Te dabai. It’s been some time!

I believe there is some truth in saying that all first time volunteers experience a low in the beginning of an experience abroad. I know I have, and I also know that I am climbing back out.

My particular low stemmed from many aspects: Being in such a different culture, leading me to feel extremely strange and downright stupid most times; missing my family and friends at home; feeling at first as though I may not be able to find purpose at work; and feeling sick, and constantly sweaty to name a few. These aspects led to an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, which then led on to an incredible feeling of guilt, for not loving every moment and taking advantage of this incredible experience.

Good news does come though! The past week, I have felt myself coming around the bend. I am surmounting this thing called the culture curve. See exhibit A:

I am enjoying the days, and really starting to acknowledge those moments when I am truly happy. I am feeling more and more purpose at work, and realizing just how much I have learnt in my past month in Ghana. Just yesterday, I wrote out a list of things I really appreciate about my surroundings in my journal. They are simple things that I failed to realize when I was feeling down, but now that I am feeling better, these fantastically simple things really do make a difference. I hope this short list also entices you to see the beauty that I’m experiencing!

The little things that count:

People calling just to see how you are doing, almost on a daily basis

The most genuine smiling that happens when you are greeting someone – especially the elderly women

Eating TZ and Okro soup out of the same bowl as my family, as they laugh and argue in Dagbani for hours

How little girls all have earrings

How people drive their motos extremely slow just to talk to all their friends on the way to their destination

The sound of the 7pm prayers, on a cloudless starry night

Loud exclamations of “Enh!!” in a conversation

Biking downhill on the way home, breathing in the beauty

How greetings to older, powerful men involve a bouncy, extended bow


How everyone calls each other sisters and brothers

Washing clothes by hand, barefoot on the hot cement of my compound

The shade of mango trees. Oh, and mangoes, I guess.

Tribal marks on faces

Markets, and how the ground is so chaotic

The love neighbors have for each other, and how it is acceptable to just walk into each other’s homes


All the plastic chairs with the unity symbol on them

School uniforms

FanIce icecream bicycles

Baby goats

The wide range of tro tro names, like ”Iron Man”, “Look into your soul”, “Meat Van” and “God Bless us
Every One”

Music stores, blaring the latest pop music, or some lively Dagombe music

How beloved malt drinks are

How invested people are in their own families

The sound of rain thundering on the roof, even as it rushes through the window like a jet spray and soaks all my belongings 😛

Not ever worrying about my appearance – going several days without looking in a mirror

How you say “You are invited” – “Tidzima” to neighboring people every time you begin to eat

Dirt roads

The full out, lively 3 hour dance party that makes up Sunday mass

Drumming, with women screaming to the music

Sayings like “Have you seen? (Do you get it)”, “I am going to the White House” (I’m going to take a shit), “Daybreak” (good morning), “I believe it is in order” (basically agreeing with a statement)

How you can get a full out delicious meal for 50 pesewas

The rooster outside my room cock a doodle doo-ing every morning starting at 4:00 AM.. K, not always.

The comfortable silence that can exist between two women of different culture and language

The extra mile of joy that comes from relating with someone, even on the most trivial level

Eating with your hands and no shame

The first shock of dumping water on yourself when taking the twice daily bucket bath

The realization of how truly little material things you need to lead a comfortable life

Colorful clothing

How holding hands with someone is entirely natural

The sound of pounding fufu

The plastic teapots found everywhere used to wash

Shortened figure of speech, like”go-come” for “I will go and come” (I will be back later), “How?” for “How
is it?” (How are you?)

So there you have it – the preliminary list of what Ghana really makes wonderful, and the small things that are helping me to appreciate the bigger ones.

Next time, I promise humour. (Hold me to that one.)

As for me, I am off!! Di tu biela!

9 thoughts on “Climbin’

  1. Hey lady! This blog post is really beautiful; and I’m super glad to hear that you are enjoying all these lovely parts of Ghana.
    Keep lovin’ it, and we’ll talk soon!

  2. Awesome! I was grinning from ear to ear reading down your list, so many good things! Hope your trajectory is ever upward!

  3. Amazing post Simone, I’m sad to hear that you were home sick but your spirit seems high which is great. Enjoy what you can because you will be back before you know it.

  4. Hey Simone! Thanks for posting such an inspiring reflection. Glad to hear you’re moving back up the curve and appreciating the beauty of simplicity, community, and so much more. It definitely makes you reflect on what we really ought to value in life. Keep smiling and appreciating every moment.

    P.S. I loved this one most: “The comfortable silence that can exist between two women of different culture and language”

  5. Awesome post. The graph, and of course all the things on the list that sort of paint a picture of what it’s like where you’re living 🙂

  6. Simone this is quite amazing. This culture really know whats important in life and have a true love of their people and treat others with a great love. It sounds like an amazing place and experience. Glad you are liking it……………..!

Leave a Reply to Dayna Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s