Ghana Itinerary

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our tentative itinerary was just posted online. I AM SO EXCITED!!! Especially for the orphanage!! I hope the kids don't mind getting red Indiana University t-shirts :) Also, I can't believe we are meeting the mayor of the capital of Ghana at his home. Accra is a huge city - 1.6 million people!

Activities Planned                                                                                                                 
Saturday March 10
5:12pm: Depart for Ghana
Sunday 11

1:10 pm:  Arrive Accra, check in to Fiesta Royale
Kwane Mkrumah Memorial Park and Craft market
Monday 12

Meet Mayor of Accra at his residence
University of Ghana visit
Coca Cola Ghana

Tuesday 13

Kingsbridge Microfinance, Raphael Tyson
Lunch on our own around the marketplace
Cocoa Marketing Board
Drive to Aburi
Woodcarvers village
Botanical gardens
Wednesday 14

BUV Ghana & Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam Tour 
Group lunch near the dam
Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary
Cocoa Research Institute
Thursday 15
Country-Side Orphanage visit (rural Bawjiase
[children need school supplies, t-shirts, dictionaries, toys, food items, rice, beans]
Cape Coast Slave Castle
Museum and City tour
Friday 16

Cape Coast – Coconut Grove Resort
Visit Elmina Slave Castle
Kakum National Park bridge walk
Lunch with Kwesi’s family
Batik Workshop
Traditional Dancing and Drumming Performance

Saturday 17

Return to Accra this morning
W.E.B. Dubois centre, cultural visits, and shopping
9:55 pm: depart Accra
Sunday 18
12:48 pm: arrive in IND


Shots, shots, shots!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

For those of you who are pop culturally literate - no, the title of this post is not referencing the LMFAO song, but rather all the immunizations I had to get to travel to West Africa! I leave in 14 days - March 10th. I think it goes without saying that traveling to Africa is more of an adventure than Europe. I'm not really sure what some of the diseases are that I had to be immunized against and I don't really want to know.

  • yellow fever
  • hepatitis A
  • typhoid
  • hepatitis B
  • rabies
  • meningitis
  • polio
All of Ghana is a risk for contracting malaria from mosquitos so I have to take antimalarial pills before, during, and after the trip. Additionally, I have to treat my clothing with permethrin (it's like deet on steroids!! and kills cats and fish!) and use 30-50% Deet on my skin. We are staying at hotels with air conditioning (thank God! it's going to be like 100 degrees in Ghana) so we don't need to sleep under mosquito nets. I know a fellow IU student who studied in Ghana last semester...and I thought moving to Eastern Europe was kind of crazy!

Other fun diseases that can be contracted in Africa: dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis. Basically, don't drink the water, only eat cooked foods, don't go into bodies of water, don't get bit by a dog, bathe in Deet, and have anti-diarrheal medications on hand. After the initial consultation with the IU travel clinic I think most of the class was wondering what exactly we have gotten ourselves into :)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I am well aware that being Christian, and more specifically a practicing Catholic, at a public university that is exceedingly secular and liberal, puts me among a small minority of students. I often feel like I can't speak up about my views/beliefs because I will be automatically labeled as narrow, close-minded, or a bigot. This is evident on a daily basis based on conversations I overhear among my peers, discussions with professors in class, and events that take place on campus (Playboy bus driving around throwing out calendars of pinups - any takers?). Most recently I was at a popular bar downtown for trivia night. The game allows for teams to complete a "wild card" activity to gain points for a question they don't know the answer to. Many of the possible wild cards are sexual. Last week a team drew a card where two same-sex members of the team had to go up on stage and kiss while the rest of the bar watched to laugh at their embarrassment and take pictures. Other such challenges require teams to simulate sexual acts that denigrate their human dignity and self-worth all to gain three points in a game of trivia and a chance to win free alcohol for a night. It's disheartening, but I digress.

There are 40,000 students on my campus. According to the registrar's office approximately 5,000-7,000 students are Catholic. Of that, the Newman Center estimated 2,000 Catholic students were attending Sunday Mass at the beginning of the school year. There were 8 Masses/services on campus today that students could attend for Ash Wednesday (more than for actual Holy Days of Obligation, facepalm). Today after being on campus for five hours I saw one other student with ashes on her forehead. ONE! I've never been more self-conscious or felt more "alone" in my life. I was texting back and forth with a few friends that I went to Mass with this morning and they all said the same thing, they all saw at most one person with ashes. My roommate saw a classmate at Mass that had washed his ashes off by the time he went to class...sigh. My friend Tom jokingly said that finding people that have ashes is like playing I Spy: Lent Edition.

I have one more class and then am going to an IU basketball game. If Coach Crean has ashes on his forehead on national television I will be beside myself with joy ;) Alright, I'm going to step off my soapbox now and defer to what the Holy Father & scripture has to say...

"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." — Romans 12:2

"The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness." — Pope Benedict XVI


Best roommate ever

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More fun than textbooks!
You know your roommate is awesome (and an elementary education major) when she goes to the public library to get materials for class and ends up bringing you home a graphic novel about Blessed Pope John Paul II :D I'm kind of shocked this kind of book made it into a public library, especially in such a liberal and secular town as Bloomington.

In the words of Renae - "it wasn't even on the shelf, it was sitting right on top as if God was saying 'Renae!! Check this book out for Liz!!'" :D

Both of my roomies are wonderful - we have all sorts of great discussions about our faith, church teachings (especially about the HHS mandate lately), discernment, etc. It's wonderful to live with others who share my beliefs and passions.

In other happy news, a) I leave for Ghana, West Africa in less than a month!!! and b) my good friend Stephanie got engaged yesterday!! Go read her blog about discerning married life and her engagement. If only all young couples "got it" like Stephanie and her fiance do...



Thursday, February 9, 2012

A year ago (on 1/31 to be exact) I arrived in Budapest, Hungary, having no idea what the following four and a half months would hold! Leaving my parents at the airport in Indianapolis was scary, and I somehow avoided crying on my three flights to Hungary thinking, "okay now I'm just one flight away from home...two flights...three flights...four months...." And let's be honest, my mom probably did enough crying for the both of us after I left :)

1/31/11 - First day in Budapest...jet lagged and culture shocked.
Also paid like $6 for that Americanized coffee. Rookie mistake!

Getting to Budapest itself was a bit of an adventure. I nearly missed my flight from Frankfurt to Budapest thanks to a long line at security that was lacking typical German timeliness and efficiency. When I got to Frankfurt it was around midnight in the US and 6am in Germany. There were several other American students waiting for their flight to Hungary. They were reveling in their newfound ability to purchase alcohol by drinking beers at the gate (mind you it's 6am in Europe...), much to the consternation of the other travelers.

When I landed in Budapest, my Hungarian tandem partner was supposed to pick me up, but he ended up coming on the wrong day. I was able to catch a ride with my roommate's partner who came in her boyfriend's car. For those readers who haven't been to Europe....the cars are generally tiny. Imagine squeezing two American girls with super sized American luggage into a Hungarian sized sedan. Thanks to Gábor's problem solving skills, all four people and 200+ pounds of luggage made it in the car.

Just kidding, he didn't actually drive a Trabant!!
As I become further and further removed from my semester in Hungary I have less "Magyar moments." However, last week I was at the grocery story buying orange juice and realized the last time I bought oj was at my szupermarket in Hungary (wah wah waaaaah). Then I realized I knew exactly what brand of narancslé to buy in Hungary, but no idea which American brand I prefer. After some intense googling in English and Hungarian, I found it!!
Why doesn't Kroger carry this brand?!
While I am on the topic of orange-flavored Hungarian beverages. I would just like to put in a plug for Soproni Narancs sör (Soproni orange beer), also know as the tastiest girly beer known to mankind. This beer tastes like a mix between Sunkist & Hi-C. It's so good I had a friend who drank it with her breakfast. No joke. A big can like this was only about $1.  Best Soproni narancs memory? Drinking a can in a park along the Danube river one night with my Hungarian friend Fruzsi. It wasn't a bad part of town but a lot of Roma men (aka gypsies) were hanging out in the park. One Roma in particular who was drunk came up to us and started asking for a cigarette in Hungarian. Since Fruzsi and I were already speaking in English she pretended she didn't speak Hungarian, hoping the language barrier would be enough for him to give up and leave. The man lingered for a few minutes, still trying to bum a cigarette. Fruzsi finally told him to baszd meg (one of the handful of phrases I still remember, oops) and he finally left. I never had been bothered by Roma before so I didn't really understand why most Hungarians hate the Roma so much. After that experience and having a few more gypsies bother us, I began to understand the prejudice against the Roma.

For the record, my Hungarian hohes C orange juice was better than the Minute Maid I paid $5 for at Marsh. And if anyone brings me a few cans of Soproni Narancs from Magyarorszag I will pay you 1000 dollars forints ;) Watching the Super Bowl this year reminded me how last year the Americans were scrambling to find a bar 1) that had a channel with the game on it and 2) would stay open til 4am to watch the entire game. Magyarország hiányzol - I miss you, Hungary!