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Learn and Serve in Ghana FAQ

What is Ghana like?

Ghana is a rapidly-developing country, and the first formal African colony to gain independence: March 1957. The culture is fantastically rich with a mix of ethnic groups, e.g., Fante, Asante, Ga-Dangambe, Ewe, and religions, e.g., Christianity (vast majority), Islam, and African traditional religion.  Coastal Ghana (called the gold coast due to the medieval Asante production and export of gold) first interacted with Europeans, the Portuguese, in the late 15th century and Elmina (the mine) became a major trading post, eventually renowned for the export of slaves. It changed hands several times: Portuguese, Dutch, & British.

Ghanaian peoples are known for their warmth and pride in their rich and complex history. Although the country endured several military coups and rulers between 1966 and 1992 and economic hard times in the 1970s and 1980s, it now has a burgeoning economy and free elections of presidents.

Cost of the Trip/Course?

The cost is $2816 which icludes airfare, lodging, most meals, ground transportation in Ghana, and the fees for lecturers/performers: 65% of the cost is airfare. Also factored in is the cost of a passport, yellow fever vaccine and visa. If you want to purchase gifts for friends & relatives, splurge on nightlife, you'll need to bring some spending money. There are few ATMs in Ghana so bring cash. ATMs are found at banks but only take Visa credit or debit cards.


Is there College Credit?

Yes. You receive & register for 3 s.h. under ALS/Hist 292 The City in African History.

Do I need a visa?

Yes. Everyone needs a valid passport (US or any country) and a visa (unless you are a citizen of an ECOWAS/West African country). If you do not have a current, valid passport, then get one immediately. It can take 6 weeks to obtain a U.S. passport and "rush" jobs--2/3 wks cost lots more. A Ghanaian visa costs $60. The ALS office will send your visa application & passport en masse in mid November, if you choose.


You are required to purchase SUNY health insurance for students traveling & studying overseas. It also includes medical evacuation in the case of emergencies and repatriation. It costs $49 for 16 days or $91 for 30 days.

Vaccinations and/or special medical needs?

*All visitors are required to obtain a yellow-fever innoculation. This costs $120 (or more) at U.S. Public Health Offices or some hospitals in NYC: Bronx Lebanon,  Montifiore Hospital.  It is much costlier when provided by local or individual doctors.

*Everyone needs to  take anti-malarial tablets. The SUNY Oneonta Health Center will give you Doxycycline. Your doctor may issue a prescription for Malarone (few side effects) or Mefloquine (more side effects). There are Artemisin tablets available in Ghanaian pharmacies for under $5. Many Ghanaians take these as they are very effective for cases of malaria.

*If you have any special medical conditions, e.g., diabetes, please notify Dr. O'Mara. Quite adequate public and university hospitals are close to us & our itinerary most of the time.

Do I need a physical before I leave?

Yes. All students are required to have a physical during the fall semester. This can be arranged at the campus health center (free) or you may visit your family physician (at your expense). The required forms to be completed by the health care provider are provided in your study-abroad packet.

What's a study-abroad packet?

The study-abroad packet contains various forms and documents which you will need to read and complete yourself or have completed by someone else (like your doctor). The packets are available in the Continuing Education Office on the 1st floor in Netzer--where you will go to register for one of the three intersession courses mentioned above.

Cellphones & Internet?

*Cellphone service is good in cities, but can be spotty in rural areas--a bit like upstate New York. You should only bring an unlocked phone (e.g., T-Mobile and AT&T) and a Tri-Band/Quad-Band GSM phone if you intend to phone the USA. Text Messaging often works when getting calls through will not. Unlocked phones are available (often used & cheap) at cell phone sites on the web. Then, in Ghana you need to buy a local (Tigo, MTN, etc.) SIM card (approx. $5--$10) to put in the cell you bring. There are also cheap rubber phones available from Tigo or Vodafone for about $25--30.

* Internet is available, especially on campuses, in hotels, and at internet cafes. Since our time is tightly scheduled, your internet use will be occasional. If you like, you can bring a netbook.

What is lodging like?

Lodging on campuses (Kumasi & Cape Coast) & city hotels is quite good and consists almost entirely of two-bed double rooms with bath. Most places are air conditioned, though power outages occasionally occur.

Trip cancellation?

The major cost is airfare. This is not returnable or transferable, though if you cannot go you may often rewrite the ticket for somewhere else for a fee. $150? The earlier you purchase a ticket, the better the price you will obtain. In 2009, from mid-July to mid-September, seats were available on Luftansa and KLM for approximately $1200. They rise approximately $200 per month thereafter. The ALS office will obtain plane information and email to every student who expressed an interest in attending the intersession. We work with Economy Travel (Elly Meijer, 888-222-2110, x103). There are forms available in the ALS office where you can fax your credit-card information to Economy Travel once you have a reservation. For those relying on financial aid for plane-ticket funds, you need to apply for financial aid EARLY (spring or summer) so that you can obtain a refund in September and purchase your ticket with those funds. The cost of the trip is based on 18 students. If you cancel by Nov 15, 2010 only $300 will be returned (part of lodging).

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