(Editor's Note: Amanda Sandlin is a 20-year-old junior journalism major at Rider University, and a previous Times News intern. A Tamaqua resident, she is studying and volunteering in Accra, Ghana, located in western Africa, for one semester. Ghana gained independence from British rule in 1957, and now is a constitutional democracy. It is classified as a third world country and a developing nation. Amanda's columns will appear periodically on Saturdays in The TIMES NEWS during her stay in Ghana.)
From the moment I stepped onto this continent, I had that warm-fuzzy kind of feeling. And it wasn't just from the temperature change. I might be living in a poor city lacking infrastructure, but the culture and people make up for any hardships.
Accra, Ghana, is a rather slow-paced place, full of culture and life. In this city there is no such thing as a cool breeze, a schedule, or an unfriendly face.
My time here has helped me to realize first, how blessed I am, and second, that even though I'm submersed in another culture, I surprisingly have much in common with the people of Ghana.
My trip thus far has been filled with both ups and downs.
There have been relaxing day-trips to the beach.
Living in a house with two other Americans, we tend to stick together. On our first weekend we opted to spend some time at Labadi Beach.
Most of our day we were bombarded with traders selling things like necklaces, African fabrics or wood carvings, but the afternoon didn't disappoint.
The feeling of the ocean was something familiar, and it brought a much-needed relief from Ghana's 90-plus degree climate.
There have been days of excruciating heat and unruly school kids.
I work at Anani Memorial International, a French-English primary school in the heart of a Muslim slum in Accra. My accent makes it hard for the children to understand me at times, and they just love to make fun of Americans' "nasally tones."
But the work is rewarding because the kids are eager to learn. In class, participation is anything but lacking. At the chance to answer a question, they will all jump out of their chairs yelling "Madam! Madam!" begging to be called on.
And last but not least, there have been the biggest bugs I've ever seen.
On our very first night Ruth yelled to me from the kitchen. I sprinted in and stopped dead in my tracks. On her big toe was a giant cockroach, about the size of her big toe. And these little guys are everywhere. Showering every night is its own adventure.
I'm beginning to be able to navigate the burnt-orange, dirt roads in my neighborhood of East Legon, and I can hold a small conversation in Twi, the native language of Accra. I might not yet be considered a local, but for now, I am happily soaking in all that I can about this interesting country.
Another day, another adventure. Always.