And the Award Goes To…
With three bursting bags packed and four final exams completed, it’s time to say goodbye to South Africa. It’s hard to believe that nearly five months have passed, yet at the same time life in America seems like a distant memory. In reflecting on my amazing experience studying abroad, I’ve decided to celebrate all of the incredible moments, places, and people I’ve come across rather than dwelling in the bittersweet emotions I feel. Hence, I’d like to introduce the first (and last) Katie’s Cape Town Awards. The following superlatives sufficiently encompass a few of the many highlights of my time here and have earned special places in my memory. Hopefully this list will inspire a few of your own experiences in Cape Town someday!
The award for the biggest contributor to ‘The Big 10’ goes to… CADBURY CHOCOLATES
In case anyone hasn’t heard, the Big 5 are five of the most dangerous animals safari-goers used to hunt. They include lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. Well, being the cheeky interstuds that we are, some of my peers and I have termed the ten extra pounds we’ve gained abroad ‘the Big 10.’ We figure ‘The Big 10’ is an appropriately South African way to describe the biggest thing we’re bringing back to the states—ourselves. It’s not uncommon for study abroad students to gain weight during their term since we’re always looking to experience all that our host country has to offer, and food is a great way to get a taste of the country. Upon arriving in our apartments on the first day, the interstudy staff gave us our first taste of heaven in square form (Cadbury chocolate bars). It’s all been downhill since then. Biscuit chocolate is my favorite, so I may or may not be bringing home three bars of Biscuit milk chocolate and three bars of biscuit white chocolate.
The award for being the most likely to make someone run off the side of a mountain goes out to…CAPE TOWN TANDEM PARAGLIDING
I promise you—paragliding is the closest you’ll ever get to flying. One of the coolest things I did while in Cape Town was flying over the absolutely gorgeous Clifton Beach and Lion’s Head. The feeling of paragliding was so indescribable, and Cape Town is a great pla
ce to give this a test run with its fabulous beaches and scenery. Face your fears (literally) running off the side of a mountain and you won’t regret it!
This next award goes to the place that you’re most likely to spend all of your meal plan allowance money at… none other than GREEN MARKET SQUARE
As a huge outdoor market with every African souvenir you could possibly imagine, Green Market Square has provided a medium through which international students boost the South African economy. It’s always a good time bartering for your goods and you can find some pretty cool things for a great price.
It’s the event where all Americans are proud and loud—the award for most likely to inspire patriotism goes to…THE US VS. BAFANA BAFANA SOCCER GAME AT GREEN POINT STADIUM
In case you missed the game on ESPN 2, the US national soccer team played the South African team at the Cape Town World Cup stadium just a few days ago. All of the interstudy students went to the game as one last hurrah. We had such a great time, especially since most of us regrettably missed the World Cup games, so this was a perfect ‘second best.’ If you saw any Americans on the screen with painted faces, you can bet they were one of ours. I’m proud to be an American—1-0 US victory!
As reflected by ‘The Big 10,’ this next award goes to the place that gives you the most bang for your buck…EASTERN FOOD BAZAAR
In downtown Cape Town, there’s this food-court type place that serves the most amazing eastern- style food. From Indian to Greek to Persian to Chinese, this place offers tons of options, all of which are incredible. My favorites were the bunny chow, dosas, and garlic naan, though I also heard good things about the pizza too. The best part about Eastern Food Bazaar is that you can make one serving of food (an average of R30 or about $4.50) stretch a good three meals…or not, depending on the battle between your taste buds and self control.
This place is most likely to make you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven… CAMP’S BAY AND CLIFTON 4
Cape Town is home to what must be some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. A day at Camp’s Bay or Clifton 4 are sure to cure any bad mood, leave you feeling relaxed, and maybe even cause you to redefine what ‘paradise’ includes. Beautiful white sand, clear water that fades through multiple shades of green and blue, smooth rocks jutting out into the ocean and shady palm trees, that’s what I call paradise… thank you, Camp’s.
Once you start you won’t stop—the place that’s most likely to have repeat customers…ROYALE EATERY
Oh, Royale. Our lives were changed about 8 weeks before leaving Cape Town when we first tried Royale’s peanut butter & banana milkshakes. After going once, my friend Jen decided that she refused to leave Cape Town unless she ate at Royale at least six times. True to her word, our sixth visit to Royale happened last week. My favorite milkshake at Royale is either the chocolate brownie or chocolate banana, but one sip of the peanut butter & banana milkshakes and most people are fans for life. Their burgers are pretty good too. If you want the Royale experience, make sure to go Monday-Thursday between 4:00 and 6:00 because they offer R30 burgers.
Most study abroad students don’t anticipate becoming famous while abroad; however, if you’re seeking fame, the class most likely to make you famous is…AFRICAN DANCE (MUZ1800)
As part of our African Dance class, we were required to participate in a unique and cool opportunity. An aspiring South African band needed dancers for their new music video, so they approached UCT’s dance school for people. Our professor signed us up, so one seventeen hour weekend and an autographed CD later, our class is basically famous. Well, ok…famous is pushing it. But we are backup dancers in a music video to be aired on MTV. Look it up if you want to—the song is “Caves” by The Plastics.
This one’s for the chocolate lovers. The place most likely to attract chocoholics is…COCOA WAH WAH
If you love chocolate, get Cocoa Wah Wah’s chocolate cake. Just do it. Or, you can mix it up with a fudge-filled chocolate cookie, but make sure to ask for a side of the white whipped-cream-like dipping sauce. Located in Rondebosch (about a five minute walk from campus), Cocoa Wah Wah is the perfect place for an after-class treat.
With all of the good food in Cape Town, you need to exercise! The award for the best workout goes to… TABLE MOUNTAIN HIKE
The hike up Table Mountain is a little bit brutal, but entirely necessary to add to any Cape Town bucket list. It’s a steep two-hour uphill that will make your legs and lungs burn, but the view from the top is so gratifying. You can’t leave Cape Town without doing this one!
The award for the most humbling experience goes to…WHALE WATCHING/SEA KAYAKING IN HERMANUS
Interstudy took us whale watching, sea kayaking, paintballing, and quad biking one weekend in Hermanus during whale season. If boating next to a whale doesn’t make you feel small, I’m not quite sure what will. It was so cool to see tons of these amazingly huge creatures while whale watching and sea kayaking. Note to anyone who gets sea sick—make sure to take your meds before getting on the boat. For those of us who are not fortunate enough to have strong stomachs, much of our whale watching time was spent quarantined. Despite the sickness, though, my weekend in Hermanus was absolutely wonderful and tons of fun.
If Cape Town had a soundtrack, this song is most likely to be #1 on the CD…WAKA WAKA
After arriving in the post-World Cup craze that captured all of South Africa, it seemed as though Shakira’s World Cup theme song, Waka Waka, was in escapable. I promise you, every time I hear that song I’ll always be taken back to Cape Town.
For those of you who could use a little R&R, the best weekend getaway award goes to…CEDERBERG
About a two hour drive from Cape Town, Cederberg provides a quiet place for great hiking and relaxation. I’d highly suggest the hike to the waterfall. It’s not hard, and the waterfall is awesome to explore. I felt a little bit like I was in the Jungle Book while playing beneath the falls.
Since we all love to eat so much, the most entertaining meal in Cape Town is…STARDUST THEATRICAL DINING
At Stardust, the food is awesome and the entertainment is better. The servers all take turns performing popular songs and manage to get the entire audience singing and dancing along. Whether you like dinner or shows, Stardust is sure to please.
After all is said and done, I wouldn’t trade my study abroad experience for the world. I feel so blessed to have spent nearly five months in Cape Town. The whole experience seems surreal, and my African adventure is reflected in the personal changes I’ve ascertained here. I wish I could put into words what being in Cape Town has meant to me, but I think it’s something that each person just has to experience for themselves.
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”… thanks for everything, Cape Town.