Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sure is hot out here....Ghana Elective Day 1

Where do I begin? I'm alive and well in Ghana. The flight with Turkish airlines was very comfy, especially after grabbing the exit row seats....so...much...room! 

Leaving the plane in Ghana, I was hit by the hotness (about 30 degrees Celsius)....mind you it was already dark and 8 o'clock at night. The customs line took a while. I finally got through about an hour or so after debarking. I picked up my suitcase  and started walking out thinking how I might recognize the woman picking me up. My hope was that the simple fact that I am tall, blonde and white would be enough for her to see me. I was helped with my luggage, the guy wanted cash in return, sadly for him I had none. On exiting the airport, there was a huge line with people holding signs. One after another but no recognizable name. Until the end, for some reason I felt like I knew her and she was holding a sign with my name.

We stopped by a few places to pick up water and snacks. She drove me over the campus and to the international student housing. I had no idea what to expect. What I got is a room with two beds, two desks, a tv, small fridge and bathroom. There was a doctor from Nigeria there for the night. She had to leave at 5am but actually left at 3am. And she was packing and cleaning the whole time. I tried going to sleep around 11:30 and was constantly waking up every hour or so due to noise. She was very sweet though. She left me a water boiler and introduced me to a girl that lives here. She gave me a few pointers before I went to sleep as well. That is something I have definitely noticed, how nice everyone is and willing to help.

I woke up in time to get ready and get picked up by Sandra to take me to the admissions office. Even in getting ready, I was confronted with an issue I have to get used to working with....no running water. The water is in big plastic containers in the bathroom and a plastic bowl inside to move it. I'm learning to work with it. Even took a "shower" at night. Making the toilet work is a bit trickier but I've got it down.

The admission office was still closed by the time we got there so we headed over to OBGYN to check in there. They wanted me to go back to admissions and pay before starting in OBGYN. Sandra dropped me off at admissions and I was on my own. Things aren't quite as regulated as they are in Germany. Everyone takes their time to get to work. I sat in the waiting room for 45 minutes before the secretary got me although I had seen her running around chatting before that. Oh well. Africa time. 

I paid and headed back to OBGYN. There I was assigned Team D. A doctor took me for a super short tour and introduced me to a few people before letting me into a room where a few students sat. They introduced themselves and gave me a spot to sit. They asked where I was from, what year I was in, how long I was staying. These ended up being the standard questions for the day, along with "what are the differences between Ghana and Germany?". (So many!)

They then lead me into the adjoining room where a patient and her child were sitting (adorable little four year old who just looked at me with big eyes and asked his mom in Twi, the local language, who I was. Probably doesn't see to many Bruni (I believe that is the correct word and means white person) around here. I certainly didn't.) . It took me a moment to analyze the situation but I concluded it was a student taking the history and multiple other students watching/studying/talking/walking in and out. They are a lot more relaxed about it all here than in Germany. Everyone comes and goes. The history taking took really long. I couldn't quite get a lot of it because it was in Twi. Later on I was informed she had infertility problems. We waited for the consultant to have time for us all so that the student could present. 

The waiting room for the patient consisted of a covered open area with a lot of benches. There seemed to be endless patients. Since we had only been dealing with one, I figured we weren't getting home until late. When we left our room though, a lot of the patients had already been taken care of.

There were two patients that needed to be presented. The crazy thing is that they had to wait there just as long as we did. That would never happen in Germany. There would be a lot of attitude and grumpiness. Here though, they didn't say a word. The consultants asked a lot of questions. All in all, the students did a good job though.

After those presentations we were done at around 2. The students were all so nice to me. A few guys took me to their hostel so that I could use their laptop and get in contact with everyone. On the way we got fresh coconuts! I will be doing that everyday! 

The connection to the wifi in the hostel was bad and kept throwing me out on my iPhone. Hopefully I will find a better way to surf. The Internet in my hostel isn't connecting at all to my devices. I might be going through some serious digital detox here. 

Selom and I grabbed a bite to eat and then returned to the hostel so I could try to get some stuff done. Not successful. Afterwards I headed back to my hostel. Tried my luck with the Internet. Failed. So I had to upload this post late. 

I will be letting you know about the differences I'm experiencing as they happen. I've already mentioned a few; the friendliness, the hotness, the openness of the place structurally, the bad wifi, the not running water in my room, the fresh coconuts! 

I will have to just get used to the weather and the mind set of the people here. But I am sure I can roll with it. I'll keep you all updated as much as possible!

Baci V

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