Once I was There, I Didn't Want to Leave Past Review

By (Public Health, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/27/2015 to 06/13/2015 with

CIEE: Cape Town - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
People talk about how spending time abroad completely changes you and your perspective. For me, this was very untrue. Perhaps it is because I had the opportunity to live in multiple countries abroad growing up, but I am not sure. I found that being abroad gives you a better understanding of who you are by challenging and questioning your values and culture. For me it was a very reaffirming experience.

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 classes themselves were about the same rigor of classes at Brandeis, but are structured very differently. Also, while inidividual classes compared to Brandeis, I only took three classes (but recieved 17.5 credits) while I was abroad, so I still had a lot of time for other activities.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The CIEE in country staff was pretty good, but they definitely could have provided us with more information prior to starting the program. It was really helpful to talk to students who had done the program previously to fill-in some of the missing information.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing is pretty basic, but has everything you could need. I lived in an apartment with five other people with two bathrooms and a kitchen.

* Food:

Food in Cape Town in general is amazing and cheap relative to U.S. prices. There were two grocery stores right outside my apartment and the restaurants in Cape Town are incredible.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

If you want complete integration into the local culture, this may not be the best program for you. Due to the number of American students at UCT and the living in an apartment building with all Americans, most of my friends ended up being Americans. This was great because we were all interested in exploring Cape Town as much as possible. However, once classes started, I did make South African friends and it would have been easy to leave my American bubble to go hangout with them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

South Africa in general is not known for being the safest country, but Cape Town is one of the better places to be. Just because it is better, however, does not mean that you don't need to be cautious. Learning to take the safety measures needed, like taking a taxi from the library to my apartment even though it was a 15 minute walk after it was dark, was big adjustment at the beginning, but you get used to it really quickly. I would also say the safety issues were nowhere near as bad as I was told to anticipate. While I had no problems during my study abroad, a few of my friends had items stolen. The program was great with assisting them!

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)

In general, living expenses are much cheaper in Cape Town than in the U.S. or any European study abroad option. However, just because of the study abroad mentality of wanting to experience everything, I found myself living on a similar budget to what I used in the U.S. Also, while taxi cabs are very cheap, if you take them frequently, they add up! This was a cost that I didn't really budget for and regretted later.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Cape Town as a city
  • My friends
  • My classes
* What could be improved?
  • Pre-departure information from CIEE
  • N/A
  • N/A
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? N/A

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'