Since my first visit to Ghana during the summer of 2008, I have had a huge passion for Ghana and a burning desire to move here permanently. Preparing for this life-changing move, I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. I knew that things would be much different living in Ghana and I expected that there would be unexpected challenges that would arise as time went on.
I have been here in Ghana for one and a half months now and there have indeed been challenges, both challenges that were anticipated as well as unanticipated ones. I have realized so much living here, things that I could not realize without being here and experiencing life here myself. But I have lived in Ghana before, you say. I know I have visited Ghana many times but living here and trying to start a life here is so beyond different from visiting. When I come and visit Ghana, things are different, I spend my days volunteering, I don’t have to worry about things that one has to worry about when they actually live here, I don’t have to think about the long term, and I stay in the village, not in the city. Life in the city is different. Accra is beyond different from Wegbe. Its like two different worlds.
I know life isn’t easy in the US but life really isn’t easy here. Its hard living as an expat in a foreign country regardless of how much you love the country. Its difficult not having the luxuries we take for granted back home. Its difficult not having a car, not having a job, and just renting a bedroom in a house occupied by others.
As a recent college graduate, it is difficult to find a decent paying job here. The jobs I want, the jobs that pay the American salaries require years of experience, years of experience that I don’t yet have. The life I want to live here is not one of luxury however, I do want to live a life of comfort. That just isn’t possible in my current situation. It is not possible to live that life on the average Ghanaian salary. It is not fair to me to sacrifice my happiness, my health, and myself to work a job where I do not receive anywhere near fair compensation and live a life that I am not happy with. Yes, I know jobs are hard to find and I need to give it time but I have come to the realization that the jobs that I am qualified for and am being offered here are jobs that are not on the level that I want. I need the work experience, experience I can gain in the US while living a more comfortable life. Yes, I know it won’t be easy in the US either but I know that I have more opportunities there. I know that I will be able to find a job where I will be much more fairly compensated than I would be here at this point in my life. I know that one day, maybe in a few years, maybe in 10 years, it might be the right time in my life to come back and live in Ghana but I am also strong enough to realize that that time is not now.
I have come to realize why the expats that I wrote about during my first days here live the way that they do. Its hard to live the Ghanaian life style permanently. I can deal with it when I visit but its difficult to adjust it permanently. I don’t want to live the same life that some of these expats are living but I would like to live a more comfortable life here in Ghana. Its nice to have some of one’s comforts and luxuries from home. Its nice to have hot water once in awhile, to have an indoor kitchen, to not have to worry about the lights and fans going off because you have a generator, to always have running water because you have a Polytank, to not have to worry about mosquitoes, to have security guards, to have a vehicle, and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I love the life here, I love the simplicity, I love Ghana but its difficult to live the average Ghanaian life style.
So, I have taken a bold step. I have made one of the most difficult decisions of my life. A decision that is weighing hard on my heart but a decision that I know is the right one. I am coming home. I am spending another 2.5 weeks in Ghana and will be home towards the end of the month. I know that this is the not end of my relationship with this country and that I will be back many times…maybe even to live permanently (for real) one day when the time is right.