Why did you pick this program?
I chose IES Abroad because the program allowed me the freedom to integrate into the culture and pursue my own interests in Cape Town, while still providing me the support of having a close network of people looking out for me.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
If a friend of mine is even considering going abroad, I do everything I can to encourage them to do so. The 4.5 months that I was in Cape Town helped me develop on a personal, academic, and societal level. Any stress during the application process or picking a program is more than worth it once you arrive in a new place.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I'd remind them that things are going to be different. If you're like me and grew up in the United States without much exposure to any other countries, adjustment may be a bit difficult. However, it is part of the process and only beneficial to you in the long run!
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
In Cape Town, there are three famous mountains peaks called Lion's Head, Table Mountain, and Devil's Peak. Cape Town residents often speak of the three peak challenge, which is when you climb to the top of all three peaks in one day. The three peak challenge was on my Cape Town Bucket List, but I had injured my leg halfway through the semester and by the week before I departed to come home, I still wasn't pain free. Three days before I left Cape Town, my friend and I decided to take the leap and depart on the challenge. The hike was exhausting, but also incredibly beautiful and rewarding. It took twelve hours. My leg hurt, but with lots of Advil, I was able to complete the challenge. When I got back to the United States, I learned that my meniscus had been torn the whole time. Now I sound really tough when I say that I climbed three mountains in one day with a torn meniscus!
Any last words of wisdom?
Be careful of your valuables! Don't bring your smartphone out with you. Cape Town is safe if you take the necessary precautions, but don't take unnecessary risks! Stay with friends, and listen to advice from your program staff and from locals. Lastly, take any opportunity you have to travel.