Olivia Miller

Study Away

Akwaaba Keene State! I am Olivia Miller and I am an anthropology and sociology major with a dance minor. This semester, I am studying abroad at The University of Ghana in West Africa.

I am finishing up my fourth week in Ghana and every day I learn something new about the culture, the people or myself.

Photo contributed by Olivia Miller

Photo contributed by Olivia Miller

I decided to live in a homestay, which is allowing me to gain access to a different cultural viewpoint as opposed to living on the campus.

The Ghanaian family structure is quite different from the nuclear families Americans tend to live with. Family members are in and out all of the time, and I’m having a hard time keeping track of who is related, but I am realizing that it doesn’t matter. Anybody can come and stay at the house whenever they please. My family is extremely accommodating and generous. I even have my own bathroom! The family members I see most often are Mammy, Daddy, Auntie Sena, Dzifa and her three children: Kojo (5), Kokou (3) and Baby Ama (1). I am very happy to be doing a homestay because I can practice the Twi language, cook and play with the kids.

The University of Ghana is one of the top schools in West Africa and I am taking some very interesting courses. This is one of the reasons why I chose to study in Ghana, because there is a wide range of courses offered. I am taking Gender in Archaeology, Popular Culture in Ghana, Culture in Development, Twi Language, Choir and Traditional African Dance.

The dance class is a hot, sweaty, BLAST of a time with approximately 50 dancers, 7 drummers and 10 teaching assistants. I don’t think I have ever had so much fun in my life.

There are no speakers or iPods in the dance studio, just our voices and the drummers wailing on their instruments. The class seems less focused on technique and more focused on feeling the rhythm within and letting your body move naturally to the music while using some basic choreography. This leaves much room for individual dancer style to come through.

I am excited to come back to Keene State and share what I have learned!

Every Ghanaian, no matter what tribe, has a “day name” and most of them are used as middle names. The day names are based on what day of the week you were born.

What is yours?

        Male                                     Female

Monday:          Kwadwo                            Adwoa

Tuesday:         Kwabena                           Abena

Wednesday:  Kwaku                                 Akua

Thursday:      Yaw                                       Yaa

Friday:            Kofi                                        Afia

Saturday:      Kwame                                Ama

Sunday:        Kwasi                                    Akosua

I’m sending you all warmth from Ghana as the snow keeps dumping on New England!

Please check out my blog if you are interested in learning more about the Ghanaian culture!


Olivia Miller can be contacted at olivia.miller@ksc.keene.edu

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