*joke’s on me and you both, because I’m in Ghana already
I’m guessing everyone has heard already, but yes, I decided to do something crazy fun and go on exchange – to Ghana. I’ll be talking about why Ghana (and how did I eventually end up with this decision), the nerve-wrecking waiting time to get an answer to my application, and then how in two weeks I got all of my paperwork in order and how I am now on my way to Ghana. Tho when this goes live then I’ll already be in Accra, and it’s just a little scary right now.
So, why Ghana? A lot of people have asked me and I’m not sure I’ve ever given a proper answer. The reason is rather simple – I don’t really know. Ghana was not my first choice, and to be honest then I would have never guessed I’d end up going to Ghana when I put it down as my second choice. I had been planning my exchange to Nepal for over half a year, I was even looking at apartments there. And then when it just didn’t work out and I didn’t get a proper answer from them I just decided to apply to Ghana – by that time it was already the end of November and I was just hoping I can travel anywhere at all. So then suddenly instead of going to mountains and snow and Nepalese cuisine I turned my eyes towards beaches, hot weather, and coconuts.
Ghana, for some weird reason, has always been a special place for me. I remember when we had to learn African countries at school, Ghana was the first one I could point out on a map. And Ghana has also continuously been the country I root for during World Cup in football… and I don’t even watch football. So when I got more into afrobeats and had to put a second choice down for my exchange, Ghana was a solid plan. Even though I thought it would never come true. Yet, karma had something else planned so here I am, waiting for my Istanbul-Accra flight.
I sent my application to the University of Ghana in the end of November, and on their website it says that they’ll get back to you in January. So, I never stressed about hearing from them. Yet, when January rolled around I was getting anxious – I knew semester starts the beginning of February. When will I have time to get a visa? To get my student loans in order? To get my plane tickets? I sent them an e-mail – no answer. And then my bestie’s boyfriend was like ‘write them on facebook’ and I said ‘no, that’s weird’, but did it anyway. By the end of the same day I heard from them, and by the end of the next day I had my invitation letter – to study at the University of Ghana. A lesson learned – use facebook people! That was January 10th. The arrival time was written down ‘between 22 and 26 January’ and I wrote them at once that I’ll maybe be there in February by the time courses begin.
Getting a visa to Ghana is somewhat weird process (for Estonian citizens), because I was supposed to apply for the visa in the Ghana Embassy in GERMANY. Now I knew that there’s another embassy in Denmark who issues visas for Scandinavians, but I’m not *really* a Norwegian. So I checked the German Embassy site. That’s kind of when trouble started. Google says the Embassy is permanently closed. They had failed to answer the two e-mails I had sent them in November and December, and when I tried to call them nobody asnwered. What didn’t make it better was the fact that people had had issues with this embassy before, as I read online. All-in-all, I just decided to call the Embassy in Denmark and ask them whether they could issue my visa instead. And they were nice, so nice. And friendly. Told me ‘not a problem’ at once (I mean it helps that I have a residence permit in Norway, that was actually the reason they said yes they can issue my visa) and I’m guessing that’s the Ghanaian hospitality I’ve heard of. The man who answered the phone when I called gave me so much information and helped me out in every way imaginable. Amazing. So I got my visa in three days, and it got back to me the day before I was to board my plane.
There were times when I wanted to cry and didn’t really believe I’d ever get my ass to Ghana at all. But when I applied for the University of Ghana, I told myself (and everyone else to be honest) that I’ll only put good thoughts and positive vibes into the universe. Think positive thoughts, and positive things will happen. I guess that’s the real karma here.
Now I wrote that at the airport in Istanbul, but I’m posting this from Accra, Ghana. First impression: it’s hotter than I thought. It’s hot. And it’s in the middle of the night, so I’m not sure what the morning will bring.
I’ll be writing first impressions of Accra and the University of Ghana this week as well.