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Cape Town in 300 Words (Not an Easy Task)


Somehow I’ve been here for over a month already, and I can’t decide if I feel like I’ve been here forever or no time at all. South Africa is an amazing, confusing, beautiful and often frustrating place. Just on the short ride from the airport to where we stay near UCT campus, we passed townships of tiny tin shacks, suburbs reminiscent of the U.S., and the modern skyline of Cape Town flanking the coast, all set on the impressive backdrop of Table Mountain. I remember thinking, through a disorienting fog of jetlag that turned out to linger for almost a week, that I had never seen such a seemingly disjointed country.

During orientation week at UCT, we attended a talk intended to prepare us for the shock/amazement/fear/excitement that comes with studying abroad. The speaker explained that the typical emotional trajectory of the study abroad student over the course of the semester was an initial rush of euphoria, followed by a phase of disenchantment and frustration, and eventually leading to acceptance and comfort with the new culture. I don’t know if I’m an anomaly in this, but I’ve pretty much felt a mix of all of those emotions every day since I’ve been here. There are the aspects of South African culture, such as the apparent inability to accomplish anything from course registration to transportation efficiently, that consistently test my patience.  Luckily however, I have also had so many amazing experiences so far, like petting a cheetah, surfing in the Indian Ocean at gorgeous Jeffrey’s Bay, and seeing the stunning view of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain, that far outweigh the frustrating things and make me so happy I chose to study abroad here. With incredible beaches, insanely beautiful scenery, endless opportunities for entertainment, and people who love to have fun, I am definitely looking forward to another three months in Cape Town.

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