Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Adapting to host homes and a new culture

What is it like living in a host home and immersing yourself in a totally new culture?

Hello my name is Jay and I arrived in Navrongo 9 weeks ago. As its now my 10th week on my volunteer placement I wanted to share some of my experiences from living with a host family and help to give a sense of what to expect from life in a host home for anyone who is thinking about it in the future. 

I think it's important that I clarify at the beginning that life in a host home is a different  and unique experience for every individual. Everything I talk about in my blog is purely my own opinion and experience. 

This is my first ever experience living with a host family so I didn't really know what to expect. In fact there was a part of me that was nervous knowing that I would be living with a family that I had never met as well as having to share a room with my counterpart Ekow who I had only met a few days before. I have never
Ekow & I at a visit to
 Tono Dam. Photo credit:
Cameron Johnson
shared a room with anyone before either. Everything that I was about to go through was brand new to me. 

Our host parents arrived at the police station shortly after we first arrived in the town.   Right from the start they were warm and welcoming towards Ekow and I which put my nerves at ease. After we arrived at the house we were shown to our room where we dumped our suitcases off and then proceeded to the living room. We spent the next hour just chatting to our host parents getting to know each other. They seemed interested about where I was from in the UK and how I was finding Africa thus far. They reassured us that we were just to treat the house like it was our own home. This made me feel very welcome into the family and I knew I was going to enjoy myself in this house. 

My host parents even now are still very caring towards my well being and security. I had to explain to them that I would not be able to take any Pepe or pepper within my meals as I'm not great with spicy food. Even
now they still do not include any of this in my evening meals which I think is really courteous of them. I must say the large portions of meals we are given each night I am also really impressed with.
My bedroom. Photo credit: Jay Seymour

When it comes to facilities, I have been really lucky. We have a really good shower that is actually quite powerful. Of course I wasn't expecting any hot water to come pouring out but you eventually get used to having the cold showers. 

Whilst being here in Navrongo I have had to adapt to some culture differences. I think the main difference between here and back in the UK is how many more people are religious in Ghana and they take their religion very seriously. As much as I respect this, it can be quite overwhelming at times when trying to justify your reasons for not following a religion yourself. 

Anther adaption that we have to make in this the new environment is the local foods and drink. For me personally I knew this wasn't going to be a massive issue as I am able to enjoy most foods from around the world. I have come to love some of the dishes that my host family have served up for me. TZ  with goat and Fried Yam with soup are my two favourite and I always look forward to the evenings where we have these two meals. Spice has always been a problem with me growing up. This set me back a bit with some of the
Our team visit to Church.
Photo credit: Katey Forster
food as it is traditional for the meals to be filled with Pepe. However my host family have been very considerate of this issue and stopped putting spice in my evening meals. I have discovered a love for the local hot chocolate that I consume day and night during meals and before I go to bed. It is much more delicious than the hot chocolate I would have back home. 

The people of Navrongo are incredibly friendly people to be around. Wherever I go I will get a 'Hello' and a 'good morning' every single day. Children are always fascinated to see us UK volunteers when we walk or cycle through town.mi assume that a lot of them are quite new to seeing a white person. We are often referred to as 'fella fella' by the locals which means white man. It make me feel like a celebrity. You also realise instantly what a minority you are. It's amazing that being a white person you are now the odd one in the town which is a feeling I have never experienced. 

Last but not least I think the weather has been the biggest challenge of living in Ghana. Most days temperatures can hit up to 38-40 degrees which is really hard to bear on a daily basis. Fortunately this problem isn't too bad when we are working inside the office as we have fans. Days where we head into the communities become more difficult and we have to drink a lot of water consistently to cool ourselves down. 

I am now looking forward to spending my last week in Navrongo. I can already tell that saying goodbye to my amazing host family will be heartbreaking but I will be coming back for a visit in the near future. Living in a host home has been such a great experience and I would love to do it again some day.

Author: Jay Seymour

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