Kaylin LeMelle- Thomas November 26, 2010
CIEE Study Abroad At University of Ghana, Legon
University of Ghana, Legon Housing Preferences: ISH vs. Pentagon
There are many differences between living in Pentagon and living in International Student Hostels. Many of these differences are not described in detail in the manual, and therefore it is difficult for study abroad students to make the best choice for themselves. I live in ISH 2, but I spent the second half of the semester in Pentagon (Block B) for the majority of my time. I will share some of my personal observations and well as some of the feedback I received from my study abroad peers in both housing complexes.
ISH 1 and ISH 2 are not created equal. ISH 1 has a generator, so when the lights are out on our side of campus, they are never effected. ISH 2, on the other hand, has no generator. ISH 1 also has nicer rooms with titled/carpeted floors. Some people think the restaurant is better at ISH 1 and others think it is better at ISH 2. The ISH 1 restaurant is about 30 peswas more expensive but the food arrives a lot faster and you do not have to wait for your change. ISH 1 almost never runs out of running water, but in ISH 2, you will have to fetch water with your bucket from the outdoor faucet on occasion. All rooms in ISH have a porch on the back.
ISH 1 and 2 have a very international feeling, hence the reason for the name. Although there are some Ghanaian students living in ISH, the majority of the time you will gravitate to other foreign students and will spend a significant amount of time with friends from your program. ISH has TV rooms and shared kitchens and shared bathrooms. The porters in ISH 2 are very strict and will almost always complain if you make a lot of noise or if you want to have a room party. ISH 1 porters are very strict about having people sign in, and in both ISH 1 and ISH2, the porters will make sure your visitors leave by midnight. Some international students watch movies and TV together, but overall there is not one consistent source of entertainment or a fun place to hang out in ISH (besides people’s rooms or common areas). The great thing about living in ISH is that you meet people from all over the world, including people from all over USA, Europe, and Africa.
Another positive aspect about living in ISH is that it is located next to the Night Market where you can purchase food until 10pm, and can even get bread or egg sandwiches around midnight. The Night Market is amazing because they also sell fruit, clothes, pots, pans, buckets, DVDs, kebab, spaghetti, and anything else you could possibly imagine. Whatever you cannot find in the Night Market, you can get at the indoor convenience store located right next to it.
Pentagon, on the other hand, has a very defined culture. First off, Pentagon has a few stereotypes linked with it. People say that the majority of the rich Ghanaians at the University live there and that more people own cars in Pentagon in comparison to other dorms. I am not by any means saying that only rich people who drive cars live there, rather, it seems they are more highly concentrated in Pent then anywhere else. I am not sure if these statements are correct, but I can vouch for Pentagon having a very outgoing, lively crowd. Although these are all generalizations, it is obvious that some of the people who live in Pentagon enjoy taking part in the fun, partying, “hang-out spot” atmosphere there. However, people in Pentagon also get their work done. There are many large study halls on each floor that are constantly utilized by students at all times of the day and night. As an international student in Pentagon, you will often be grouped in the same wing with other people in your program, so you will not be the only American in your wing.
Part of what makes Pentagon so much fun is that Time Out is located in Block B. The Time Out in Pentagon is like a restaurant, bar, and lounge all in one. They have large flat screen TVs, comfortable couches, a pool table, and fully loaded bar. And, they recently started serving pizzas, which they even deliver to your door (and it is definitely the best pizza in Ghana I have had so far). There are also more then 3 restaurants within 2-5 minuet walking distance from all of the Blocks, plus several convenience stores.
Another reason why Pentagon is awesome is because every room has its own bathroom, kitchen, and porch within it. Therefore, you have more privacy and do not have to walk around in your pajamas in public to get food or to use the restroom. Also, you can easily hire someone to clean the bathroom and porch. You get your own full size refrigerator, and for an additional fee, you can get an air conditioner. These small luxuries make a huge difference when comparing life in ISH to life in Pentagon. However, there are a few disadvantages to living in Pentagon. For one, the water and power go out more frequently. Also, there are thousands of students living in the 5+ blocks (buildings) that make up Pentagon. It would be impossible to meet everyone like you could do in ISH, but on the other hand, if you are friendly and open-minded, you will meet incredible people no matter where you are living.
Some people in Pentagon tend to be fashionable and concerned with appearance. Pentagon does appear to be somewhat like a fashion show, especially on the weekend evenings. But then again, people in Pentagon often dress up everyday, as if they are going out to meetings or lounges. As you begin to visit other rooms in Pent, you will realize that many fulltime students decide to hire a painter to customize their room. Some people have large, flat screen TVs, pictures, posters, paintings, colored lights, and even fish tanks! ISH is just a dorm, but Pentagon really is like a home, with a definite vibe and culture. Time Out plays music videos and plays a mixture of popular local and international music. Sometimes people in Pentagon can be loud. People blast music, throw parties, and have guests visiting at all hours. However, most people are friendly and considerate to their neighbors.
As an international student, it is normal for you to have a lot of questions and preconceived notions about University of Ghana and the students here. In general, people are very friendly and will come up to you and introduce themselves on a regular basis. You will make Ghanaian friends whether you live in Pentagon, ISH, or in the homestays. Although there are many pros and cons to living in ISH and Pentagon, the choice is ultimately up to you. I prefer Pentagon for its lively atmosphere and for the fun times I have at Time Out, and with my Ghanaian friends in their Pentagon dorm rooms. But, ISH is also a great place for deep conversations and laughter with international and Ghanaian friends alike. The one thing I have noticed to be quite true about Ghanaian friends is that they have a good time talking and laughing together, and they do not need activities and entertainment to have a good time.
Pentagon and International Student Hostels (ISH) at a Glance
||Generally large but there are some smaller ones
|Number of roommates
||Single, double (four in a room is possible for Ghanaian students)
||Single or double
|Bathrooms and Showers
||In the room; you have to clean it or you can hire someone to clean for you
||Shared in the hall, four per floor; cleaned by maintenance staff everyday
|Kitchens and Sinks
||In the back of the room
||Shared in the hall, two per floor
||One large refrigerator per room
||Big refrigerators in kitchens, shared with everyone
||Back door and porch
||Back door and porch
||Yes for an extra fee
||No, only ceiling fan
||You can hand wash it yourself or pay someone to wash it for you (usually hand washed and hung to dry)
||You can hand wash it yourself or pay someone to wash it for you (washed and dried in washing machines in ISH)
||Yes, a bunch close by
||Yes, one close by
||A bunch, including Crossroads and Time Out
||ISH 1 and ISH 2 restaurants
||Main campus, Time Out in Block B
||The Night Market