When I first got to Accra I was a bit overwhelmed by getting to work. Not only did I have to figure out the actual directions and transportation methods, but I also had to avoid getting hit by cars, and get used to all of the people around everywhere (hawkers, taxi drivers, children, etc.). I found it all quite exhausting (especially when you mixed it with walking under the hot sun!). Being an “obruni” (white person) in Ghana, also makes people talk to you as if you’re a celebrity, and you get bombarded with questions, requests, and just people yelling at you for no reason more than everyday Ghanaians would. You can check out a typical segment of my walk home from work in the video below.
I think what I realized lately, is that these types of environments bother me more than others, because I’m very sensitive to the things around me. Find out if you might be “Highly Sensitive”. For example, when I hear a siren from a passing ambulance it makes me very emotional, and if a salesman grabs my arm (to try and get me to come see his shop) I react with a fear response as if I’m being kidnapped (which I think is based on my North American culture, where nobody would just randomly grab you on the street unless it was for a malicious reason). You can learn more about highly sensitive people here.
I guess I never knew how to explain it but apparently this type of personality is quite common (an estimated one in five). It means that the constant pounding of the speakers with prayers in the streets and the repeated questions from every person I meet are overwhelming. I have developed a strategy of listening to music on my way to and from work. Now I know this may seem anti-social to some, but really it just lets me cope. I can still hear when others address me, it just makes it easier for me to ignore those who are being rude. It allows me to not constantly feel like there’s too many people around, and instead I can take them off to have conversations with my friends, vendors, and other people I know from meeting along the way in the past. I think that it makes these interactions more positive because I am less in a hurry and more happy to stop and communicate.
I think in life it’s important to figure out what works for you… You’ll be much happier in the long run.