Cape Town Has Something to Offer Everyone Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/28/2016 to 06/11/2016 with

CIEE: Cape Town - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much, but some of the main lessons were how to be more tolerant, how to be more independent, encouragement to always try new things, and just generally about Cape Town's culture.

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.

Classes and the work is fairly easy, but all work at UCT is graded much more harshly than in the U.S. They do not inflate grades and an A is about equal to a 75% at UCT.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I never once found CIEE to be particularly helpful. I felt like I very much created my own experience in Cape Town.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Although CIEE's housing is centrally located, they essentially create an American dorm abroad and do not encourage much independence through their housing program. They say that they want you to have an authentic South African experience, but they foster an American-centric study abroad experience.

* Food:

The food is amazing in Cape Town. There are so many options.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like I integrated very well into the local culture, but that was my doing, and not my program's.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Cape Town has much more crime – mugging, pick pocketing, etc. than most American cities. There was also a rapist on the loose near UCT's campus while we were there, but they eventually caught him.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I would absolutely return to Cape Town, but I would not use CIEE. I would either directly enroll at UCT, use IES, or some other program.


* 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)

The conversion rate between USD and South African rand makes Cape Town very affordable.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $40
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan your own trips rather than using travel companies – they rip you off.


* 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Cape Town's food
  • Cape Town's hiking and scenic-ness
  • Cape Town's variety of events and goings-on
* What could be improved?
  • CIEE's integration of students into local culture
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how dangerous Cape Town is (although that shouldn't deter one from going – it's just good to be aware) and I wish I knew that it is very easy to get sucked into CIEE and American programs and only hang out with Americans. You have to make an effort to have a more localized experience.

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.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Democratic Theory and Practice

Course Department: Politics
Instructor: Robert Mattes
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The class was a basic politics class that could have been taken at any university. That being said, I did learn a lot of useful information, but it was a pretty dry class and not particularly relevant to South Africa.
Credit Transfer Issues: I have not had any issues yet.
Course Name/Rating:

Politics of the Global South and Africa

Course Department: Politics
Instruction Language:
Comments: This class offered an interesting perspective on the developing world and was definitely worth taking while in South Africa. The class was split between two professors, which was unusual, and I liked the second one because she was very clear and engaging.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not yet
Course Name/Rating:

Intro to Xhosa

Course Department: African Languages
Instruction Language:
Comments: This was very interesting because it taught me about the Xhosa people's perspective in Cape Town and opened my eyes to their culture during my time in South Africa. The class was mainly reading and writing based because there were too many students to focus on verbal development – that being said, I thought it was unfair that they tested us orally since we didn't really practice speaking Xhosa.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not yet