Tuesday, January 20, 2009

FRUSTRATED! Advice welcome.

Okay, so I keep telling people there are pluses and minuses to staying with my family here in Ghana. I love them to death, and they have helped me in so many ways with this project, especially in 2007 when I was here on the Northwestern summer grant. But lately, I have been running into conflicts with them, concerning my goings out and my comings in.

I'm going to be 23 years old this year, and there are times where I'm still treated like I'm 13! Just last night, I went to visit someone who was ill and I came back around 1 or 2 am. This morning my grandma was upset like "Where were you so late, why? blah blah blah". Its true, I'm learning by Ghanaian standards that is late. But I make a point to tell the old lady (grandma) and the Uncle where Im going, and with whom. When I go, I try as much as possible to go with my driver, and when I have to take a taxi, I dont take it alone at night. Even most of my friends have numbers of taxi drivers they trust to call. Its come to a point where I dont go out to shows, or concerts because I'm so tired of either me being interrogated or my driver being interrogated about where I was or what I was doing. I dont even go out much with the Ghanaians I meet around. Even when I traveled to Cape Coast, my grandma was so scared, like " Take care of yourself! Dont go out at night!" etc etc....

I'm 22, I like to have fun. But at the same time, Ive been on my own long enough to know how to take care of myself. I realize I'm in a different culture, where I may not speak all the languages. But how am I supposed to learn about the culture when my family is so overprotective? I remember even when I first got here, my family wouldnt even let me cross the street by myself because "They know youre American, go with your cousin!" Its at a point where I dont even know my own neighborhood that well, or even have many connections with the people in my neighborhood because going around "isnt safe". Its getting ridiculous.

Im in a house where my Uncle is a pastor, and they run quite a strict household. I notice my teenage cousins dont go out, and their friends, if they have any, never come over. So perhaps to them, the few times I go out on the weekends, or the times I travel seems rebellious. Culture clash?

I dont do anything that I wouldnt do in a big city at home. But I dont know how to make them understand that in the States, people my age already have jobs and live out on their own. Its true, I know I have to respect them. But at the same time, I wish I could have a bit of freedom! I help pay for food, water, electricity and other things around the house. I dont think im being that unreasonable. But I wish they could understand that Im old enough to take care of myself. Hell, half this fulbright project is learning how to adjust to a new culture and learn about it. Im not saying all the learning to be done about Ghana is done after 1o pm or anything. But they forget that I lived for a while in Spain of all places, where I didnt fit in because of my skin color, and not a lot of people spoke English. And I survived. So why all this mess in a country which is essentially my homeland, where the people look like me, and most speak English?

Augghhh!

-Karen

1 comment:

Wildfiyah said...

Interesting. I lived in a household like this all my childhood life, and I'm in an equally annoying situation now. Perhaps you could have a sit-down with Granny, and just tell her how you're feeling about this stripping of your independence? We'll chat more soon...