Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Past Review

By (Political Science, University of Pennsylvania) for

ISA Study Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I wish I could have stayed longer. I wish I had hung out with more South Africans. I wish I hadn't offended so many people with my ignorance. I wish I had attended more class and studied harder. I wish I had asked for more help. South Africa is complicated and beautiful.

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.

- Not as much reading as I am used to, - grading system harsher, - hands-off teaching method, - deadly bureaucracy, - weak support system, i.e. counseling & therapy

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administrators were friendly and made themselves available to us, but they weren't very helpful with my academic problems. All they could do was suggest I talk to my professors but did not get involved themselves. I guess that's to be expected.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Frightening location. Wish I could have been housed with a mix of South African and international students. I liked the apartments though and I liked living near other people from my program.

* Food:

I'm vegetarian, which was not difficult at all in Cape Town. Eat at Royale!!!! It's so good for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Africa Cafe is worth checking out even though it's touristy. Umm say hey to Josh at the Brass Bell for me. Oh and get the Ethiopian lady's number. She cooks up a great meal for guests in the living room of her apartment in Mowbray. But don't eat out too much; it's not worth it. The food is very similar to food available in America. I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you buy groceries and cook most of your meals. Pack your lunch and bring it to campus. Spend your money on cooler stuff!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was glad to visit Robben Island. Get to as many beaches as possible! Wish I had spent more time at the beach. Climb Table Mountain! And make South Africa friends, I mean it! You didn't go to South Africa to stay in your comfort zone. Duh.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Don't travel alone. Do not! Carry a purse with a zipper, preferably one with a strap that goes across your chest. Don't leave your belongings unsupervised even for a moment. I got pick-pocketed and I got my camera stolen while I was in Cape Town. It was due mostly to my own stupidity--didn't follow the above advice. But Cape Town is not a safe city, and you will have to get used to people asking you for money every day, all the time. If you have some spare change and there's a corner store close by, I recommend you buy them that loaf of bread. But that's just me.

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)

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? You'd better want to learn about race, i.e. confront the incredible ignorance you didn't know you suffered from (if you're me). And be prepared to take some insults about the US.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Conflict in World Politics

Course Department: POL 3000F
Instructor: Seeger
Instruction Language: English
Comments: A whole lot of reading. Prof. Seeger is hugely intimidating, although I hear she's nice if you meet her in person. Very little tolerance for...anything. Rude. Class a lot of work.
Credit Transfer Issues: No problems.