Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: September Check-In

Several days late, but only because the internet in the student housing I’m staying at completely stopped working last week. I bit the bullet and bought a personal wifi router, which includes free Facebook and Youtube until mid-October, and free internet between midnight and 5am, for about $30 USD.

I’m still raising funds (you can donate on Crowdrise or Patreon), to cover the gap between my financial aid and my program costs (including food, toiletries, and $1,023 in tuition and fees). I would much appreciate your support.

I’ve gotten a flurry of acceptances for poetry I’ve written, as a result of submitting a bunch of work in July. I’ve got poems in the latest issues of Words Dance and Wordgathering, and I’ve had a piece accepted for an upcoming anthology by Zoetic Press, and another by Hermeneutic Chaos. So, that’s all felt pretty nice.

I’m pretty well settled in here, and dealing with the ups and downs of life. I’ve also been grappling with my own loner tendencies and my course load. More details are in the review post, which is below the cut.

 


Goals:

  1. Build up my small press
  2. Consciously love and care for myself
  3. Continue learning and expanding my skill set

Month in Review:

What worked? What didn’t?
1) On hiatus.

2) Getting enough money for food and necessary costs like toilet paper and soap has continued to be a struggle. I feel like I’m not ever gonna be in a stable place, which is exhausting, but I also have to acknowledge that I never thought I could study abroad, and here I am, doing just that. That’s a nice feeling.

I am aware of my own tendency to stick to myself a lot, which has grown more and more pronounced in the last few years. (Much of it since Ferguson 2014, if I’m honest.) I’m trying not to be too standoffish, to socialize with Ghanaians and other international students, and balance that with my need to recharge my batteries and focus on my schoolwork. Having signed up for 18 credits, I have a lot of reading to get through every week, and doing that has been complicated by having to navigate entirely different systems and structures. There’s a saying our program director shared with us: “the system is broken, but people aren’t.” It means to share your troubles and get help navigating what can be a confusing/non-functional system. I don’t tend to reach out for help as much as I probably should, and this is an ongoing problem for me. Here, when I need to know which printer has the coursepack (class readings) I have to ask other students in class or in the What’sApp group. It’s been a bit of a challenge.

I’ve definitely been feeling a bit burned out this week. I found out on Monday that a good friend of mine died on Sunday. They had chronic pain, gluten intolerance, and diabetes, as I do. I am not even sure how I’m going to participate in their memorial from so far away. I wrote a poem, and I may make a video of myself reading it and send it to be shared. It’s been hard to stay motivated, and I actually had a bit of a fight with a guy I met here, because we don’t really see eye to eye on grieving, and it blew up into a really big to-do about other things we don’t really agree on.

That’s part of a larger problem I’m having, which is that some of the men are being very persistent in trying to have a relationship with some of us Americans, including myself. They approach on the street or hang about outside our dorms, and try to get us to go out with them. Some of the guys will even propose in hopes of getting US citizenship. I’ve resorted to wearing a ring on my finger and saying I’m married just to get them to leave me alone. It’s exhausting trying to figure out who’s interested in being friends and who’s just hoping for a relationship, and it’s made me want to stay in even more. Trying not to be too down on myself for not wanting to socialize.

3) I’m taking 3 history courses, 1 soc/poli sci course, a language course, and a dance course: 18 credits, which should translate to about 22-28 credits at PSU. I may have bitten off more than I can chew, to be honest. I’m loving the Traditional Dance class, and learning Twi is also interesting, though everyone speaks it so fast that I have a lot of trouble parsing it outside a classroom setting. My soc/poli sci class — Society, Government, and Politics in Ghana and Africa — is covering some of the same ground as my history courses, and that’s kind of irritating. The reading feels very redundant, and not as academically rigorous as I’m used to. I wouldn’t even take it, but it’s required. The field trips are kind of cool, though.

My history classes are definitely very interesting. I’m taking Colonial Rule and African Response, the Black Diaspora (focused on the Caribbean, primarily), and History of Ghana up to 1800. I like the profs for all of them, though the History of Ghana prof’s style is difficult for me: the assigned readings are her lecture notes, and mostly don’t include many citations. In class, students read the notes aloud, and she highlights the parts we should focus on. It’s not very engaging reading, though she is a very interesting and fun person herself. Overall, I like my classes, even if they’re pretty reading heavy. I blew off homework a lot this week, though.

The field trips have been fun, or at least interesting. We’ve been to the Cape Coast slave castle, toured Accra, did the canopy walk at Kakum National Park, and last week we went to a Dutch plantation from the 1800s. The history is really interesting, and even though it’s felt pretty touristy at a few points, it’s been fun, too.

Planning the Next Month:

What am I working on going forward?
1) On hiatus.

2) I’ve got to start cooking more, and get my sleep back on track — this week has been kind of a mess, for obvious reasons. I am planning to work out my alarms to help me stay on track. I disabled them all, but now that I’ve got my weekly schedule pretty much set, they should probably make a come back, especially meal and snack reminders. I bought some gold stars for motivation, and I’m working out my homework tracking system to help me stay on task. I’m trying also to be gentle with myself, and not stress out too bad. Dance is helping, and my roommate is pretty chill, so that’s good. Just need to make sure I’m eating when I need to.

3) I need to make a study schedule, and find folks to work on stuff with, especially Twi. Language practice is a weak point of mine, so I need to work on this one for sure. I also want to talk over the readings and notes with some other folks in my history classes, especially the denser readings. We have tutorial sessions every week with the TA for each class, and I’m definitely gonna be sure to ask questions in those, but I want to talk in more informal settings, too. I have two papers for my soc class due on Monday (because of the holiday last Monday), so I’m gonna spend time on that, of course. Sunday is also a field trip: we’re touring the city and discussing its colonial history, and visiting a museum, and that should be fun. There are several field trips happening in a few of my classes, in addition to the ones we’ve already gone on, and I’m looking forward to getting out and learning directly, too.

 

 

Get copies of the GHDR Tracker form: Version 1, Version 2.

Support my semester abroad: FundraiserZazzleBookSpoken Word AlbumPatreon

See all of the Groundhog Day Resolutions posts here.

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