Be Here Now Past Review

By (Public and Community Service, Providence College) - abroad from 01/23/2012 to 06/13/2012 with

AIFS: Stellenbosch - Study Abroad or Service Learning at Stellenbosch University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I've become more independent and self-assured in my own abilities living on my own. I also was able to take advantage of many cultural activities throughout the semester so I fully believe I made the most out of the 5 months I was abroad. Without a doubt it was worthwhile and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The course load was much less than courses at my home university, which allowed me to get out and experience the culture on a regular basis. I enjoyed all my professors- all were very knowledgeable.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Hestea (or "Mama H") is an incredible woman. She did an amazing job preparing us for the transition with regular emails beginning a few months prior and was always available for questions throughout the semester- by phone, emails and stopping by the office. As a program director she had every little detail figured out and giving us the best experience was always her priority.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

AIFS students were placed in Concordia and Academia residence halls. I lived in Concordia- I loved the space. I lived with 3 other girls and we each had our own bedroom and bathroom and shared a small common room/kitchen area. The kitchen had a fridge, small oven, microwave, stove top and toaster which made it very easy to cook meals. Concordia also provided a cleaning service (Academia did not), so our common room and rooms were cleaned regularly.

* Food:

South Africans LOVE their meat! Braais (or bbqs) are very common for weekend meals and it's a great time to socialize with people as well. Food is reasonably priced- highly recommend trying traditional and cultural dishes while in Africa!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My community engagement/development work in my courses definitely allowed me to be more immersed in the culture than if I had simply taken mainstream courses. I also recommend getting involved in campus clubs/societies to meet local students (although there are also many international students to get to know as well!)

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Never had a problem during the semester. The student health facilities were close and easy to access when I needed vaccines/medicine for traveling out of the country at the end of the semester.

* Safety:

Never had a problem or felt in danger walking around. The school encourages using a "Green Route" with security guards if you're out late at night and obviously it's safer to be in a group when it's late.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20-$30
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Figure out a general budget after about 2 weeks, keeping in mind expenses for excursions and trips- they're well worth it if you can afford them!!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Everyone spoke English so it wasn't necessary to use Afrikaans but it was still fun to learn and use in the primary school I was working in.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Don't be afraid to ask local friends to help you out- they love sharing their language and you pick up on things as well.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement course
  • Meeting international students
  • Traveling and getting immersed in a new culture
* What could be improved?
  • More integration with local students for housing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Pack light!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

HIV/AIDS: A South African Perspective

Course Department:
Instructor: Jaco Brink, Monica de Wit
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The class itself was interesting but often times the lectures felt drawn out. I enjoyed the weeks where guest speakers were brought in or panel discussions. This semester was the first time a community development project was added to the course and although it was unorganized and therefore at times frustrating (due to the nature of community development, not because of the department), I learned the most through this aspect of the course.
Credit Transfer Issues: counted as a departmental elective
Course Name/Rating:

Afrikaans for Beginners

Course Department:
Instructor: Vernita Beukes
Instruction Language:
Comments: Awesome professor! Vernita obviously loves teaching and always made the class interesting and entertaining! I left the class with a basic understanding of Afrikaans and was able to hold simple conversations by the end of the semester.
Credit Transfer Issues: course credit as an elective
Course Name/Rating:

Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement

Course Department:
Instructor: Grant Demas
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Best course I've taken! Grant is a brilliant professor and I loved hearing his perspective on many of the themes we discussed in class. Not only this, but he also encouraged participation from every member in class, which made us all open up to one another -I felt very close to everyone by the end of the semester. Working in a local primary school was definitely challenging, as the administration was many times complicated and hard to communicate with, but this also allowed me to practice teamwork, leadership and flexibility. This class made my study abroad experience!
Credit Transfer Issues: Ended up counting as an internship and another core requirement for my major