Cape Town Has Something to Offer for Every Type of Traveler

Academics: 8
Support: 9
Fun: 10
Housing: 7
Safety: 6

I studied in Cape Town, South Africa for six months with IES for the spring 2019 semester. The program was supportive in terms of responding to students' needs, arranging an orientation with lots of culturally immersive activities, and educating us about local culture. I would say there was less support once the semester got underway. We had lots of freedom but also had the security of knowing there was a fully staffed office just down the road from our accommodation to answer any questions we had. The field trips throughout the semester were well-planned and lots of fun. We also had RA's living in close proximity if we ever needed assistance.

There were two options for housing through this program: either communal living in a house with a shared kitchen and bathrooms or studio style apartments. I opted for the first option and really enjoyed it. There was also the option to switch your housing placement if you were unsatisfied.

I only took courses at the University of Cape Town, but the program also offered classes at the IES Center. I was fairly disappointed with the quality of the academics at the University. The different grading system, lack of clear grading criteria, and general unorganized nature of the classes was frustrating at times. However, learning more about the culture through the classes was a huge part of my experience. The classes changed my perspective on different ideologies I held which I now realize were the result of only taking classes from a western perspective before attending UCT. Obviously, IES has no control over the academics at the University, but they did act as a liason if any issues arose between students and professors/admin. The academics were challenging and classes required a lot of dedication to receive high marks.

The local culture was easy to adapt to because everyone spoke English and people were generally very friendly and willing to talk to you. There were lots of clubs to get involved in at the University and endless activities in the area to participate in. Honestly, the people who had the best experiences tended to be open to the opportunities available. I rarely said no to doing anything while I was there and ended up having an incredible semester. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a study abroad experience with opportunities beyond what a typical European program would offer, since Cape Town not only had an amazing nightlife but also hiking, service learning opportunities, and the chance to be immersed in a non-westernized culture.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed