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Zeugnis ++ Praktikum ++ Ghana

My Experience: 4-Week Internship in Psychology in Ho, Ghana

"Overall, it took me a few days to get used to the different culture. But I don't want to do it without the great experiences anymore."

My first impression - different countries, different customs

My travel experiences have so far been limited to very European countries. So it was time to try something new. Africa seemed like a cool new challenge to me. So I decided to do a four-week internship in clinical psychology in Ho, Ghana.

When I arrived at the airport, I was greeted on time by a nice woman and was taken to the hotel. Even when I tried to adjust to the new environment, the culture shock quickly set in. The hotel was extremely simple and the city was hectic and noisy. In the morning I was taken to a bus. A lot of people squeezed together in a small space. In Ghana the buses only leave when they are full, so we waited a while. In the end, my arrival was delayed by 4 hours because our bus stopped on the route and we had to wait for another one. As for public transport, I had to be patient and tolerant. Other countries other manners.

In Ho, I was welcomed very warmly. Contrary to my expectations, the accommodation on site was really nice. The food there is rather greasy, but they try very hard to prepare meals that are well tolerated by European stomachs.

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My Duties in the Psychiatric Ward

In the hospital, I worked in the psychological department. I had many opportunities to test my own knowledge and speak to patients. I was received very nicely there. When psychiatrists were on site, I could watch them at work, ask them questions, and conduct admission interviews with the patients themselves in English. The nursing staff was also very open and tried to involve me. When there were no doctors on site (which is unfortunately sometimes the case in Ghana at psychiatric wards), I spent the time with the nursing staff. They specialize in psychiatry there and also have a lot of detailed knowledge about medication and mental illnesses.

Something new surprises you every day in the clinic. Be it the patient folders, which consist of a thousand small pieces of paper, as a digital system has not yet been established, or fixation measures based on a torn bedsheet, because resources are lacking. Unfortunately, it often happens that patients do not have health insurance and have difficulty paying for their medication.

Dealing with Patients in Ghana

Unfortunately, the stigmatization of mentally ill people is much stronger there than in Germany. Most patients are in the clinic for very serious illnesses because relatives notice the abnormal behavior and they bring them to the clinic. On the other hand, I found that dealing with patients was less distant than in Germany, which I found to be very positive. Over time, I had a few opportunities to have an initial interview. I am supported by another intern from Ghana who started her year there in the second week.

Overall, I was able to make incredibly valuable experiences in the clinic. Many nurses tried to make me have a great time in the clinic and to show me a lot about their work. The fact that the disinfectant was empty every now and then and one or the other patient escaped was part of it. The local situation is sometimes frustrating, but the country has few resources and education about mental illnesses in society is still at the beginning. It was all the more important for me to experience this difference myself.

Weekend means Impressive hikes, Market Days and Washing!

From the second week, another German was on-site, initially doing an internship in the emergency room. So we could use the weekends to travel together. So we went on very impressive hikes to Mount Adaklu and a waterfall, spent a weekend on the beach and visited a reserve for the monkeys living there.

Our internship organizer was always very reliable. Unfortunately, this did not apply to everyone we met on site. Punctuality is probably something European I have been told: D. The market, where we always stocked up with fresh fruit, was also impressive. A lot of hustle and bustle. It is also a market day on Friday, when the clinic is dead. Everyone is busy with shopping and cannot accompany their relatives to the clinic.

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Sunday is church and for everyone. Unlike in Germany, everyone has their own congregation there and celebrates the service every Sunday in dressed clothes. Of course, I looked at that and I was confirmed in my imagination. Everyone is dancing to the songs and it's incredibly lively. However, there is also a lot of preaching, which would probably not be experienced in Germany.

Also doing laundry was on the weekend. There are washing machines only in the hospitals. It is normal to process your own laundry by hand. But you quickly get used to it. However, you have to keep in mind that the running water or the electricity could fail for a few days (you shouldn't question that - it will work again sometime: D). Overall, it took me a few days to get used to the different culture. I don't want to do without the great experiences anymore. I met very nice people in the clinic and my support there was also greatly appreciated. It is a challenge to get involved in a different culture with different traditions, habits, and manners. But I was able to learn a lot from this and can only recommend this experience to everyone.

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