Study Abroad Experiences

Katrina McGann, Ghana

Looking back and reflecting on my time in Ghana, I feel I have grown professionally and personally. I had the opportunity to learn more about how slavery started and how life was for Africans before slavery took many of them to Europe and American. African society was more developed and sophisticated than most people know. There were kings and queens, and gold, and the people cherished family life. I do not recall these details being taught to me in K-12. I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn this information because it will impact me and the way I raise my son while he is in school. I will challenge him to think critically about the things he is being taught and will be sure to talk to him about the things he doesn’t learn in school.

Professionally, I feel so excited about the concept of studying abroad. I can definitely see myself working with International students or study abroad programs upon completion of my degree. I think it is important to stress the value and growth that takes place when students study abroad. I would love to work in a Black Cultural Center or Diversity office to work with students of color and support them at a predominantly white institution. Or I would love to work in an international student services office to help with providing support and resources for international students.

I feel more appreciative of the resources and opportunities I have in the United States as well. I love the strong value on family within the country, and I want to personally look more at my own family and how I can change things in that aspect of my life. I try to evaluate how I use things or what I buy and spend my money on. I want to investigate more of my own spiritual identity and what that means for me. Lastly, I feel like I am more aware of the media’s false portrayal of other countries around the world. I will never forget this trip and the impact it has had on my life. Studying Abroad in Ghana taught me so many things and I can’t speak highly enough about the program or experience.

Benjamin Wendorf, Ghana

Seth with neighbor Selina

I went to Ghana during the last year of my undergraduate degree, at a time when I was unsure of what to do next. I was searching for something that reached out to me. When I came across the announcement for Study Abroad in Ghana, something clicked and I knew I wanted to go abroad. Previously, I had never flown on a plane, not to mention traveled so far from where I grew up, and the most I knew about Ghana at the time was that it was in West Africa. Yet, I knew I wanted to go, and sensed it would impact my life in a positive way.

What an understatement.

My experience in Ghana pulled down all the walls around what I knew, what I thought I knew, and how I thought of myself. I saw metropolises I never knew existed, cultural clashes symbolic of global history, and a country teeming with transition. Houses were being built everywhere, with walls around and barbed wire on top. I learned stark lessons in inequality. My 100 U.S. dollars became nearly 1 million Ghanaian cedis. I learned lessons in global currency. I went to a massive open marketplace in Kumase where social status and transactions rumbled around you like a concert of commerce. I learned striking lessons on being a small part of a big picture.


Most striking of all was how comfortable I felt. The dry season scenery quickly grew familiar to me, with similarities to the Wisconsin northwoods. We met some Ghanaians who frequently became our friends. At about six or seven in the evening, all the cooking fires were started and sent their sweet smells into the air. Every once in a while, since then, when I catch that particular smell somewhere, unexpectedly, I feel like I’m in Ghana for a moment or two.

We traveled to some amazing places: the Aburi Gardens, Kakum National Forest, Kwame Nkrumah’s tomb, Elmina Castle, and began to fill in the gaps of our knowledge and understand of where Ghana came from, and where it was going. Toward the end, we really started to grasp how wrong we had been about the place, and, in my case, I started to realize how much more I wanted to learn. I eventually got a Master’s in history, focusing on post-independent Ghana, and I’m now researching Ghana for my dissertation in the Department of Africology. Going to Ghana didn’t just change my life… it made my life.

Jessica Mirkes, Ethiopia and Ghana

Jessica and child

People have a lot of preconceived, negative notions about Ethiopia. However, I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks there and I can attest that it is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited. Ethiopia is so unique because it was never colonized by any imperial European power, and much of its history and culture has been isolated from outside influences. Their orthodox religion is entirely their own and it was wonderful to visit holy sites and witness religious traditions. The food and coffee are incredibly delicious too! This study abroad experience allowed us to travel throughout much of the country, so we were able to witness the very different landscapes, hear different languages, and meet many people. My trip to Ethiopia holds a very special place in my heart and I highly recommend it to anyone with an adventurous spirit.

My study abroad in Ghana was one of my first travel abroad experiences and it was a wonderful introduction to the world. The country is beautiful, the people are gregarious and kind, the food is delicious, and I learned a lot from our classroom experiences. I appreciated the home stay experience because my host mother was incredibly kind and it also gave all of us a better glimpse into the every day lives of Ghanians. I learned so much about myself during my time in Ghana and it made me appreciate just how big our world is and how much we can learn from it.

Study Abroad, Monique Hassman

Monique Hassman, Ghana

The study abroad program to Ghana, Africa provided an education unachievable within a classroom. The unforgettable landscapes, sights, sounds, tastes, and friendships developed my understanding and knowledge of socio-cultural and political issues. It is an incredible opportunity for any student.