I have a secret: I really enjoy working. And studying stuff to be a better… finance guy. On most weekends, I reserve time to read up or enhance my skills. If I don’t do anything to improve myself over the weekend, then I feel guilty. For instance, for the first part of this year, I wrestled with whether I should devote my weekends to studying for Level III of the CFA or should I work on skills that would have a more immediate beneift, e.g. programming. (Programming won out.)
Among those in my peer group in the States, I think this habit is common. Americans never seem too far removed from their work.
When I meet people in Accra, however, I am careful not to talk about work. Most people I meet are either diplomats, real estate developers, UN/Peace Corps/NGO types, commercial bankers, restaurant owners, journalists, oil traders, and retailers. They come from a variety of countries including the UK, France, Nigeria, Lebanon, India, China, and, of course, Ghana. I believe they are as unfamiliar with what I am interested in as I am with what they do. Every weekend, many people seem keen on “escaping” Accra for the beach, Aburi, or Europe.
This lack of overlapping work and life experience contributes to a feeling of isolation here. Sometimes I will have a lengthy conversation with a friend from the World Bank or Bank of Ghana about economics. But those occasions are rare.
Going to Republic Bar in Osu is a good place to unwind and find solace with other expats in shared frustrations of living and working here. The drinks are cheap (6 cedis for a small local mixed drink and 10 cedis for a large one) and the atmosphere is relaxed. On weekends, I might relax by the pool at one of the nearby hotels.
Of course, most of the time you’ll find me perched over my computer trying to figure out some finance or programming issue.