Navigating Challenges as a Foreign Student in Ghana

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By Celestina Sinoha Cheba

In a world that encourages cross-cultural exchange and exploration, the story of my journey as a 22-year-old foreign university student in Ghana is a testament to the trials and triumphs of international travel, especially in Africa. In my case, these were especially difficult giving that the problems came from family and friends, the two areas that a stranger in a foreign land would expect comfort and support from.

You Can’t Always Count on Family

I embarked on a life-changing adventure to study in Ghana in 2020 full of excitement, and with expectations of peace, fun, and discovery. Less than three months after arriving in Accra from my home capital of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, I was hit by my first disappointment. It came from family. This led the series of challenging experiences that tested my resilience. Living with a relative was my mother’s initial plan. I was directed to a cousin who, in theory, should have given me comfort and guidance in this unknown territory. However, reality painted a different picture. My cousin’s unwelcoming and hostile attitude made my life unbearable. This unexpected obstacle forced me to make a difficult decision: look for a new home and seek my independence.

Guadalupe, another Equatorial Guinean traveler I met, faced a similar ordeal. In her case, after arriving from home to study in Ghana, she also had the surprise of her life when her family members treated her poorly. It must have been challenging for her to finally open up to her father back home about it. Her father, with great sadness, had to take her out of there and find a solution so that his daughter could be comfortable.

Making the decision to live alone was very difficult for me, given my limited knowledge of the country, and Accra, the city I lived in, and given the fact that I had not mastered English or any of the local languages. It was not easy, but slowly, I began to socialize with other people, and soon, I began to tackle simple tasks such as shopping and asking for directions, two things that used to be my daily challenges. I did not however let these difficulties deter me from my educational pursuit.

Be Careful of The Friends You Make

Another major challenge of being a young female foreign student in Ghana living in Accra is making and sustaining good friends. After leaving my cousin’s house, I became acquainted with two girls who I thought had my back. I devoted myself to them, hoping I will receive the same in return. Within months, the friendship had to end due to what can best be described as a misunderstanding: my friends were not happy with other new friends that I was making, so they tried to destroy my other relationships. They called me names and brought a wedge between me and our mutual friends. Friends who were supposed to give me strength betrayed me. These were sad times. At one point, I was on the verge of packing and leaving back to Malabo, but something kept me from giving up.

Aisha, another Ivorien traveler I met told me she faced a similar ordeal. In her case, it was unfortunate that her initial living arrangement with a person who claimed to be her friend broke down, but instead of giving up, she commendably sought and secured a job and a place to live on her own.

Starting Anew Can Be a Good Thing

Starting anew can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity for personal growth and independence. In my case, when I least expected it, the elements brought an angel to come to my aid. She was in the person of Petra. After I became friends with Petra, my life began to really take off. Her support has enabled me to stand today. Petra, a fellow EquatoGuinean, began to take care of me, helping me with the language and getting around in the Ghanaian capital.

In spite of some miscommunications and misinterpretations occurring here and there, I managed to navigate and did not give up. I faced each situation with an open heart and a willingness to learn. These interactions provided valuable lessons in intercultural communication, fostering a deeper appreciation of Ghana’s diverse society.

Despite the numerous challenges I faced, or maybe because of them, I have become stronger and wiser. For instance, by accident, I discovered gobe (gari and beans) which has today become one of my favorite meals. My journey in Ghana may have been marked by the blows I received, but I have managed to pursue my academic dreams and also gained a deeper understanding of the world around me and myself.

Based on my experiences, I have become very self-reliant. I would advise people not to put all their trust in third parties, especially the promises of family members. People should be more careful when interacting with those around them, and they must work harder at choosing the right friends.

In The End, It All Works Out

I hope my story serves as a caution and an inspiration to other foreign students who may find themselves in similar circumstances, highlighting the importance of perseverance, cultural sensitivity and the courage to leave the comfort zone. Through my experiences, I have not only grown academically but also as an individual, demonstrating that adversity can be a springboard to personal growth and success.

Finally, always remember that your embassy (or high commission) is your first point of call whenever you need help in a foreign country. EquatoGuineans in distress in Ghana may call the embassy in Accra on +233 24 447 5166.

At the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in Accra

11 thoughts on “Navigating Challenges as a Foreign Student in Ghana

  1. As estuden in Accra they are a lot challenges and difficulties . We just have to trust the process , socializing with people, manage our life and trying our best to do what we came to do here as students .

  2. I can relate, such experiences as u have already said, they teach us lifetime lessons and make us become better version of ourselves as a person and stronger, therefore consistency and the idea of not giving up must be key elements to keep us going.

  3. some people after an experience like that just decide to give up on everything and fall into a deep depression, life isn’t always like how we want it to be some movies are not just movies they’re true-life experiences and seen a young girl not given up on everything. specialy on people after an experience like that, its actually insparing keep in mind that God is watching and things will go for the better much love from Russia

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