An unforgettable experience January 30, 2017

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 07/05/2016 to 11/11/2016 with

CIEE: Cape Town - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
A real sense of worldly perspective. The protests did make me think about the education systems of South Africa and the US, as well as how systemic racism differs between the two countries. The concepts were complex and interesting, and the conversations I had were incredibly worthwhile.

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.

While I enjoyed my professors at UCT, the semester was cut in half by student protests. While the protest was an important educational experience I will never forget, it is tough to give anything other than 1 star when transferrable credit is put in jeopardy.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I liked the on-site administration. Always helpful and friendly. They should take a harder look at how and who they choose to be resident advisors. I found the first or second year RAs, who had more time to devote towards us were significantly better than many of the more tenured RAs who, in my opinion, knew they had job security.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Most people had singles, the building was secure and professionally cleaned. Very standard housing accommodations but by no means as nice as I've seen on other programs.

* Food:

Cape Town is a melting pot of cultures and customs, and this really shines through with its food. Despite a lack of water nationwide, the food was fresh and extremely inexpensive coming from the US.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Stemming from the lack of school, I did not integrate as much with the local culture. Without classes, clubs, and downtime on campus, I just had very little reason to hang out with locals. That being said, the people on my program became a tight-knit group by the end, which is 100% due to the amount of time we spent with each other.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I would recommend getting all vaccines CIEE suggests on their site, especially if you are considering traveling.

* Safety:

Girls are very correctly advised to never walk alone. Guys probably shouldn't. Most of the people who ran into some kind of trouble put themselves in the position to be by drinking too much or going somewhere alone. I wouldn't say Cape Town is abnormally dangerous for a city. Just be smart and aware of your surroundings.

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

The protests cancelled the majority of my semester, and put some transferrable requirements in jeopardy. While I love Cape Town, and found it affordable, beautiful, and of great variety, it's important to remember the "study" in "study abroad."

Finances

* 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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook 2 meals a day and split groceries with your roommates. Saves everyone money in the end.

Language

* 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?
  • Affordability
  • Variety of Activities
  • Differences from the US
* What could be improved?
  • Academics
  • Housing
  • Integration with Locals
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The true extent of racial divide still present in South Africa.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.