I feel the world would be a much better place if people could experience different cultures all together through hosting and going on exchange programs like I did for the 2015/2016 academic year. Then I believe people would accept others for who they are and rather meet and get to know a person before they judge them on how they view them. That is why I chose to share my experience on cultural differences between the United States and Ghana. I hope to give people an insight of why Americans behave like Americans and why Ghanaians also behave like Ghanaians.
HIGH SCHOOLS IN GHANA VS HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE U.S
My first time in an American High school was a really tough challenge for me. In a typical high school in Ghana, you have students stay in their classrooms and have their teachers come in and leave after teaching their class. It is very different in the U.S.; instead of teachers coming to students, students rather find their teachers and classrooms. You have to keep track of all your classes and make sure to be in your next class on time to avoid getting a tardy and getting detention when you exceed a limit number of tardies a student is allowed to get. Teachers kept moving fast and speaking so fast I could barely hear them sometimes. I struggled with being forced to participate in conversations in class because participation grades were the highest grades you can get in your class in order to keep your G.P.A high. I was given lots of homework from all my classes, working on presentations with my group members, seeing new faces every week when you get to some of your classes because teachers kept rearranging their classrooms to enable student interaction, and a whole lot of activities. It was very hard for me dealing with all these differences during the first month of school.
Whereas High Schools in Ghana are strict on what students should wear to school and what they shouldn’t wear to school, it is totally different in the U.S. Students decide what to wear to school which I believe helps the students to decide for themselves what really makes them confident and unique and makes them stand out among their peers. It also adds a lot of variety in the school because everyone looks different.
I felt it was very hard at the beginning because I had never experienced all these differences, but as time went on, I managed to finish strong in my first semester. I then began to understand everything around and adjusted myself to the new environment
CLIMATE CHANGES BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES
Being used to the two types of climates in Ghana [which are the rainy season and the dry season], I realized it was different in the states. Starting in March, it gets hotter and the rain slower starts coming. In June, you are in the height of rainy season! In rainy season in Ghana, the plants are so green beautiful. It rains almost everyday! During this time, farmers are able to raise their crops and we have more options available to eat. Dry season starts in November and lasts until February. During the dry season, everything is just like it sounds: DRY! Plants are brown and dying; everything is covered in a coating of dirt. It goes from green and beautiful to brown and dingy.
It also gets colder the more north you are.
In the U.S., they have four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn. When I first came to the states, it was summer. Summer feels like hot! I lived in the northern part of the states, so it didn’t feel very humid. Autumn is when it starts cool down and the leaves change colors and fall from the trees. In the winter it feels so good and cold! I loved the cool temperatures and the snow! Spring is when it warms up again and the flowers bloom and the trees grow new leaves.
While I felt I was a very good at speaking English in my school in Ghana, and scored a higher mark in an English test in school, I found it difficult trying for my American family and friends hear what I was saying because of my accent, as Americans would say. I had to keep repeating every word I said so many times in other for them to “guess” what I was saying, and I had to speak louder whenever I spoke to enable them hear what I was trying to communicate to them. Some of my teachers felt it was really amazing so did the students, while I felt it was the most difficult task on earth repeating yourself over and over again. While an American would use pants for jeans, Ghanaians would rather use pants for an under garment. While a Ghanaian would use the word “boot” for the trunk of a car an American would say “boots” which is a name for a certain kind of shoes worn during fall.
This brings us to my favorite part: FOOD. I really had a great time trying all the different kinds of food! I also enjoyed teaching my host mom how to prepare Ghanaian dishes, which she enjoyed so much most, especially the jollof rice. I really enjoyed the burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, tacos, hot dogs, chicken wings and a whole lot of other different and amazing dishes!
In conclusion, I could go on and on to talk about all my experiences, and how difficult it has been coming back to my home country and readjusting all over again to my culture. It is tough having people not understand what I say sometimes and why I do things differently. This I know would only be possible if everyone was given the chance to go on an exchange program, then I feel people would appreciate