Dec 3rd, 2019, 11:45 AM

5 Things I Learned in Ghana

By Kayla Lopez
Ghanaian Flag at Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park
Ghanaian Flag at Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. Image Credit: Kayla Lopez
Experiencing My First AUP Study Trip

As a junior, and this being my very first study trip, I was obviously excited and eager to see what an AUP study trip is finally like.  Going to Ghana, made it even more special to me as it would be my first ever experience in Africa. I knew going on this trip I would learn a lot about myself and the world around me and I’m excited to be able to share that with you here.  So, without further ado, here are five things I learned in the beautiful country of Ghana. 

1: Concepts learned in class IRL

The companies we visited were Nestle, GTP, and Niche, all of which turned out to be pretty interesting. Being able to see words spoken and concepts put into action learned from my Operations Management class, helped me further understand the subjects that we were learning in class. As our guide showed us around the factory, hearing business terms that I recognized actually excited me because I felt as though I truly understood what was being said. It was during these moments where I realized that sometimes learning in a classroom isn't enough. You have to actually be put in the setting of what you are learning to better and more thoroughly understand the concepts as you are seeing them in action.

Nestle Factory.  Image credit: Kayla Lopez


2: How to bargain in the markets

Going through the Ghanaian markets had to be one of the most fascinating experiences of our stay. The two main markets that we visited were the Tema market and the Arts & Crafts market where you could quite literally get lost in because that’s how big and crowded they were.  Professor Odonkor, who’s Ghanaian herself, had prepared and informed us about the bargaining culture that we should partake in. She had warned us that because we were obvious foreigners in a group, the salespeople would try to increase their prices but that it was a part of the culture to participate in a friendly bargain with them.  Long story short, I got a really nice, traditional pair of pants for 12 euros when they should have been almost 30 euros!  

Going through the Tema market.  Image credit: Kayla Lopez


3: Appreciate our education

On our third day in Ghana, we had the opportunity to visit a local elementary school to teach a class for about 30 minutes. The second-grade class my partner and I were assigned to was filled with enthusiastic children ready to learn about anything. This made my experiences so eye-opening and changed my attitude for the rest of the trip. Being able to see how happy these children were despite the conditions of their classrooms and neighborhoods, they had on the brightest and most genuine smiles I’ve ever seen. After this, it kind of makes it hard for me to complain about my education because I now know how appreciative I should be.

Beatrice Spencer and I with a second grade class.  Image credit: Kayla Lopez


4: Remembering our past

After a 4-hour car journey to the Cape Coast, we visited the Elmina Castle which was a trading post built by the Portuguese in the 15th century. It started off with trading gold and ivory but then turned into trading slaves. Walking through the same dungeons and halls that thousands of slaves had suffered thousands of years ago really impacted everyone in some way or another. Soaking in this experience made me realize the number of people that don’t always know what their ancestors had to go through in order for them to have the life they have today.  I just think that it is important for us to remember the things that have happened in the past because, without them, we would not be living in the world we live in today.

Outside of Elmina Castle. Image credit: Kayla Lopez


5: Facing my fears

I’ve never been a huge fan of heights.  But I’ve also never been one to pass up on a fun, adventurous opportunity, so when it came to walking across seven canopy bridges 40 meters above the ground, there was no excuse for me not to do it.  The canopy walk at Kakum National Park totaled a length of 330 meters, overlooking the treetops of the tropical forest. I knew that if I didn’t complete the walk that I would regret it and thankfully it was so worth it as it was the most thrilling part of the trip that ending being one of my favorites. 

Canopy Walk at Kakum National Park. Image credit: Kayla Lopez

It's safe to say that my first AUP study trip was definitely a success and I won't be forgetting about this experience any time soon. Not only were all the places we visited very amusing, but the friendships I formed on the trip with other students that I had never seen or talked to before made the whole trip that much better.  So, if you're ever hesitant about going on a study trip just because you don't know anyone else that's on it, take the chance, and go on the trip because odds are you'll make a whole bunch of new friends. 

I hope you enjoyed reading just a little bit about my experience in Ghana, now it's your turn to take advantage of the study trips that AUP has to offer before it's too late!