10 Reasons to Study Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa
- It is the oldest city in South Africa
- It is full of young people… The median age in the city is 26 years-old
- It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world Read more
About six months from now our students who studied abroad in Southern Africa will be boarding their planes to return home. Most of you will likely be doing so begrudgingly, kicking and screaming along the way, grabbing onto anything possible in order to stay put longer. Upon your return home there will be some culture shock, and you will likely be subjected to questions such as, ‘Were there elephants outside your door?’ ‘What was it like on Robben Island?’ ‘Did you hike to the top of Table Mountain?’
Anyone who has done their research on what to see in Southern Africa would ask these questions – but there is much more to explore in this beautiful region. This is why I have constructed a Southern Africa “Bucket List” for places to check out along the road less traveled. Following this list will fully immerse you into this great region. Just click on each item to read more. Be sure to do your own research too – there is still so much more to see beyond this list!
Enjoy a full-moon hike at Lion’s Head Mountain
Catch a concert at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Spend a night (or three) in Coffee Bay
Living in a country that is a literally on the opposite end of the world, we as Americans may be predisposed to various notions or judgments about the foreign land of South Africa. As future students of the country, it is important to recognize the 1st and 3rd world elements that South Africa entails. Of course with your acceptance into some of the country’s (and world for that matter) most respected universities you are fortunate to reap the benefits of the best that South Africa has to offer. Whether it be living in the heart of Cape Town, just a cab ride from the Camp’s Bay of Table Mountain, taking a quick cruise in Stellenbosch for a wine tasting on a beautiful vineyard, walking out of your dorm in Port Elizabeth for a quick morning surf, or venturing to the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu Natal you as students will be able to see the best of South Africa has to offer. Read more
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. Read more
Sitting at my desk at Tufts almost 8,000 miles away from the city where I will spend five months of my life, it’s easy to think of studying abroad as being permanently in the somewhat distant future. However, the rational part of my brain knows that soon I will be leaving behind the school and the people that I have loved for two and a half years, and while I will be making new memories with people I haven’t met yet, life will go on without me at Tufts.
Luckily I also know that it will be worth it. While I’m trying not to form too many expectations about my semester abroad, I somehow consistently find myself eagerly reading other students’ blogs, or Google-mapping random streets in Cape Town and trying to imagine myself walking down the bustling sidewalks. I can’t wait to see the country that is home to such international inspirations as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the country whose people formed a wave of activism so powerful it was able to overturn one of the most profoundly oppressive racist regimes of the 20th century. I can’t wait to learn about South Africa from the perspective of someone living there, to hike the Table Mountains, see the sun set on the African coast, experience the diversity of UCT, and fully immerse myself in the culture of the city I have been daydreaming about for months.
I’ve been home for three and a half weeks now, and sometimes I think that the five months I spent in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa was all some wonderful kind of dream. I mean, how could I have squeezed so much into so little time? Student teaching in a township, making tons of ceramics (which, by the way, were great gifts for friends and family) hiking into Lesotho, cage-diving with the Great Whites, doing the world’s highest bungee jump, hiking Table Mountain (twice) trail rides on horseback – this could not have been my life. But every now and then I wake up and think I’m back in the dorm at UKZN, or try to text a South African friend, and it dawns on me that it really did happen…I really did just have the most incredible experience! Read more
When parents come to visit, it usually means days of museums, tours, and fancy lunches, it usually means hotels and mature, censured conversations and saying goodbye to friends for a little family time. When Sarah Kass comes to visit, it means normal life plus one. My mom had a perception of Cape Town as The Africa of The Apartheid. Although the ramifications of that period in history unfortunately remain and affect Cape Town today, the city itself is a vibrant metropolis with the opportunities and wonders of a first world municipality. As you will see, the adventures we took part in were far from my mom’s expectations, yet, they still awed and surprised her with their uniqueness and variance from American culture… Read more
I thought I would devote a bit to the seemingly random activities I end up involved in here in Cape Town…what would life be like without the usual (very usual, in my case) randomness, hey? The thing I’ve realized since I’ve been here is that South African life, in all it’s wonder, excitement, and seemingly primitive nature at times, it is surprisingly familiar. As the mystery has worn off, the sense of home emerges. This is no longer a vacation; it is a lifestyle (perhaps a luxurious lifestyle, but yet I will count it as such). And what would “life” be like without the usual patterns and the moments that, although seem silly, make all the difference. When I leave South Africa, it’s not the beaches and shopping and sights that I will miss most; it is the life, my life. Here is a sneak peak into my “normal” life. Read more
I write this in school coffee shop on an oversized comfy-chair with two legs clad in warm leggings hanging off the armrest. Every morning, I wake up—not too late, but definitely not too early—in a warm bed with four blankets to make up for the lack of any sense of a proper-working heater in my apartment. The day, everyday, is filled to the brim with classes, practices, meetings, and the daily dose of dining hall. To me, this life is “normal”, usual for a student my age. Any other life seems irregular and foreign. What do I want to gain from my experience abroad? Simple: a new “normal”.
Perhaps the greatest difference between a tourist and a full-time student abroad is what each call “home”. Home is a place of identity, support, and comforting familiarity; it is a context in which things are regular. A tourist walks through the Uffizi Galleria in Florence or roams the royal castles in Stockholm as a visitor, wide-eyed and perhaps feeling a little out of place. For a student abroad, however, sunbathing on the beach in Barcelona or hiking to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town are not out of ordinary, for those are the adventures that become regular, and those the places that become a part of “home”. Read more
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