36 Days in Ghana: My Experience as a German Nursing Student Abroad
This blog post is courtesy of Anja from Germany who spent 5 weeks on the Medical Internship project in Ghana as part of her studies as a nursing student. It is unedited (except a few spelling/formatting changes) and in her own words. Enjoy!
From Germany to Ghana
I started my journey on the 5th of January 2019 at 7.40am in Frankfurt, Germany and arrived in Accra, Ghana after a 13-hour journey at 20.35pm.
The heat received me when I stepped out of Kotoka International Airport and was always with me for the next five weeks. It made me to forget that it was actually January and in some parts of Germany they had snow the same time… The heat is always there, also in the nights, same as the mosquitoes. My best friends became mosquito repellent, the fan and a mosquito net.
At my real first day in Ghana we went to Labadi Beach. Sundays in Ghana are meant to be spent at the beach after church, so it was really busy. A lot of families, guys with horses and a lot of sellers trying to sell you plantain chips, sunglasses, wooden sculptures, etc. You have to try coconut water, freshly prepared in a coconut for you!
Monday was a Bank Holiday so we seized the chance and Jordan and King showed me around Accra. I saw the Independence Square, the Black Stare Arch, the Craft Market and gained nice first impressions.
While in Ghana forget about seat belts, most times they are not working or not even there. The most comfortable way to get from A to B is using a taxi or Uber, but the cheapest way is the Trotro; this is how I got to my placement at the hospital every morning. Trotros are old transporter vans, which are rebuilt with seats for 9 to 15 people. You can still see the logos of the European companies they belonged to in former times. When you want to travel longer distances in Ghana, the best way is using a bus but be careful not get on a nearly empty one, the driver will wait until every single seat is taken before driving – this can take hours!
Medical Internship in Ghana
The next day my placement at La General Hospital started. For the next five weeks from Monday to Friday I was at the hospital. Shadowing the doctors at the different wards and helping the nurses as best as possible.
Keep in mind that even when English is the official language in Ghana, people in and around Accra are speaking Twi or Gha. I can´t compare it to any language I know but during your stay you will learn to understand and speak some phrases.
The differences to a German Hospital were big but it was really interesting to see the way how the stuff is working, what challenges they have to face every day and how they deal with the local conditions (old instruments, etc.). Of course I also learned about new diseases and got to know the Ghanaian Health Care System.
In total there were no career benefits in practical work for me but it broadened my mind – it was a life changing experience!
Free Time Adventures
At the weekends I used my free time to explore Accra and it´s surrounding area with the local team. There are a lot of nice places for a drink on Friday Night or learning and dancing Salsa. And of course Sunday was a Beach Day!
Some other activities we did were a Safari at Shai Hills, this is a Resource Reserve, were you can do a guided Safari and see wild animals like baboons, a ostrich, zebras, antelope and many birds and butterflies. The landscape is impressing and the scenery is breathtaking.
Another weekend we traveled to Cape Coast, visited the Castle and learned about Ghanaian History. We stayed at a really nice Hotel and the next day we survived the Canopy Walkway at Kakuum National Park and fed crocodiles. I can really recommend this trip, it was absolutely amazing!
Of course there are many more trips you can do during your stay in Ghana but you need some more time if you want to travel by bus… next time I visit Ghana I really want to see the North of the country!
In the end the time in Ghana went ways to fast but I had the best 5 weeks I could imagine! The local team were the best hosts I could wish for. The work they are doing for the community is just inspiring and they gave me insight into their work.
Also my placement at the hospital was a success! Meda w´ase (Thank you) GOAT Volunteers for this opportunity!