Ghana 2012-2013
My name is Alysa Michelle Meisterling. In September 2012, I will be traveling to Ghana, Africa for five months, where I will be teaching a range of subjects for kids ages 6-12. This is the first chapter of my beautiful adventure. Read More About Alysa →

7 weeks until my new beginning

It’s hard to believe Ghana is so close. In just 7 weeks, I’ll be packing up and flying to the other side of the world. I have been waiting for an opportunity such as this for as long as I can remember; an opportunity to learn, to grow, to see the world. I’ll be spending 19 weeks in a country, with a new lifestyle and with a kind of people I have never known. Sometimes I have to remind myself just why I’m doing this.. So much can happen. There is so much room for growth.

Two weeks ago, I walked into the Vanderbilt Travel Health Clinic to be given immunizations for Polio, Typhoids and Yellow Fever. This was followed with being given two prescriptions for Malaria and traveler’s diarrhea. I had three choices for my Malaria pills. The first one I was told was 100% free of any side effects. Well that’s good news. The catch: They cost $5 a pill. I needed at least 130. Okay, next option. My second option was a reasonable price. I take one pill a week, but the side effects consisted of hallucinations and nightmares... Okay, and my third option? The third and chosen choice was a pill I need to take once a day, starting 2 days before I leave and 28 days after. The side effect: extreme sensitivity to the sun.. As if I wasn’t already concerned about Africa’s heat to begin with, I now have a daily pill to ensure that I fear the sun at all times. The total cost of all shots and prescriptions was $400. This was after the fact that the other necessary immunizations and vaccinations I had already taken care of as a child (Thank you, Mother).

I need mosquito nets to put above me as I sleep. I get internet maybe a few hours a day (and this is only due to the fact that the school I’m teaching at is still relatively new). I should have a working shower, however I am never allowed to drink or swallow their water, and there could potentially be times when I may have to bathe myself from a bucket. Fair enough. I am left handed, and I will have to be very aware of when to use my right hand, especially for eating. When eating from the same plate of food as others, shaking another’s hand, or receiving gifts, I must always use my right hand. It is considered offensive and rude to use my left since Ghanians specifically use their left hands for sanitary purposes. That is going to be an adventure in itself.

I will be working at the Golden Gate Secondary School, located outside the small town of Shama Junction in the Western Region of Ghana, working with teenagers five days a week. The school begins with worship at 7:40. Classes start at 7:50 and last until about 3:30 in the afternoon. I have been warned to bring earplugs because roosters are known to start their morning routine as early as 3:30am (It’s a good thing I’m a deep sleeper...)

I’m about 30 minutes outside of Takoradi, the regional capital. I shall be able to go their weekly, to pull money from my account, use the internet, buy fresh fruit and visit fellow volunteers, who are teaching in other communities.

Flight is booked. Insurance has been purchased. Shots and prescriptions have been given. Visa is on its way.

I get to Ghana on September 16th and will be there until January 29th. 19 weeks. No Thanksgiving or Christmas with the family. No trips home. I am in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Please keep following me as I get closer to this adventure. The packing and last minute details, feelings, plans, and finally the trip itself are all ahead. Stay tuned, my dears xxx

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