Arriving in Cape Town for CIEE's "Fall Block I Open Campus," I was unsure what to expect. I felt ready to experience a new part of the continent (my family is from Kenya and I lived there for 10 years, but was born in the US) in a new light. After staying in an AirBnB the first night, I arrived in Rondebosch from an Uber across from the CIEE building. The first day there was great. Meeting everyone, from the staff to the other students excited me for the next 6 weeks. The first week was a learning curve with orientation and getting to know the 4 other roommates in my apartment. There were only 5 guys out of 18 in the program which is one thing I can say I was surprised about - but I suppose guys are less likely to do study abroad programs.
I took two classes, "Poverty, Development, & Human Rights," with the amazing Professor Nompilo, and, "Intercultural Communication and Leadership," with Akisha. Both courses were excellent, and all very discussion based. The only true busy weeks were week 3 and 5-6 as our midterm essays and finals commenced. Other than that, they were a good balance of work and experiential learning as we went out on excursions nearly every Thursday or Friday. It so happened that my classes were scheduled the same day, which was good and bad. The con was that it made for very long days with each class being three hours a piece with an hour or so in between, and the pro being the fact since classes were only on Monday and Wednesday, I had the ability to plan full day trips, events, and experiences without having to worry about coming back to CIEE on time for class. The other class offered, "Atlantic Crossings," I heard was excellent as well, with many saying it was one of the best classes they had ever taken during their time in college.
During our amazing study tour we embarked on to Muizenberg, Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), Boulder Beach (African Penguins). Besides that, we also had numerous excursions to places such as Khayelitsha, Zeitz MOCAA, and others, and of course - we made sure to go out and have fun on our own. With the South African Rand trading in favor of the dollar (about 15.5 - 16 Rand = 1 USD during our time there), we were able to truly capitalize on all Cape Town had to offer. From Long Street to Sea Point, we visited many clubs, bars, and restaurants, with one of our staples being Stones in Observatory due to its laid back conversational nature. Personally, I was able to go skydiving with Skydive Cape Town (about $300 USD with the video/pictures - beyond worth it), visit the historic Robben Island, hike up Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge (if you truly want to experience the mountain, this is the way - great day trip, but hard hike if you don't usually hike. There are easier routes like Platteklip) and Lion's Head, spend many days at the beach at Camp's Bay or Clifton, venture to Stellenbosch for an amazing full-day wine tour, and so much more. I did all of this and much more during six weeks, actually staying under budget.
Overall, I would do CIEE again if I could. It was so worth it. I made lifelong friends of whom I am already planning to meet up with early next year, was able to reconnect with myself in a way I didn't think I would, and was able to learn so much about a country that has been so successful but faced so much hardship. Even though I only did one block as I had to return to Seattle, I must say 6 weeks is just enough to fully immerse yourself in this amazing city and country. If you want to learn more about my personal experience, we sure to check out my 5 part VLOG series I made during my time there on my Youtube channel, Alfred Mugho - the link is below!