Incredibly rewarding experience- can't wait to go back! Past Review

By (Syracuse University) - abroad from 05/24/2019 to 06/15/2019 with

Study Abroad Programs in South Africa

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about the history of South Africa, and how it has deeply impacted the current state of many infrastructures and society. The things we learned were immediately tied to direct experiences we were able to have, making it that much more meaningful and impactful on my learning. I loved that both local citizens as well as SU employees guided us.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This course exposed me to more than I could have ever imagined in a class setting in New York. Not only were the experiences directly tied into our course material and goals and outcomes for the class, but we had additional guest lectures from Rhodes University that went above and beyond the scope of what I had anticipated learning.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration of the trip was phenomenal. They did everything they could to make for a smooth, professional and fun trip, and I don't think it would have been nearly as rewarding of an experience without the leaders that took me and my peers there. Our days felt organized and well thought-out, and although busy and packed-full, were rewarding as ever and totally worth it.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Staying in Graham Hotel was a great experience because it was almost directly in town, and they treated us very well there.

* Food:

Food is delicious and plentiful!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt incredibly integrated with the local culture. We experienced local cuisine, language, cultural traditions, and we were constantly exposed to their way of life and thinking. We not only visited local historical sites, businesses, and traditional school settings, but we were able to see the places where people lived and spent most of their time, which definitely exposed me the most to the local customs.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

We did not necessarily look into the healthcare system, but rather other social systems that impact the health of individuals and the community as a whole. We did learn a lot about the local hospitals and care facilities, and the vast differences between Makhanda and what we are used to at home. The main health issue we noticed and experienced was the lack of consistent and clean water supply.

* Safety:

Though Makhanda is sometimes referred to as dangerous, I felt mostly safe my entire time there. A lot of education was provided, and multiple precautions were taken when we were out past dark, in smaller groups, or in specific areas known to be more dangerous. There was a good balance of local people letting us know the ways to stay safe and not make us too worried while also exposing us to the realities of everyday life for some people who live and visit Grahamstown, so that we did not get too comfortable with being ignorant of our surroundings.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I could not recommend this program more. It was a great balance between planned out and go with the flow, where things felt intentional, but also laid-back. I loved how multi-faceted the whole experience was- though we were there on a health and education trip, we also learned about the history of Makhanda and South Africa, the ways that people are impacted by other social and economical issues, and the education system as a whole today. We also had lots of time to explore socially, and befriend the kind people who lived in Makhanda, and travel on our own throughout South Africa. This experience is one that I will carry with me always as a professional and as a person, and I'll consider it one of the highlights of my undergraduate career. I really hope to return soon!


* 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)

Things in Makhanda were very affordable, and some of our meals were accounted for. I definitely think some budgeting beforehand would be smart, but as a college student, it felt like an affordable place in regards to food and personal expenses.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We were constantly encouraged to use the language (especially with the Inkululeko students directly), and although it was a tough language to pick up on, we slowly got the hang of it through our daily lessons and exposure in general.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Write things down and practice pronunciation!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • Engagement with community
  • Multi-faceted experiences
  • Experiential learning
* What could be improved?
  • Extended timeframe
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Going in, I did not know anyone besides my facilitator. I was super nervous about spending time in a completely foreign place with people who I didn't even know. It turns out that we all got along really well and I made lifelong friendships with the people who I was able to go with form SU as well as in SA!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!