The campus in general is huge! Although I am technically located on campus, my walk is similar in time to the one I made every day last year to school, from off-campus. I imagine that once I begin to truly feel settled, I will really enjoy the walk from my hostel to my classes each day. Between the main part of campus and my dorm, in addition to the market and the grocery store, there are several dormitories, a soccer field (not of grass, but of very red-brown dirt), basketball courts (shaped slightly differently than American courts), other sports fields (possibly some tennis courts), a cafeteria and a few campus buildings.
This past week, we also spent several stressful days going through registration and several orientations. Although the orientation was pretty standard—the essentials about being a foreign student in Ghana, including health and safety, the registration was incredibly complicated. It took nearly a full day to simply get all of the students in our group registered with the school. And that was the easy part. After registering with the school, each student then registers separately with the different departments. For regular students, the process is relatively straight forward, but for special admissions students like myself it was a little overwhelming. Between all of the special rules for special admissions students, the fact that the majority of classes that I had approved weren’t offered and the fact that there were multiple departments that I wanted to register with, it was a long and tiring couple of days. Although it truly seems to work for them, I am certainly happy to be through with that part of the experience.
I also find it fascinating how the classes work here. For some of the departments, the times and locations weren’t posted until the Friday before classes started and for others they weren’t posted until early this week. As classes were supposed to start on Monday, this really gave us true insight into how relaxed the culture is here. We were also told by our advisers not to expect the lecturers to necessarily even show up for class this week. As most of the Ghanaian students are still moving and getting registered, full classes don’t really start until next week. Some departments aren’t even holding registration until next week.
I was pleasantly surprised to have my lecturers show up for each class period and classes were very similar to our first week at Iowa, where often there won’t be a true lecture for the first class, but just a basic introduction to the topics that will be studied and giving the students a syllabus. However, in discussing the syllabus and required readings, there was one key difference that stuck out. Because their book store couldn’t accommodate orders for the entire student body, nor could many afford to purchase all of the books, courses operate primarily out of course packs. I guess it isn’t that different, but I found the reasoning interesting.