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a picture of the monument in Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana

This past week at Dartmouth, decisions for the 2024-2025 foreign study and exchange programs were released. I did not apply for any programs this year since I plan to be at Dartmouth all three terms of my senior year, but some of my freshman and sophomore friends will be going on some study abroad programs next year. After going on the Ghana Foreign Study Program (FSP) for the African and African-American Studies (AAAS) department, I was especially excited to hear that two of my friends in the class of 2026 will also be going on the AAAS FSP in Ghana. Talking with them about what to expect from the program made me remember all the great memories and lessons I made and learned from my study abroad experience.

A picture of a building on the University of Ghana campus

First and foremost, my study abroad experience was the main reason I decided to pursue a major in AAAS, which has been an incredibly valuable part of my academic journey at Dartmouth. Because AAAS classes are often cross-listed with other departments (a cross-listed course is a single course offered by two or more undergraduate departments or programs), I've been able to explore so many departments such as comparative literature, women, gender and sexuality studies, sociology, government, and history—the true liberal arts experience. 

During my study abroad, my classmates and I were also able to connect with two new professors at the University of Ghana. Learning from them in class, finding out about their interests and research, and being able to have an academic experience in the context of a different university in a different country was truly an honor. They were also incredibly kind and personable, inviting us to dinners, celebrating birthdays with us, going on field trips with us and generally contributing to our cultural immersion.

students on the AAAS Accra FSP on a field trip for their history class

My study abroad experience also reminded me of the importance of connecting lessons learned in the classroom with the real world. In Ghana, through various field trips, excursions, seminars and museum visits, I was constantly able to see the real manifestations of concepts learned in class. When we read a book about wells used for bathing and the castles within which enslaved persons were held during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, we actually visited a town in which several of these wells were located and the site of these castles. When we learned how local small-business owners interact with the global economic system, we met with the owner of a local textile business to hear about her experiences exporting her products. Most importantly, I made an amazing group of friends during my study abroad, made some unforgettable memories and explored a new country and culture. 

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