Religious Studies Abroad at University of Cape Town Past Review

By (Religion/Religious Studies., The College of William and Mary) for

ISA Study Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
There is no way to describe the experience and do it justice. If you are on the fence about going abroad, just go. Of course it will be worthwhile. When during college will you have another opportunity to see things completely outside of what you have made them to be? I love William and Mary and I love my friends and the community here, but it's a bubble, just like any other college in the country, and you fall into a pattern and a lifestyle that you may not necessarily question. If I hadn't gone abroad, I never would have had room to fully breathe and grow the way you are supposed to during college, since I just wouldn't have been able to see things other than how had gotten used to seeing them. Cape Town allowed me time to think and reevaluate everything; by the time I got back to William and Mary, I knew what I wanted to do post-college, a question that had been tormenting me all sophomore year--I burned through three different majors (seriously) before deciding second semester junior year to do Religious Studies. I couldn't be happier. Doing my homework sends me over the moon. Would I ever have figured "Religious Studies" if I hadn't gone abroad? I really don't think so, but then again, if you're meant to go abroad, you will go. But also, you should definitely go.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: University of Cape Town
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months
The term and year this program took place: Fall 2009

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Rating InterStudy--it was excellently administered; they had an office right on UCT campus, the staff was very involved but not overly so--we always knew we could rely on them if need be, but students had a great deal of autonomy and independence, we were treated like adults.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Lived in a (large, by American collegiate standards) apartment with two other InterStudy students; we all had singles and shared a kitchen, bathroom and living area. My room was HUGE. My roommates became my best friends. A woman named Angie came to clean our apartment twice a week. Three other InterStudy students lived across the hall and Rwandan law students lived on the floor below us. Despite the Nigerian drug lords living up the road and the five sets of locks between the street outside and my bedroom door, it was a mini paradise.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt completely safe the entire time, but I should also note that I had an exceptional study abroad group--we became fast friends, nearly all thirty three of us--I've never been a member of such an amazing group of people, never in my entire life; the dynamic was similar, I'm assuming, to that of the graduating class of a small high school--I felt like I knew these people for much longer than four or five months. In any case, we all looked after each other, and I felt much safer in a shady neighborhood in a supposedly dangerous South African city than I did during my time in the WM summer study abroad program in Florence, Italy.

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? It was actually a very affordable semester as the rand/dollar ratio was 8:1 most of the time we were there.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 300

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? All of your expectations for study abroad will be met, and then exceeded.


I didn't know you became a Religious Studies major!? Cape Town was the reason I decided to drop my drama major and become a full time religious studies major! I miss it so much, there is no way to describe it, unless you've been there.

kzack August 13, 2010

Are you kidding?!?! No way!!!! We must talk then. How was your InterStudy internship, by the way? When do you go back to school? Talk to me. xoxo

Jewelz August 16, 2010