Updated: Nov 5, 2019
The highlight of my summer was getting to study abroad in Accra, Ghana for 2 months this summer! It was such a beautiful experience and I put together a little travel guide for those who are thinking of choosing Ghana as their study abroad destination, or just visiting in general!
Almost everyone I encountered in Ghana spoke English and the signs at the airport were all in English as well as all around town! This was a huge relief for me and makes navigating around Ghana 10x easier.
Uber everywhere! Yes, Ghana has Uber and that was my main mode of transportation. Uber rides are typically 5 cedes ($1!!). The most I ever paid for an Uber during my entire stay was $5. Uber is so expensive in the States so these prices were unbelievable to me. The only thing is that the Uber drivers in Ghana don't follow instructions sometimes and do their own thing LOL, but when you experience this you'll understand how funny it is! Also, always use cash when ordering Ubers because the drivers do not like the card method, as it takes them forever to receive it in Ghana and will decline your trip requests.
TROTROS: This is a more "living like the locals" approach. I LOVED the trotros because the entire system is a beauty in the chaos experience. They are basically mini buses that you pay a cheap fare to ride, but they do stop a lot to let people on and off as opposed to just going straight to your destination which many hate, but I didn't mind at all. I always made sure I went on one with a local just because of the language barrier and I had no idea where I was going lol, but you can definitely ride one alone if you know where you are going!
The currency is the Ghanaian Cedi. A U.S dollar is equivalent to about 5 cedis which means your dollar goes a very long way! You can get cedis at any ATM, or if you already have cash, go to a local Forex. I came with $100 and visited a Forex my first day, which was 500 cedis and from there on, I used ATMs. To help me compare prices at the grocery stores in Ghana vs what I would pay back home, I would just simply divide by 5 to get the price in U.S dollars. For example, if a bag of chips was 15 cedis, I divided that by 5 and so it's $3. This just makes things easier so you can figure out if you are getting ripped off, or paying more or less than you usually would for something.
I studied at Webster University in Accra, Ghana. It is an American private university that my school is partnered with, so my airfare was paid for up to $1000, and I received 30% off my program. That is why it is important to speak to your study abroad advisor and figure out what discounts and perks you can receive ESPECIALLY IF YOU ATTEND A HBCU :)
It is a very small university compared to the University of Ghana, but I love small schools so it was perfect for me. The U of Ghana is TOO big in my opinion lol so I would have been very overwhelmed. Overall, I love the school/program I chose because my experience was extremely personable and authentic. I was alone in the sense that I was the only study abroad student in my program, but I was surrounded by Africans from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, etc. I woke up every day and decided what I wanted to do. I was free to explore the way I wanted too. I've seen a lot of programs where there are 20-30 students who all move together, eat at the same time, ride the same tour bus, and I know that's not the experience I wanted, so I was more than happy with what I got. I 10/10 recommend studying abroad at Webster University.
I stayed at the Webster University hostel which had 24/7 security and was in a pretty safe neighborhood so I felt safe all the time. The hostel was mixed with boys and girls, which I liked because it brings a nice blend to the housing environment. There was a kitchen and a cleaner who came every day. I stayed in a quad room, but I only had one roommate which thank God because I don't think the room was enough for 4 girls and one bathroom! The views from the hostel were gorgeous, and it was okay staying there. If I had to do it again though, I would have rather had my own apartment or living situation.
I can, by the grace of God, confidently say that there was never a moment where I felt unsafe in Ghana. Stealing was a top concern of mine when I first got there just because of stories I heard and hearing how electronic swapping was prevalent. I wanted to vlog my experience, so I needed to make sure your girl wasn't going to get her phone snatched lol. Certain areas you don't want to have your phones out like in busy markets and the rough areas, but for the most part you should be fine. Trust your intuition always and if something, somewhere, or someone doesn't feel right in general, leave. You can't enjoy anywhere if you're not safe.
To think, I wanted Ghana to be my first African country because I heard the people were hospitable. That's it! I knew nothing about Ghana except that I wanted to feel welcome and that it was in Africa. The people OVER EXCEEDED my expectations. I always felt welcome anywhere I went even when I didn't open my mouth and nobody knew I was from the States. (Foreigners do get treated differently in countries sometimes.) It was so easy for me to make friends and get to know people. I literally would meet someone at 5:00pm and be out having dinner with them at 7:00pm lol. I even met people at the grocery store. You will be met with nothing but love!
I can be the pickiest eater, but Ghana's staple jolloff rice was my favorite! Coming from a Haitian background, I knew it would be because I have been eating rice all my life LOL. My other favorite foods were white rice balls, groundnut soup, white rice with stew, and yams. Stews are common in Ghana, and are usually paired with fufu, but there's something about swallowing my food instead of chewing it that did not work for me! I also recommend trying this doughnut-like street food called Buford (most likely the wrong spelling lol), but its pronounced like I spelled it.
When I tried Ghanaian food, I usually got it from the "street". It's cheap and taste amazing. Many people are against street food in general regardless of what country you are in, but honestly you have nothing to lose in my eyes. The best way to experience is to live like the locals themselves.
While I do believe in experiencing the native foods, there is nothing wrong like eating from "home" too. I was there for 2 months so of course I wasn't going to just eat locally. There are many American-based restaurants around if you crave something more familiar. KFC and Pizza Hut are in Ghana, which while I am not a fan of KFC I thought was cool! My favorite places include:
-Bawleshi for street food
-Pan and Cook at A&C Mall
-Cafe e Vidda East Legon Branch
-Bourbon House Cafe at A&C Mall
THINGS TO DO
As a tourist, there are always things to do and things to see. Here's a list of things you can do:
-Labadi Beach -A&C Mall
-Legon Botanical Gardens -Kwame Nkrumah National Park
-Arts Centre -Visit slave castles
-Accra Mall -Wli Waterfalls
-W.E.B Dubois Center -Paint Nights (@paintboireafrica)
Instagram is a great way to find events going on and things to do in your area, as websites are often not up!
P.S : The obstacle course and canopy walk at the Botanical Gardens were my favorite activities :)
I loved the nightlife in Ghana simply because it was always a good time and I felt safer than I do partying here in the States! Osu is the place to go for all your clubbing desires definitely.
Friday is the popular day of the week to go out. I mean places are crazy packed to the point where it is unbearable, but it can still be fun. Saturdays were more for me, as it was still a lot of people, but not to the point where I couldn't move lol.
As far as drinks go, you don't get ID'd in Ghana. If you look like you are old enough to drink, you drink lol.
Popular nightlife venues include:
-Bloombar (VERY POPULAR)
-Republic Bar & Grill
* You will need a converter/adapter in Ghana, as the outlets are very different. Thankfully my study abroad program provided one for me because I had no idea where to get one from, but it is a MUST!
*Because of the fact above, don't bother bringing any of your hair appliances because they most likely won't work and won't be able to be converted anyways. If you need hair appliances just buy one cheap at a mall or local store, it will save you the headache.
*You do need a visa to travel to Ghana. I found the process to be overwhelming at first, but it turned out to be pretty easy.
*Yellow Fever is required, but get Malaria pills as well. If everyone in Ghana had stories to tell me about the MULTIPLE times they had Malaria, please don't think you can go and not get it (very slim chance you won't). I got bit my mosquitos when I was fully clothed so :)
*Men are naturally very flirty in Ghana LOL, do be mindful of that. I was very friendly and my friendliness was often misinterpreted for being interested in some of them. It’s not a big deal at all and nothing to be worried about, but just something to keep in mind.
I honestly wouldn't even have enough words to explain everything my study abroad journey entailed, as it would never end! I had an amazing time and it was truly a life-changing experience. Feel free to reach out with any questions via IG: christinaajp or my CONTACT page!
I also vlogged a good chunk of my experience on Youtube!: Christina Jane