It took me long enough to settle my thoughts about my second time in Ghana. So much has left an impression on me or challenged my thoughts about topics I thought I had made up my mind about already.
Once again life thought me a lesson. A lesson that we never stop learning. Never stop experiencing the ups and downs of friendship, hardship, love.
I have met wonderful people in the past 6 month. International people, local people…it does not matter. The love we carry in our heart is what defines us. Not the color of our skin or the money we carry in our pockets.
It is about sharing values and respecting those that do not share yours.
The past month have been a challenge in every aspect of life. For the first time in my life I worked continuously for such a long period of time. Door to door days of 13 hours were common and the outskirts of Accra do not offer much of a relaxing environment after when it is dark. The daily commute of 2 hours (one way) Is something that I honestly have no intentions to repeat. But it gave me a good idea of what it means to work with a tight budget in a city with high prices compared to the average income level. Being part of the daily 1 million commuters of Accra was exhausting but strangely satisfying. It was part of a hands on research experience that no paper ever written could compensate for. First hand experience is the best experience. And so I came back home with a vast amount of new experiences, most of them positive and lots of them highly challenging for my own views on almost every aspect of life.
For the first time in my life I experienced loneliness.
That sort of loneliness in crowded places. Your brain is bursting with thoughts and questions and ideas and there is just no one there to talk to. Being busy thinking and being alone at the same time is the ultimate breeding ground for doubt and negativity. The parasites of ignorance and disconcertment feast on this loneliness and make your social environment an even greater challenge.
Every day was a bombardment with unfamiliarity. Your whole life is taken out of context and put into this new environment. Sounds, smells, tastes, the ways of social interaction…Everything is different.
I found that the biggest challenge was creating a comfort zone inside this unfamiliar environment. To find things I could relax with, people I liked to have around me, food I liked to eat, drinks I liked to drink. I felt all levels of needs whirled around and being arranged in a new way. Things that haven’t been important back home became top priority. The value of things and activities were set anew.
Yes I have been to Ghana before. I lived there before, I ate the food before, I experienced the people before. I knew what to expect and how to deal with a lot of situations. But nevertheless I found myself in this situation.
Reflecting on my behavior it is quite interesting that even though I understand myself as an international, liberal and intercultural person, I turned towards the international students for most of my social interactions. I found most of the persons I liked to surround myself with where I wouldn’t find any local people.
But what about my claim to so international? I felt bad to not open up to more local people; To accept the fact that: ‘I want to be your friend’ might actually be more than just a try to get a foreigners number and call 5 times a day.
I realized that working 5 days a week made me so exhausted that I needed familiar things around me. I sought sanity in my weekly ritual of going for a swim after Fridays work. Having someone to talk to in your own language can be a real relief.
I am happy to be back home and I am not happy that I am happy about it. If that makes any sense to you.
After I came home from the first time in Ghana I felt like I could live there for a while or have a job there for a longer period of time.
Right now I am still exhausted by this thought and wrapping my mind around the fact that I am about to graduate in a field that almost implies to live the expat live does not help me to concentrate on my thesis.
All the things that I longed for when I was away are now right in front of me. I do feel home. I do feel relaxed. I do feel the urge to go to new places and see things that I’ve never seen before, eat what I’ve never eaten before and life how I’ve never lived before.
Its all a big contradiction and the surest thing in my life right now is the uncertainty about my future whereabouts.