Saturday, May 28, 2011

Expats in Ghana


An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence. The word comes from the Latin term expatriātus from ex ("out of") and patriā the ablative case of patria ("country, fatherland"). This "Latin" term comes from the Greek words "exo" meaning outside, and "patrida" meaning country or fatherland. (www.absoluteastronomy.com)
During the weeks and months that led up to my departure from to US and my move to Ghana, I did much research on expats in Ghana and attempted to connect with other expats who were living in Accra. This was made possible through two expat websites that proved to be invaluable resources. It is on one of these websites that I found my job and also where I found contacts/potential friends in Ghana (one of whom I have already met since my arrival).  It also provided me with the opportunity to ask questions to people who had traveled from afar about living in Ghana. Although I had traveled to Ghana previously, there were things about living in Ghana, and particularly in Accra that I was unfamiliar with.
On Thursday evening, I joined a group of about 20 expats for a small get together at a restaurant/bar. I was excited to meet other expats but it didn’t take long for me to realize that these expats were not the type of people that I wanted to befriend. It was interesting to meet some of the women at the event who were in the country due to their husband’s professional careers. As a result, they do not work and instead spend much time partying and shopping, spending what I would call insane amounts of money. They carry their designer purses, wear 5 inch heels, and show off their diamond wedding rings. I do not have a problem with people who have money and want to indulge due to their wealth, but this was taking it to an extreme. As I talked to a friend I connected with on one of the expat sites about my experiences at this event, she explained to me that this is the reason she does not attend the organized expat events here. She further told me that these women probably live in huge gated homes, equipped with gyms, swimming pools, and other amenities so that they rarely have to leave their homes and interact with the locals besides their maids, nannies, gardeners, etc. Its like they are living in their own little world. It honestly did not occur to me that I would meet expats like this in Ghana.
Tonight I will be attending another expat event. I hope that this one is different and that I am able to meet some people who are more down to earth and possibly even people who are in Ghana because they want to be here, not just because they were sent here due to their jobs. I look forward to meeting some of the other expats that I have been talking to online in the upcoming weeks as they too sound more down to earth than those whom I met last night. 

*This post is not meant to be offensive to any group of people here in Ghana. It is important to realize that not all expats are the way that I have described in this entry. This blog is a way for me to speak my mind and be 100% honest and real. 

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