AIFS Stellenbosch South Africa: The best decision I've ever made!!! Past Review

By (Communications, PR and Adversiting, University of Hartford) for

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes! I've gained so much from my time abroad, for example I'm much more independent than I was when I left. I traveled across South Africa with two girlfriends and when I got back we all just looked at each other were so proud of ourselves because we successfully traveled a foreign country and that's a huge thing! I've been abroad before but not that I've actually spent time immersed in a different culture it inspires me to travel more and really spend time with people from other cultures.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The work load was almost non-existent, I had about 4 assignments the whole semester.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My program was very small compared to others. I think there was only about 40 students in AIFS so the program was able to give us their undivided attention and address issues that we needed to be taken care of in an extremely timely fashion. Whenever I had a minor issue I simply emailed our resident director (Hestea De Wet) and she took care of it, usually that day. My expectations were not only met but I was very impressed at how speedy the international office was at taking care of what needed to be addressed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing was in a large apartment which they call "flats" in South Africa. We each had our own rooms and bathrooms connected to a main living room and kitchen. I lived with 3 other Americans in my program and the flat came with everything we needed, including bedding. Condordia, the building where we lived was about a 5 minute walk to campus and a 10 minute walk to downtown, very do-able.

* Food:

I came here a strict vegetarian for the past 7 years and left a carnivore. I do not recommend studying in South Africa as a vegetarian because a large part of their diet is meat. They also eat a great deal of avocado and feta cheese but other than that the food isn't much different than American food unless you go to a specialty African food restaurant.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Our program took us to the highest bungee jump in the world when we went on our week long Garden Route excursion. That was the most memorable and exhilarating event and it was arranged through our program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Again Stellenbosch is like a little bubble of perfection within South Africa. The was many minor crimes like burglaries and such but I did not hear of any major issues in the area when I was there. I know that in Cape Town as well as in the townships right outside of Stellenbosch there is a lot of rape and murder but I felt very safe in our building where we lived as well as walking on campus. I did not need any vaccines for this trip because I was up to date on mine but the prevalent health issue in South Africa is HIV and Aids so we were lectured on prevention tactics in our orientation in the beginning the program.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? The amount you spend really depends on the person and what they value. I value good food and so did my friends in the program so we went out to nice meals a lot. Stellenbosch is full of amazing restaurants and we just couldn't help ourselves. I probably spend about $4,500 over the total semester but I know that you could live comfortably only spending about $2,000 since everything is so much cheaper. Each month my parents put in %350 for food along with the %150 from the Fairfax card that our program provided but I also got a job so that is why I had so much extra spending money. I recommend getting a part time job because it really helped me with my Afrikaans language skills, I met tons of local friends and made a good amount of play money.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The only unanticipated expense I wish I was informed of before coming to South Africa was the internet fee. The internet is not free how we think of it here in the states, it charges you so many rand per minute. This wasn't a big fee at the end of 5 months since my program took care of it but I know I had American friends in other programs who had to pay for it out of pocket so they had to monitor their internet use carefully.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

We practiced the language of Afrikaans with pretty much everyone who wasn't an American in the program. Almost everyone in South Africa speaks Afrikaans besides the Africans who live in the townships so we didn't really have a lot of daily interactions with them like we did with the Afrikaans speaking students on campus. Everyone also spoke English so communication was never an issue.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? GO ABROAD! I can't stress enough how amazing my abroad experience is an I wish every student would have the same. In order to flourish abroad you need to have few characteristics, you need to be friendly, independent, nd open to new foods, religions, and cultures. If you have these than your guaranteed to have an amazing experience.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Intro to Afrikaans

Course Department: Other
Instructor: Amanda DeVilliers
Instruction Language: Afrikaans, English
Comments: Great class! This instrustor made learning the language not only fun but we actually looked forward to comng to class because she was so passionate about teaching us her culture and language. She always has us doing fun activities, for example we went to lunch at an Afrikaans restaurant and were only allowed to speak Afrikaans to enhance our vocabulary. This was challenging as is any new language class but I felt it wasn't terribly difficult because Afrikaas is so simular to English.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not yet (I've only been home for 3 days)
Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to Wine

Course Department: Arts
Instructor: Cape Wine Academy
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Great class! I have a new appreciation for wine after learning the many steps it takes to produce it. We went on a field trip to a vineyard, learned the proper tasting techniques and tried different wines paired with food.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues
Course Name/Rating:

Jewelery Design and Metal Tequniques

Course Department: Arts
Instructor: Net Netelle
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was my least favorite but I'd still give it 4 stars because we made such cool pieces that we were able to take home with us. It was my least favorite class because I found the pace to be almost unbearable. The instructor took about 5 times longer than it was necessary to explain the steps but she was very nice and allowed us to be very creative with our designs.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues
Course Name/Rating:

Theology: A South African Perspective

Course Department: Other
Instructor: Dr. Clint Le Bryns
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Another of my favorites! Not only did we learn about current and past issues relating to religion and politics from a South African perspective but my class was made up of mostly international students so I got the oppurtunity to hear their thoughts relating to issues such as apartheid, the Israeli Palistenean conflict, the war in Iraq as well as many other topics.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues
Course Name/Rating:

HIV and Aids: A South African Perspective

Course Department: Other
Instructor: Jaco Brink and Michelle Munro
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was one of my favorites because not only did we have the normal lectures and power points but we also had many out of class room experiences in ever day township communities. This immersion into the communities really impacted us because you could see first hand how HIV and Aids is really effecting a great amount of people and made us appreciate how lucky we are to have our health. We learned so much about HIV, Aids, and STI's, as well as and prevention techniques to these viruses.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues