When I was 17, the night before I boarded a plane for my first stint living overseas, I took a moment to stare at my carpet, wondering where life was taking me. It was a moment of peace I usually wouldn't bother with.
Nelson journalist Stacey Knott has said her goodbyes, over-packed her bags and soaked up the tranquility of New Zealand ahead of her move to Ghana. As this column goes to print, I should be somewhere above Europe, winging my way to Ghana via Wellington and Melbourne.
While jumping over an open drain, my partner John clasps my hand and says to me "Welcome to Ghana". The drain runs alongside a busy road, it's sludgy and full of rubbish. There's no footpath, so when cars pass you have to be careful not to get too close to the drain or the car.
Its eyes seemed fixed on me, and there was something coming out of its mouth. The rest of its body was displayed out in front of it, with flies buzzing around. I was warned before going to the local market with John that my poor vegetarian sensibilities might be shocked.
"These whites were really wicked," I hear a young Ghanaian woman say as she ascends a dungeon in the Cape Coast Castle. She's on a tour of the castle and has just heard about the horrific conditions enslaved Africans were put through here.
You don't have to travel to get food poisoning, but I think it helps. After a great night out celebrating International Women's Day I go home feeling empowered and inspired to work harder for equality. But, two hours later I am crippled, that feeling of empowerment escaping me. Literally.
When it comes to acts of protest, be it throwing a dildo or marching the streets, Stacey Knott asks if the means justify the end. OPINION: Last month I wrote about a musician here in Ghana who allegedly exposed himself on stage, caused major outrage, then released an apology song.
I've put on about four kilos in the past three weeks. I've woken up in the night confused, looking over at the proper curtains that hang over windows that are not covered by steel bars. I have sat on the shower floor feeling the hot water run down my back, knowing that drinking the water from the shower won't make me sick.
Aside from how I handle the heat in Ghana, one of the most common questions I get about my life over here is "how safe is it?" It's difficult to answer. Like anywhere in the world, you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, you just try to mitigate immediate threats as much as possible.
Almost a year into her life in Ghana, former Nelson Mail journalist Stacey Knott reflects on the art of dealing with being called fat, preached at or interrogated by strangers. Last week I ran into a neighbour on our shared balcony. We hadn't seen each other for a few weeks.
There's a fairly new tradition here in Ghana which means on every Friday, offices are awash with bold, beautiful and cheerful colours - more so than usual. Unlike New Zealand - dark colours are not the mandatory staples of the wardrobe in this West African nation.
OPINION: Overwhelmed and despondent by the constant flow of news after the US election, I sought refuge at a beach near Accra, and turned my cellphone data off. I was still reeling over Trump's win. I needed just one news-free day.
Every night around 6pm, I cross my fingers and wait for a click or a beep. 12 hours later I'll do the same. Ghana has a bad problem with its electricity. Everywhere I go, people are irate about the fact their power is cut off for extended periods.
There's a confusing story here in Ghana which makes me double over in laughter each time I hear of it. And it leaves me wondering how it would have been reported had it happened in New Zealand. It's about a "doodle". But that "doodle" is meant to be something else entirely.
Women - if you ever want to get married, you better learn the art of submission. And don't even think about being smarter or richer than your husband. Ahead of International Women's Day, Stacey Knott learns where women stand in Ghana. In Ghana, feminism is a dirty word.
There are some young boys here in Ghana who spend their days shovelling dirt into potholes on a rural road, in the hopes passing drivers will flick them a few coins for their troubles. Those coins will go towards food, clothes or paying school costs when their farmer parents can't.
On the plane from Nelson to Auckland, the first leg of my journey back to Ghana two weeks ago, I nearly cried. It wasn't because I'd just said goodbye to my family, as sad as that was; it was something a passenger said. There was a young family on the flight; mum, dad, daughter and son.
Traffic is the bane of many city dwellers' existence, but as Stacey Knott discovers, Accra in Ghana takes it to a new level. In Accra, the capital of Ghana if you need to commute to get to work, chances are you will spend at least two hours of your day stuck in traffic.
From a hanging seagull to a failed tofurkey Stacey Knott recalls her international Christmases past, anticipating what could happen for her first in Ghana. The other day, I was walking down the street near where I am staying when an assortment of children and adults surrounded me.
Organic vegetable deliveries, glittering rooftop parties and vegan yoghurts - Stacey Knott finds Accra is growing up fast to cater to diverse tastes. Not too long ago, John and I went to an outdoor film screening of the documentary Human, held at the local Alliance Francaise.
As the sun rose over Ghana, a sombre Last Post played to mark this year's Anzac Day. With rows of white graves behind them two Ghanaian soldiers played the piece to an audience of New Zealanders, Australians, Turks, Ghanaians as well as members of Ghana's armed forces.
OPINION: There's a story I'm working on in Ghana which makes my stomach drop when I start thinking about it. It involved the hardest, saddest interview I've done. It's an investigation into sexual abuse in Ghana, centered on a young girl who has accused her father of a range of abuses - sexual and physical.
A young man slides a cutlass across his throat as he fixes me with a terrible stare. Behind him, guns go off loudly. Instead of slipping into a war zone I was at a local festival in peaceful Ghana this week, and it was one of the most amazing things I have experienced.
OPINION: Sick of the US election? Me too. But in just over a week it will all be over. News networks and social media reach every nook and cranny through the globe, so over here in Ghana we are just as bombarded with news of the US election.
OPINION: Naked, splayed out on the footpath with the scorching sun beating down on him, I spotted the man from my window. He looked dead, but after a few seconds, he shifted position. I watched as people walked past him, some glanced his way, others completely ignored him.
Just over a year ago, I went from the relative calm and ease of life in sunny Nelson to find myself locked in a toilet in Ghana, just after landing in the capital Accra. It feels like yesterday that I was clambering over the toilet stall wall, jumping down to the adjoining loo to let myself out.