I am an International Development and International Relations student, with a keen interest in the politics of development. As part of my degree, I spent a semester studying abroad in Ghana.
Despite coming from Leeds originally, I decided to stay and study at the University. People normally ask me why I chose to stay close to home for university; but they’re asking the wrong question. I stayed in Leeds not because of its proximity to my house, but because of the opportunity to live abroad in a developing country (Ghana).
I’ve been to developing countries before, even Ghana, but always with a charitable organisation and only for five weeks at a time. Coming to Ghana for the semester as a student has changed my perspective on the country greatly compared to how I viewed it when I came here three years ago with my school, and has also allowed me to experience life in Africa far more independently.
Being in Ghana as a student also allows you the freedom to travel independently, but knowing that there is support, in the form of the University, and that you are not entirely alone. Studying abroad for a semester is also a brilliant opportunity because it allows you to study abroad without having to add an extra year to your course.
As part of one of many modules at the University of Ghana, Rural Development Experience, we went to the Volta Region and conducted focus groups with a village in order to ascertain the impact of a charity that had recently finished a project there. I also took part in the Ghana International Model United Nations, which was an interesting experience mainly because of organisational difficulties, and because of the chance it gave to hear a variety of different perspectives about political issues, such as development, from African nationals.
I would recommend anyone with an interest or looking to study International Development to study abroad in Ghana because it’s such a great chance to gain experience in the field, and gain new perspectives on the country as opposed to if you came specifically as a charity worker or as a traveller.
For me, this experience hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve learnt far more about myself, my perspectives on development, and how I want to go about my career in politics or development in the future than I had bargained for, and for that, I’m so grateful that I’ve had this opportunity.