Life-changing, I would go back to SA and Stellenbosch in a heartbeat! Past Review

By (University of Massachusetts Amherst) - abroad from 07/16/2010 to 05/15/2010 with

ISA Study Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was my first true time abroad for an extended period of time. Through my experience my travel bug was awakened and my passion for international cultures and experience are now strong! Interstudy helped me immerse myself into South Africa and with their guidance caused me to stay for the year. My experience in South Africa and with Interstudy was 100% worth it, I know I will revisit as soon as possible!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Stellenbosch enables international students to immerse themselves both in mainstream courses and IPSU courses (specifically for international students). This allows for a great balance of local student life and international student culture and helps with the potential language barrier with some mainstream lectures taught in Afrikaans. IPSU professors also understand that the international students are in South Africa for more than academics, thus influencing a more relaxed curriculum without sacrificing any academic integrity and knowledge.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Interstudy provided us with a great orientation into the Stellenbosch area. We were informed of the subtle 'ins and outs' of South African culture and gained a wherewithal of the town through walking around with them upon arrival. If we needed anything the staff was more than willing to provide and mentor us as necessary.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Concordia is a great residential dorm and enables students to branch out and meet fellow international students. If motivated enough you will be able to also meet local South Africans and African students from around the continent. The common area facilitates great braai's and a place to congregate with fellow students!

* Food:

Braaing (South African bbq) cooked by a local cannot be matched anywhere! And Stellenbosch has a copious amount of great pubs, cafes, and restaurants all around town.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

With the amount of student clubs, societies and organizations it is quite easy to immerse yourself into the South African culture. Also there are lots of volunteer and after school programs where you can gain exposure to the 3rd world aspect of the country through townships in the area.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)

It is not hard to live on a student budget, especially coming from the US where the dollar goes a long way. However, if you are looking to do some traveling and experience everything you can during your time and typical 'student budget' may be a bit more challenging.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $25-50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Although tempting, try and limit eating out so often. Take advantage of the braai and local friends to eat cheap, delicious, and locally cooked food!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Other
  • Apartment
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Interstudy was great with helping us transition to South African life and familiarizing ourselves with our surrouding.
  • Helping us set up a local bank account was extremely helpful and useful.
  • Interstudy gives you your freedom but is willing and able to help with anything at anytime if need be!
* What could be improved?
  • Information about less touristic places to visit.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew beforehand the ease in which you can travel around the country as I would have taken more little day trips.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

LSCE: Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement

Course Department: IPSU
Instructor: Grant Demas
Instruction Language: English/Afrikaans
Comments: This course is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences during my time in Africa. LSCE gathers a group of 20-30 international students to be educated in development and community engagement, specifically within the context of South Africa while gaining hands on experience of teaching their own class from grades 1-8. Beyond the in-class lectures and teaching we explored the surrounding village and met with members of the community, further enhancing our understanding of South African history and life during, and after the Apartheid regime. Grant Demas, our professor is one of the most inspiring men I have met. His passion, knowledge, and unrelenting commitment to improve the students of Lynedoch's outlook and enhance our knowledge of the field is humbling and created a truly unique space in which to learn and grow as a student. I participated in class much more than at UMass. I was extremely engaged during our full-day lectures and would visit my students during the week to work on projects and just hang out. I would recommend this course to anyone looking to be part of a motivated team to make a real difference in a community that truly deserves it.
Credit Transfer Issues: No, my credits were transferred in full.