When I decided to go back to Ghana to volunteer, I knew that my professor Leslie Steeves from the University of Oregon who runs the Media in Ghana program would be happy to know that I was returning. We’ve been in contact for a little over four months now and more recently she began including me on some of the pre-departure emails for her students who are going to Ghana this summer. Students from the University of Oregon will be based in Accra around the same time as I will be in Kumasi, about four hours away by bus. They travel on the weekends and so far, it looks like I’ll be meeting up with them on July 17th in Kumasi so I’m very excited to meet up with some Ducks in West Africa!
Thanks to Professor Steeves’ latest email, I just learned that visa fees for Ghana went up $10 to $60 for single entry. Not a big deal but when things like this change overnight, it is nice to have someone keeping you in the loop. The visa application process has some detailed steps like writing in capital letters only, sending a money or bank order and not a personal check, attaching 4 photos, your airplane ticket number (not the same as a flight number), and you also need three references. Again, knowing someone helps. I wrote to Mr. Boateng at ECSO and he gave me three names and phone numbers. Leslie said I can use the U of O references as well which are a bit more detailed with addresses. It is recommended to apply for your visa as close to your departure as possible through the embassy website of the country you are visiting. I plan to apply for my visa when the second week of June rolls around and hope that the turn around time is what they say it is.
As far as other trip preparations go, REI has been a huge help. Thanks to Ashley, I had a friends and family coupon for 25% off of my purchases a few Sunday’s ago. I took full advantage and saved about $180 that day. I bought SteriPen to sterilize my drinking water even though I plan on drinking bottled water anyway. With my discount I also shopped for conservative and lightweight threads like the Mountain Hardware LaStrada skirt, the Patagonia Vitaliti Skirt and breathable/quick drying shirts like the REI Traverse Tech shirt. While I am somewhat aware of the dress code norms from being in Ghana once before I will be working in a school so the more conservative the better. According to Wikipedia:
It is unacceptable for women, particularly young foreign women, to wear clothes of a revealing nature. Female clothing which would be acceptable in the West (shorts, low-cut strapped tops, etc) are not socially acceptable in Ghanaian society.
In other news, I also purchased a lightweight netbook computer to make communications easier with friends and family back in the U.S. I’ll plan to write posts as often as possible and then actually post them when I get to somewhere with Internet access. I got a steal of a deal on a little Dell Vostro netbook from Craigslist Chicago and I’m still giddy about it since the thing works like a charm and may or may not have some of the same ‘traits’ as my MacBook. I had my second appointment last week with the travel clinic affiliated with my primary care doctor for my Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid shot (typhoid hurt for days!). At customs in Ghana, you must show proof that you received a yellow fever shot and they last 10 years so mine should still be good. I’m waiting for the University of Oregon to release my medical records from college so hopefully I won’t have to get any more shots. Well, happy Friday folks! Enjoy the weekend.
Looks like it’s going to be a nice one in Chicago!