A New Way of Living Past Review

By (African Studies, University of Vermont) for

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to be more open minded and to try many new things.

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes in South Africa are much more independent than classes here in the states. You have lecture anywhere from once a week to four times a week depending on the class. Another component to class is called a tutorial which is a small group of about 15 kids who get together with a grad student and discuss the material more in depth. One of the biggest differences in the workload is there aren't many ways to build up your grade. There may be just a paper and a final exam. Most of the courses offered to international students are not mainstream classes. However there are classes offered in English or English and Afrikaans. I took a dual language class which was split into two sections. The first section was taught by a visiting professor from the states and the second half was taught by a South African professor. I struggled a lot in the second half because the teacher spoke 70% Afrikaans and 30% English.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

AIFS was located right in the international office. The staff was excellent. Hestea's door was always open and she could fix an problem. One issue I had with the program was that it was too large. There were 60 in our program and at many times it was hard to avoid the American bubble.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Concordia with 3 other AIFS girls. We each had our own bedroom and bathroom with a shared living room/ kitchen. AIFS provided everything in the kitchen and gave us bedding. Concordia had a security door where you had to swipe your ID card to enter. The other living option is called Academia which is a large complex that surrounds Concordia. Both are available for international students. There is a snack shop out in front of the complex. The uni was a 5 minute walk and the town was 10.

* Food:

Food was bought and made by you. The grocery store was a 10 minute walk. Most of the food was relatively the same. You might have to search for things the first time because they are labelled differently, but you can pretty much find what you're looking for. Ketchup and peanut butter are different than they are here. At the Uni the Neelsie Student center has a food court and it is very reasonably priced.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The excursions provided were amazing! We went to a wine festival, a whale festival, Cape Point and the Garden Route. I would recommend doing all the excursions with them. The uni also has an international student excursion program that uses a local tour company to run student trips. I went to Cape Town and River rafting with them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I would call Stellenbosch pretty safe. If you are smart, you should be fine. Don't walk by yourself at night and don't show all of your flashy American toys. I would walk back from the town center with a small group of friends without worrying. As for health, I personally didn't need any assistance, but a girl in my group got a virus and had to go to the doctor. The AIFS staff helped out and made sure she was ok.

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't be afraid to break outside your comfort level. The more you do, the more you will get out of your time abroad.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Transitional Justice

Course Department: Political Science 322/422
Instructor: Tyrone Savage
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Tyrone was very prepared for this class. He worked in the field prior to teaching and was very up to date with current issues. This was also a very different class where I learned about global situations I wasn't familiar with.
Credit Transfer Issues: I received political science credit
Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to the South African Wine Industry

Course Department: Viticulture 104/204
Instructor: N/A
Instruction Language: English
Comments: By far the best class I took. It was a four week course where we learned about the entire process of wine making from the grapes to the bottle. We also had tastings in class and a field trip to a vineyard at the end of the course.
Credit Transfer Issues: It was only a one credit class and I did not receive any credit for it.
Course Name/Rating:

Politics and Cultural Change in Contemporary South Africa

Course Department: Sociology 311/411
Instructor: Simon Bekker
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course spent each week on a different issue. The instructors changed depending on the topic. For class work, each week two students created a presentation and wrote a paper on their chosen topic.
Credit Transfer Issues: I received sociology credit
Course Name/Rating:

Economic and Development Problems in South Africa and Africa

Course Department: Economics/Political Science 214/314
Instructor: Johan Fourie
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Johan was very much involved in relating the material to present day. We had to write a paper and had a final exam. It was interesting to find out about the economics of the country and how the leaders were trying to help it.
Credit Transfer Issues: I received economics credit
Course Name/Rating:

Afrikaans for Beginners

Course Department: Afrikaans: Language and Culture 104/204
Instructor: Vernita Beukes
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The teacher was great. She made class fun and even took us on a field trip to a local Afrikaans restaurant to practice our skills outside the classroom.
Credit Transfer Issues: I received elective credit.