Ghana Preparation Update: Vaccinations and Cultural Research!

So it is about 2 weeks until Steph and I are getting on a plane to Ghana! It’s coming quick! I’ve gotten a few more things done and done a bit more research on the area since the last time I posted an update. First of all, I got my vaccinations out of the way. Specifically, I needed Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and Malaria. I was very happy to find out at the doctor’s office, however, that because I took Typhoid pills before going to Thailand in the summer of 2009 I was still vaccinated for it. Apparently, Typhoid pills are good for 5 years while the shot is only good for 2.For the Malaria pills I was given 2 options, Doxycycline or Malarone. While I have taken Doxy before and had no bad side effects the doctor kept urging me to go with the Malarone because Doxy makes you extremely sensitive to the sun. Of course, Doxy costs about $2 for the entire prescription while Malarone is about $7 per pill! Luckily, my insurance covered it and only cost me $57.88.

Lastly, I had to get the Yellow Fever shot. Pretty painless, actually, and it was injected into my shoulder which is way better than having a needle injected into the inner part of your elbow. It was exciting getting me official certificate of vaccination so that I can enter Africa (without getting proof of a Yellow Fever vaccine you cannot even enter the country!). The visit and my shot cost me $195, but was well worth it to keep my health in tact.

I have also been reading a bit about the culture over in Ghana and have learned some very interesting stuff. First of all, in terms of laundry, they do not have washers and dryers over there so you either have to hand wash your own clothes or pay someone to wash them for you. What I did not realize is that people do not wash other peoples’ undergarments. I’m glad I read that because I have never heard anything like that.

Moreover, I have heard about not being able to eat and greet with the left hand in Middle Eastern countries, but apparently this applies to Ghana, too. In most settings, the use of the left hand is considered disrespectful, so I am going to have to be mindful of that. You also are not supposed to point the bottoms of your feet at anyone, but this rule will be easy for me since that is how it was in Thailand. It can actually be difficult when you are sitting on the floor and want to stretch out your legs! However, you should keep them tucked under you.

In terms of gender, women play a submissive role in Ghanaian culture. Being quiet, supportive, and respectful is vital if you are a woman, and a woman should never criticize a man. This one will be particularly hard for me as I am a bit of a feminist, but planning on immersing myself in the culture of Ghana as much as possible.

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