Fabulous internship in Stellenbosch Past Review

By (Zoology, University of Toronto) - abroad from 02/01/2012 to 04/01/2012 with

Connect-123: Cape Town - Volunteer/Intern in South Africa

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a whole bunch of skills that complemented my education, and a real love for another city. It was definitely worth it - as soon as I came back to Toronto I made plans to return to Cape Town in September 2012 as a Masters student. Can't wait!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I learned a whole lot more doing two months of lab research in Stellenbosch than I did in my 4 years of undergrad, and I still count my undergraduate years as highly necessary.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Connect-123 and beyond my expectations. They answered my tentative inquiry email promptly in mid-2011, and from there everything went very fast. Connect-123 provided me with a very rare chance to intern with lovely people within my chosen profession, and realise that it would actually be possible to be a Marine Biologist. Although the people at Connect-123 had to make special arrangements for me for nearly all aspects of my 2 months in Cape Town, they did so without fuss and made me feel incredibly welcome and safe. They were with me every step of the way, checked on my progress often, and took a real vested interest in how and what I was doing.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Since my placement was an hour away in Stellenbosch, Connect-123 helped me get in touch with Stellenbosch University and I was able to register and get a place last minute in one of the residences.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Everyone was friendly and willing to help me whenever I looked lost..which was often.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I came in with a chronic health condition and on both the part of Connect-123 and my placement, I was treated with respect and care. I never felt alienated either.

* Safety:

I never had any issues but I did hear about people who didn't follow the rather basic rules of "don't go out after dark," and they were unfortunate to get into altercations or even get robbed for their personal belongings.

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)

The first week was hard and I ended up spending 1/3 of the money I brought, but after that I only needed to buy food every week and little trinkets here and there so it became very easy. I was able to go to nice restaurants for a lot less than what I'm normally used to so I probably lived a lot better there than I could in Toronto.

* Was housing included in your program cost? No
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Raw food goes bad quickly (no preservatives) so only buy as much as you can fit in a freezer. Stellenbosch is really cheap though so as long as you stay away from tourist shops, you'll be fine.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
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?
  • Spending all my time thinking about marine biology
  • The food - especially the cupcakes
  • The atmosphere of the little nooks and crannies full of cute shops
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I could have bought all my toiletries and other such things there rather than stuff my suitcase with useless junk from Toronto.