Greetings from Abroad: a first e-mail from study abroad

By Christopher Wink | Jul 12, 2005 | First email from Ghana

Date: Tue 12 Jul 12:27:32 EDT 2005
From: Christopher Wink | Add To Address Book | This is Spam
Subject: Greetings from Abroad
To: Family


Sound the trumpeters for I have come to announce my arrival. I am here at the University of Ghana in Legon outside of Accra, and all is well.  I am sorry for not writing earlier, however international calling is somewhat sketchy and internet access is inconvenient, time consuming, and altogether nauseating.

That being said, I don’t know how often I will write, so I better do things real swell now.

The airplane ride was … long.  But it did get me a stamp from Germany and a visa and stamp from Ghana in my passport, the first such signs of an experienced travel I have encountered.

Accommodations at the hostel in which I am staying are, as usual, better than I would have hoped.  I am the only male in my group, so I was given a room to myself, though I share a bathroom with two of my group members.  I have a balcony off my fourth floor room looking out into what is either a construction site or shanty town… depends whom one asks and when one looks.

We lost running water, but only for a day, so the excitement of carrying water in buckets from a local and communal spigot was short lived.  I have been taking cold showers, rather than heating the water, as I find them actually quite soothing after the humidity of my African surroundings.  Yet, the temperature isn’t nearly as hot as one might expect, or at least as I expected – I had not factored in the local nature of the Gulf of Guinea, fed by the Atlantic Ocean.

Speaking of the water, I swam a bit in that very body of water… nothing special, Wildwood could certainly hold its own. I have played basketball a number of times, there is some talent, nothing spectacular, though I did run into someone from St. Louis.

Though I was aware Ghana was once a British colony, I hadn’t fully realized how universal the linguistic mandate of education that the UK must have imposed, I have met no one who didn’t understand even a bit of English.

I cannot go anywhere without being … “befriended” by young boys and local men wanting to sell me trinkets or do my laundry.  I politely shake their hands and continue moving,
as I uphold the same reaction I use in Philadelphia when confronted with people looking for money.

I am getting along well with my group, and surprisingly there is another European-American.  We have developed a friendship, though I hope it is more about our similar interests and humors and not a premature longing for and dependence on the skin we all like to claim doesn’t matter.

Classes began yesterday and have already caused me emotions ranging from suicidal-inducing boredom to modest interest.  We have two two-hour lecture sessions a day, preceded by breakfast and lunch respectively.  Really, we haven’t gotten into much of a routine as the first full week is beginning only now.

I am certainly enjoying the experience greatly.  I plan on buying some things to remember later on in my trip, and also hope to find a Ghanaian with whom I can develop a relationship so I can pass on some things I brought, rather than give my gifts to the inevitable hangers-on whom I suppose, right or wrong, survive by befriending tourists and foreign, richer students and visitors.

I hope all is well with all of you, and as I said earlier I may not write again for a week or so. I will wait to develop some sort of routine. Good bye for now. …Oh, and everyone’s fun fact, I am four hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.  Any premonitions I may encounter will likely be its result.

-Christopher George Wink

PS. Mom, you don’t have to print this out.

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