“Where are you from?” I always struggle with answering this question because I am never sure of how to answer it. I was born and raised in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. But both my parents were born and raised in Ghana and left when they were close to thirty years old. So I was raised with both the Dutch culture and the Ghanaian culture. I find that when I am in Holland, people perceive me as a foreigner. And then when I go to Ghana, people there perceive me as a foreigner. So I think I should just call myself a citizen of the world.

So how is it like being a foreigner in Ghana? There’s the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is that some people tend to be extra helpful. They want to make sure you enjoy your stay and want you to be your friend. I think Ghanaians, in general, love making new friends. The bad is that some people have extra high expectations of you. They assume that you come from, the land of Euphoria, a place that is close to perfection and would love to trade places with you (thankfully this group is getting smaller). Another thing is that people genuinely don’t understand you when you talk, its either too fast or just unclear. I have had people tell me that I need to talk properly so they can understand me. Ouch. Well I had to try and speak slowly and articulated so that everyone could get me. The ugly is that everything is expensive for a foreigner. People assume that I have a lot of money so I have to pay three times as much as a ‘real’ Ghanaian. In case you are wondering what a ‘real’ Ghanaian is, well lets just say I am still trying to figure that out myself too. I just know that I had to pay a taxi driver 40 ghana cedis for a drive that should have cost me 25 ghana cedis. And when I went to change money at the FOREX bureau, this guy told me that the exchange rate had changed (within 5 minutes) and that I would therefore get less cedis than my dad who had just changed money and returned to the car. It is probably my accent which does not work in my favor or maybe it is something else. I could speak twi but I am slightly ashamed of the fact that my twi is not that good. So I just go for comfort and speak english and when I realized I am being duped I turn to twi.

So am I proud to be a Dutch and also a Ghanaian? Yes, Absolutely. I wouldn’t be any less awesome if I was fully Dutch or fully Ghanaian but I think growing up with multiple cultural backgrounds has helped me understand people better. I can compare both countries to each other and see similarities but also great differences. I realize one country is not better than the other. They are just different and our differences make us unique.

Hugs and kisses,

Jem.

 

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