Having never traveled to any African country before, I immediately jumped at the chance to spend a semester in Ghana through NYU. Every expectation I had for the program was blown out of the water. NYU's Office of Global Programs did a fantastic job of ensuring we were ready for our departure by hosting orientations, events, and connecting us with students who previously studied abroad in Ghana. Additionally, my travel nurse at the NYU Health Center answered all of my questions regarding vaccines and malaria medication.
The NYU Accra staff was equally incredible; everyone was approachable, knowledgeable, and helpful. Their investment in our experiences and well-being was obvious, as they often solicited feedback, checked in with us, and went above & beyond in ensuring that we had all the resources we needed for a successful semester. Provisions included nightly dinner Monday–Friday, a fully-stocked fridge and pantry, cleaning services for our houses (which were beautiful), and van service to the University of Ghana, among others.
We lived in 4 identical houses on a compound, which was monitored by a very kind security staff. The girls I lived with became my best friends in the program and some of my best friends at college in general. The houses are spacious, air-conditioned, and equipped with Wi-Fi.
Because NYU Accra is a smaller program (10-25 students a semester), NYU organizes several trips throughout the semester, including visits to Cape Coast, a rural village, and Kumasi. These trips are meticulously planned and executed beautifully. They included several excursions, many of which were to notable locations like Kakum National Park or Elmina Castle. Other visits, such as the homestay in a rural village, were experiences unique to NYU Accra because of the local staff's connections and outreach.
Academically, I really enjoyed my semester abroad. The NYU Accra academic center is a short walk from our housing facility, so getting to class was never an issue. I took 3 courses through NYU, but my favorite class was my Traditional African Drumming class at the University of Ghana. I also really enjoyed Globalization and the Developing World. My internship at a junior high school was a beneficial experience as well.
I was also able to visit São Tomé over spring break – as I was based in Accra, the flight was only about 2 hours. Many of my other friends went to Europe because of Ghana's proximity to several European countries. Other trips I took included Mole National Park and Wli Falls. Accra is also a particularly fun city on weekends – the nightlife is great! Another unique aspect of NYU Accra is the connection to local seamstresses, who can make any custom article of clothing you may want. Fabric can be purchased from them or at any of the numerous markets throughout Ghana.
I would advise bringing some American gift items for any hosts or other people you may meet. Do not bother bringing much insect repellent – the repellent sold in Ghana works much better than what I brought from the States. Make sure to pack and wear sunscreen. Most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity you're given, and seek out more on your own! There is so much to do and see – don't miss any of it.