South Africa Transformed Me Past Review

By (Peace And Justice Studies, Wellesley College) for

CIEE: Cape Town - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to complain less and take advantage of my education. My ideas about South Africa were challenged in several ways and I grew a lot because I made every effort to immerse myself in the local culture(s). My time there has heightened my desire to ensure that everyone has access to an excellent education as a way to reverse the detrimental impacts of racism.

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 workload was manageable, the teaching methods were not preferable, and the grading system was very different from what I am used to. I had no difficulty in any of my courses.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

At times there were several communication issues between administration and students but overall, I really appreciate everything that the staff did for me.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Aesthetics and facilities within the dorm were not so great. My bathroom had mold all over the walls, the facilities were just sub-par and I don't think that anyone- American or local should have to settle for those facilities. I made due with my living situation and pretty early on it did not bother me as much. I think this was helped by the strong sense of community within the dorm and the many friends that I made, especially with local students. If I were to do it again I would still choose the dorm, but I think that several renovations are necessary. The dorm had a convenient school shuttle stop and it was easy to get into the city throughout the day. I brought my own cookware and bedding with me.

* Food:

I cooked my own food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I did several homestays in rural villages and townships with different cultural groups. I also attended several discussion forums related to racism and empowerment post Apartheid and learned a lot from my conversations with local friends. My program did an excellent job of planning excursions for us.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I didn't feel unsafe, but knew many people who did. I took the necessary measures to not draw attention to myself. I had no health related incidents. HIV/AIDs is rampant in South Africa.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget your money wisely for food and fun activities. Several people ran out of money from reckless drinking before the program ended.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Students who are open-minded and not high maintenance would benefit most from this program. Take advantage of all that the local students and local culture have to offer and place yourself in a position of constantly learning. Go outside of your comfort zone and explore outside of the city. The wealth of my experience was within the people I interacted with.