Ghana, Thailand, or India?

Oct 26th, 2008, 01:53 PM
  #1  
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Ghana, Thailand, or India?

This is from my post on the Africa forum...it was recommended that I also post it here.


I'm trying to decide whether to spend a semester studying abroad in Ghana (Legos), Thailand (Bangkok), or India (Hyderabad). I've done endless hours of research trying to narrow it down to just one, but I almost feel like researching makes it even harder -- they all look so great. I was hoping that someone on here had visited these countries before and could help me out -- any information would be great.

......

From what I can tell, the academics are very poor in Ghana -- therefore the real "learning" comes from the culture and the contrast to modern life (I'm from the US, by the way).

I don't know much about the quality of education at the other two places, but I assume they're at least slightly better.

I guess I want to be as far away from "touristy" crap as possible, which is basically why I want to stay far away from Europe. I have a feeling Bangkok can be fairly touristy as well, which is why that may be ranked last (of the three) in my mind. The pictures of the Thailand countryside look amazing, though, and Thai food is my favorite kind of food period.

The possibility of working at an orphanage in Ghana appeals to me, and the possibility of taking yoga or sitar classes in India also highly appeals to me. There are definitely pros and cons of all countries which is why I'm looking for personal advice or experiences.
nowigotworry is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 02:34 PM
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Hands down, Ghana. Over on the Africa forum, I've written quite a bit on Ghana and even helped a Canadian family, on the forum, plan a trip there. We were in contact, for many months, by personal e-mail right up until they were ready to leave.

When they got home, they wrote a story about their experience. You can go to travelpod.com and type in," hooktravellers" and read their very extensive story.

I was in Ghana 2003/2004 and 2004/2005, but I've kind of had a connection with the culture since way back in my elementary school days, back in the 60s, and several friends of mine and of my parents have been traveling there since the 70s.

I love Thailand, as I'm a regular in this forum and have been going there 1-2 times a year for a decade now. But, I'd still pick Ghana. By the way, where is Legos (Ghana). When I saw that, the first thing that came to mind was Lagos, as in Nigeria. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 02:43 PM
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Sorry, that was a typo -- it's actually in Legon, just outside of Accra.
nowigotworry is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 02:45 PM
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And thanks for the information, by the way. Ghana was originally my first choice and your comments help to reinforce that. I'd like to weigh some opinions on Hyderabad/India in general before I make a final decision, though.
nowigotworry is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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There's a lot of difference between doing yoga and sitar classes in Hyderabad and volunteering in an orphanage in Ghana.

One is about you - the other is about them.

Kinda different mind-set, eh? Only you know where you're at. Gonna get your hands dirty, or get your mind clean?

If I were you I'd be making my decision based on that salient piece of information rather than the opinions of strangers in here. Follow your intutition and do what you know you're going to do. Jump.

dogster is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 03:07 PM
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Just remember that what you might lack academically, you will make up for 10 times over, culturally. Plus, you'll only be gone a semester and you can believe that what you gain there will be far more than just academic knowledge.

One of my best friends, went off to Nigeria, a REALLY rough country, for a whole, university school year back around 1976. She kind of wrote her own education abroad program as everyone back then was going off to Europe to study.

Her experience was hard, for example washing all of her clothes, for a year, in the river and having frequent electrical blackouts. But her experience was amazing and she was a changed person when she returned. We still talk about it.

While she was there, at university, she had a roommate, who's family lived in Ghana. Since it was impossible for my friend to fly home to California during the Christmas break, her roommate invited her to come home with her to Ghana. It's only a 45 minute flight from Lagos to Accra.

My friend still talks of her great experience of Ghana and how much she loved it and although she loved her Nigerian experience, she cried when she had to leave Ghana and go back to school in Nigeria. Her school was fine, it was just that day-to-day life was MUCH harder in Nigeria.

At the end of her year, on her way home to our city in L.A. County, she dropped by to visit me in Europe (I used rent a place, annually, and spend the entire summers in Scandinavia). So, she just routed herself home via the city I was living in.

When I went to get her at the airport, it was like talking to a different person. Still the same great person, just very different.

All year, while she was away, we had sent cassette letters to each other. I came up with the idea. She took a small recorder with her and recorded her letters along with the sounds of the place and then would send them to me. I'd answer her letters, on cassette, and send her the sounds from home along with familiar voices. It was WAY cheaper than calling and a LOT easier as one back then would have to wait for hours, possibly days to get a phone connection to or from Africa. We had to be creative back in the "Old School" days. Smiles.

If you do select Ghana, I really hope you do a trip report. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 05:38 PM
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Correction, "whose", not "who's". I must be asleep today. Smiles. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 06:11 PM
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I remember when my daughter was trying to choose study aboad programs; Italy- which she had always thought she'd love, or India-which had an interesting program involving lots of travel and varied cultural and academic events.

I suggested that she think about which she could most easily do on her own, and do the other.

She chose India of course, and had a real "once in a lifetime" experience.

Italy awaits!
lcuy is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 08:04 PM
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i guess it would depend largely on what you were to study and where there were some "experts" to assist you in learning as much as you could about the subjects...

it strikes me that india and thailand would be the two most probable candidates...
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 10:08 PM
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Curious...Why would India and Thailand be the two most probable candidates?

I look at it this way...how many opportunities will the poster, a young person, get to spend a semester in Africa or to travel to Africa? How many adults travel to Africa? They don't know what they're missing until they've been.
Africa can be very mesmerizing and addictive. I read what's written in various Africa forums and those folks are hooked.
I've taken 4 trips to Africa and am really glad for the experiences that I had. The first two trips I took, solo when I was in my mid twenties. And many of my friends my age then took trips around Africa at that age,too...whether it be for university studies, building schools in villages (Togo in the mid-70s), volunteering in orphanages, or just going to absorb and learn about the culture and vast history.

I think it's great that a young person would be adventurous and broad-minded enough to consider Ghana. Plus, Ghana is considered Africa 101. It has a very good infrastructure and is easier than many other African countries.

It probably won't be difficult for her to plan a trip to Thailand at some point in her life and probably not difficult to get to India. It's always been more difficult and expensive to get to West Africa which is why I would do it now. I don't see it getting any cheaper in the future. Plus, being young and doing it adds a plus. Happy Travels!

Guenmai is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 10:26 PM
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Lcuy...I agree with your way of thinking. Go for a challenge and something different...something that you might not have a chance to do when you get older due to other responsibilites. Some things come around only once in a lifetime.

Just week before last, a lifelong friend and I were talking about when she was off building a school, in a village, in Togo in the mid 70s. We were both away at the same university back then. She took a whole summer to go off to Togo and get up at the crack of dawn to work at building a school. I asked about her program, still in existence, since a friend, recently e-mailed me, and wants to send his teenager on a program somewhere to open his eyes to a world bigger than their backyard, as the saying goes.
I grew up around adventurous friends/families who did that kind of stuff back when many folks thought it was craziness and wouldn't let their kids go off to summer camp. I'm very grateful that I was allowed to have the experiences that I did. It enables one, at a young age, to see the world in a whole different light. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 10:43 PM
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Nowigotworry...You should also read the comments on Ghana over on tripadvisor.com and lonelyplanet.com. When I was planning my trip to Ghana, there were so many young people on lonelyplanet.com that had either been to or were reporting from Ghana. It's not such a foreign or unusual place to travel to for young people from other countries.

On tripadvisor.com, week before last, an American parent, I think it was, was asking about sending her high school aged daughter, to Ghana, on an exchange program. She said her daughter really wants to go.

I know that AFS (American Field Service of New York), the oldest and largest exchange student program in the U.S. has a program in Ghana, South Africa, and Egypt...places that were not on the list back in the 70s and probably 80s,too. Some of the U.S. programs have finally opened up the vast world to students. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 11:05 PM
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Forgot to add the website to AFS is "afs.org", if you want to read up more on Ghana and young people who have gone. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 27th, 2008, 10:40 AM
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Correction: The parent who was asking about sending her teenaged daughter to Ghana, on an exchange program, was on loneleyplanet.com, not tripadvisor.com. If you want to read the comment,it's under the thread, "Ghana for teens", originally posted 18-Aug-2008. She was inquiring about sending her daughter on AFS. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 27th, 2008, 11:02 AM
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i picked those two countries based on where i thought there was a greater educational base, rather than on good works projects..

the writer expressed intrest in studies abroad...
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 27th, 2008, 12:05 PM
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Thanks everyone -- I'm in the process of taking a look at the websites and such. And while I AM interested in studying abroad, I doubt it will be the actually studying or classes that I remember most -- therefore, while education is important, I think the overall experience is what's most important for me.
nowigotworry is offline  
Oct 27th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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Bob,it's a "study" abroad program, so the focus is on "studies". If you pull up the info on afs.org, for example, there is info explaining the educational system in Ghana.

AFS, for example, would not be sending high school kids off, from the U.S. to any country in the world, for a semester without educating them or thinking that they wouldn't be going into a good educational base, as you put it. Different doesn't automatically equate with ,"not good". They have to go to school. They're not there for just projects. And with the state of education in the States these days, they might do better going off into another educational system to be exposed to something different.

As for the folks, that I've known, who've gone on study abroad programs to Ghana, and other West African countries, they might not have been totally on a "western" interpretation of what one is to study, but what they did study and learn there, at the university level, they never would have learned had they stayed home.

It's ALL a learning process. The friend who went off to Nigeria, for an entire university year, came back with a high level of knowledge in African literature, history, history of the diaspora, politics, new languages studied and learned, and a host of other subjects that she would not have gotten had she been home that year under her western university system. It really enhanced her general academic knowledge. And it ,in no way, hindered her or anyone else who went off to study there in their professions. They all became either teachers, professors, lawyers,doctors, or professionals in the business field. Plus, her very good university, here in California, approved her course of study in Nigeria.

As for schools in India, I don't know how they are. But, as for schools in Thailand, I've talked with ex-pats, in Bangkok, who went to school there from when they were young all the way up, and they went to international school. I asked why they didn't go to Thai school and was told because as foreigners they weren't allowed to, plus had they been allowed to they wouldn't have because, in other words, they didn't have such a great educational base.

That's what I was told, just last year by someone who's an ex-pat adult, but grew up there. So, why Thai schools would be placed above Ghanaian schools just puzzled me going by what I've been told of Thai schools. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 27th, 2008, 01:04 PM
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Nowigotworry...Good luck to you and yes, look at the overall "experience" of going abroad as a student. You're VERY fortunate to have this opportunity.

I've personally been in your shoes and went abroad as a student, for a summer program so no formal schooling was held during summer. However, for a good decade of summers, I studied through private educational programs while abroad. I took advantage of the opportunity of being abroad and studied although I didn't have to since my programs were NOT connected to my university here in L.A. But, what I gained from the programs that I selected was invaluable and helped a lot when I'd come home and then back to university. I had a broader knowledge of many subjects. Plus, a lot of "life" and "cultural" experience at a young age. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Oct 27th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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Much as I love the country if you "want to be as far away from the touristy crap as possible " don't go to Thailand.

If you want to learn about yourself and gain an insight into another culture go to Ghana.

As for the academic standards in these countries, this is not where you should expect the real learning to come from!

Whereever you choose make the most of every second you are there. it is a fantastic opportunity.
crellston is offline  
Oct 27th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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Two thumbs way up! Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  

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