afford it and will be in town, I’ll attend! Hope all is well!

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