The first thing that hits me when I think back on my time here in Ghana is how fast time has gone by. I know, it sounds cliché – but truly, by the end of it you won’t know where those 10 weeks went.
The introduction week is hectic in its own way, with lots of new impressions, information and experiences. We had a couple of seminars giving us the basic and necessary information about Ghanaian history and culture – like the history of the Queen Mother who defeated the Brits twice or how to properly greet a chief.
After that, period of lectures starts. These six weeks are divided into three modules, each addressing a broad topic within the course; sustainable development, political ecology and natural resource management. For each module we had about two lecturers each day and ended at lunchtime at 1 pm/13:00. I’ll admit that the day seemed to stretch on forever sometimes, but luckily the professors were all pretty good at mixing things up to keep it interesting. For every module we had a field trip; the first to Agbogbloshie, the e-waste site in Accra, secondly to a mine site in Takoradi and lastly to Kakum National Park. They all offer a unique experience and is in itself a reason to travel with Kulturstudier; it brings a whole new level of understanding of environmental problems that you wouldn’t get by just reading a text book!
Every other week we had a ‘joint activity’ with some of the other students from UCC. These are organized as part seminar, part workshop, addressing various topics relating to the course. These are chaotic, hectic and great fun – plus we always get amazing juice from Maureen (besides phone credits, this was probably what I spent the most money on during the semester. Totally worth it though!) This is a great opportunity to know some of the locals – for instance, some of us got invited to a beach clean up event after our second activity.
My favourite part of the course was the class discussions we had. I can promise you they can get quite intense – the mix of people of different academic backgrounds, age and nationalities mean the class is well set for passionate debates, covering everything from the social construction of nature, to gender roles and the benefits of capitalism.
After those six wees, group paper period starts. We had a couple of seminars to investigate what we might want to write about, so don’t worry about deciding on a topic early on – you’ll probably change your mind once or twice anyways! Each group consists of about four-five people and we were pretty much free to dictate our time ourselves, expect a few mandatory submissions for reviews. Coming straight out of high school, I didn’t have any experience with group work on this level, but I think this was a great place to have my first go at it. At least here, you can relax at the beach after a long day of hard work – or when you just need a break from your fellow group members. Many of the groups also got to go on field trips for their interviews and all of them had an amazing time in Kakum National Park, the Volta Region and ccra. The staff in Cape Coast are super helpful to find good interviewees, so grab the opportunity to talk to some incredible people you wouldn’t have met otherwise!
Lastly, a quick recommendation if you want to enjoy your study experience as much as possible: don’t underestimate the amount of reading. I know it tells you so in the Study Guide, but take it from me – your experience will be a lot better if you actually read the course material. So, to sum up; studying with Kulturstudier is truly a one of a kind experience, where you learn to think and act fast to keep up with the hectic pace of the program. Its exhausting at times, but all the incredible experiences I’ve had both inside and outside the classroom has more than made up for it. And it is for sure a lot more exiting than spending the fall inside a classroom in Norway!