The other day I was chatting with my roommate about our neighbourhood. We’ve lived here for six months and now that we’re both leaving in a few short weeks, we realize that there is still so much that we haven’t explored and not for lack of time or opportunity. We just haven’t made it a point to expand our exploration beyond the streets closest to us—unless we’re heading into town. Accra has become like home, and it’s so easy to stick to the same tried and true places in the same neighbourhoods; saving adventure and exploration for weekend trips out of the city.
With my time in Ghana coming to an end, I’ve been reflecting about how different choices I’ve made here have helped to shape my experience. Making it a point to continue exploring new places and breaking the routine is something I wish I would have done earlier; but overall my choices have been good ones and contributed to me having a phenomenal experience.
Here are a few things I’m really glad I did:
When I first arrived in Ghana, I was living in shared accommodations for expats. It was a great place to meet new people, but one of my goals for being here was not to get stuck in the expat bubble. Living in a real community has given me the opportunity to interact with Ghanaians in ways that I wouldn’t otherwise. I’ve been invited into my neighbours’ homes, attended family functions and generally feel like I’m part of the community.
For the first five months here, I recorded every Cedi I spent and what I spent it on. That may have been a little excessive, but when you’re on a fixed budget and not getting paid bi-weekly or even monthly you don’t want to run out. The fact that I was so money conscious early on has meant that now I can feed my addiction to fabric shopping and having clothes made before coming home.
3. Treating myself every once in a while.
Living within a budget, sometimes you have to live as cheaply as possible, but I’ve found little treats to be necessary. I’m fortunate to be in a big city where I have access to Western-style coffee shops and fancy hotel swimming pools, which would break the bank if I indulged consistently, but every once in a while it’s the perfect escape.Add this article to your reading list