Hi, I'm Denise, and I grew up as the youngest of four daughters with my family in Hollister, California. I am a first generation college student paying my way through college completely on financial aid. I didn't think it would be possible to study abroad, but CSU-IP gave me the opportunity to do so. I chose Ghana because ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to travel to Africa to experience a completely different culture.
This picture was taken at Independence Square in downtown Accra, where independence was first declared on March 6, 1957, by the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah.
By choosing Ghana, I challenged myself in every way possible and changed into a much better person. Being abroad gave me the confidence to be able travel independently—which I did, to Turkey, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, in addition to travels around Ghana. It was a life-changing experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
This picture was taken at Mole National Park in the northern region of Ghana. It took about 14 hours to get there, but it was completely worth being able to be around warthogs, monkeys, and baboons like these in their natural environment.
My friend from UC Santa Barbara and I climbed the highest mountain in Ghana, called Mount Afadjato, located in the Volta Region. The climb was tough, but the view was breathtaking.
During our orientation week, our CSU group was taken to Elmina Castle. This is where thousands of slaves were held and transferred during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
A lot of international students at the university were from the United States, so at Thanksgiving, CSU-IP and other groups got together to have a Thanksgiving celebration. We had good food, music and dancing. Here are all of us doing a group dance that most of us learned in dance class.
Ghana has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, not very far from the university. This picture was taken at a small beach town called Busua, located in the western region.
This picture is of the Wli waterfalls—the tallest waterfalls in Ghana—located in the Volta Region. It took us about 3 hours to climb up and 3 hours to climb down in pouring rain, yet there really is nothing like it.
The Nzulezo stilt village is a town completely held up above water. There are about 500 people that live there, and getting in and out of town takes an hour long canoe ride that inhabitants do every single day.
I am holding a mona monkey here at the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary in the Volta Region. I got to walk into the crowd of trees where the monkeys live and feed them bananas, which they gladly accepted. They weren't shy at all about climbing on us to get them.
At Mole National Park, you are taken on two safaris: one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. In the late afternoon, our caravan took us into the park, where we spotted an elephant and were able to get out of the van to follow it. Accompanied by the park ranger, we were able to follow it into the brush for a good 30 minutes.
Here is a picture of most of the girls in our CSU group and myself getting ready to leave for our goodbye dinner held for us by our CSU coordinators. By the end of the year, we had all become very close and were like family. I'm really glad I studied abroad because I never would have met such good friends like these otherwise.
Learn more about the study abroad program in Ghana