Alumni Spotlight: Autumn Terry


Autumn recently discovered her growing passion for learning and experiencing new cultures and traveling. She is patiently waiting to see where life will send her next.

Why did you choose this program?

My heart was initially captivated with the thought of studying abroad in London. I also wanted to get my hands deep and dirty in my social work major. My home university suggested the best option for my goals would be an internship in Cape Town, South Africa. I was very skeptical at first glance. I had never considered studying abroad in a country like South Africa. I did some research on the CISabroad website and really liked how the program was set up.

My study abroad adviser also connected me with another student at the university that had completed the exact same program. We met and discussed CISabroad's Cape Town internship program. I could tell he had enjoyed it immensely. His enthusiasm about Cape Town was the final push I needed to choose this program.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

CISabroad held a pre-departure webinar and my home university held a pre-departure orientation for all students that would be going abroad for the summer. Both of these pre-departure courses were very helpful. Furthermore, CISabroad was very good at answering any questions I had before going to Cape Town. I spoke with CISabroad's internship advisor, Keegan, a great deal before departure. She was very kind and easy to speak with when I had questions or concerns.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't let fear hold you back from doing whatever you want to do in Cape Town. Cape Town has its frightening scenes and moments. If you walk around this city constantly afraid, then you will definitely miss out on opportunities. Don't be afraid to venture out alone (just don't go hiking alone!). Just be aware of your surroundings!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day in the life of this program varies from person to person. Participants have the freedom to choose what they want to get out of the internship. If you take the time to communicate with your supervisors up front, then you get to choose when and what times you want to come in to work.

Every Friday, all of the individuals in this program were given the choice to join a group activity/excursion! Some activities I was able to participate in included a hike to Elephant's Eye Cave, another hike to Cape Point (the most south western tip of Africa), several wine tasting trips, and a braai at one of the largest townships in South Africa!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was being able to survive and function independently in a place like Cape Town, South Africa. I moved to a university that is six hours away from my hometown. So I am used to not being near the people I love all the time. But the fear I had before going to South Africa was a different kind of fear. This new type of independence I would be facing in SA was scary to me. I had no way to drive myself around, the time difference would probably hinder me from being able to call home whenever I wanted, I would be going to a totally new country alone!

I was worried I would be thrust into the midst of a city that I couldn't handle. When I first arrived in Cape Town, homesickness and culture shock had chosen me as its next victim. Both really hit me hard. I was immediately afraid I would not be able to be independent while I was abroad. I overcame my fears and struggles by keeping in contact with my family and friends daily and by keeping a journal.

The journal helped me reflect back each day I was in South Africa. I like to go back and read some of my early entries throughout the entire months I was there. It helped me remember some of the challenges I faced and overcame those first few weeks. Keeping a journal helped me realize that I could and was capable of being my own independent person while abroad.

What's your favorite memory while you were abroad?

Cape Town is such a diverse city. There are 11 official languages and you will probably hear all of them (plus more!) if you choose to travel there. It is a city full of diversity and culture. There is so much to do in Cape Town! I believe there is truly something for everyone. Cape Town has beaches, mountains, vineyards, surfing, cafes and coffee shops, safaris, everything!

My most memorable experience while in South Africa was a hike to Cape Point, the most southwestern tip of Africa. During the hike, we sat on jagged cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was the most beautiful, peaceful and chaotic view I've ever seen. One slip of the foot and you could fall into the rushing waters below. It was such an exhilarating, breathtaking experience.