Deciding on a study abroad program is a difficult decision ecause there are so many out there, and you’re not sure which one is the best fit. I was looking for a way to study my major public health in depth in a global setting. IES’s program in Cape Town allowed me to do this. I was able to take the IES course Community Health in Context in addition to my University of Cape Town classes which was a small class that allowed for discussion and getting to know the professor, and also gave us the opportunity to do service learning. This class augmented my learning experience in South Africa.
In addition to the IES course I took 3 other classes at the University of Cape Town. The academics at the were challenging, and could be frustrating at times because of the differences in workload and grading compared to the US. However, I did learn a great amount in relation to South Africa's history and culture.
IES staff were kind, hardworking, and helpful with anything that need during your six months abroad. They helped with any issues that may have arised in academics (both at the University of Cape Town and the IES courses), housing accommodations, service learning, field trips, etc. They are there for you if you are having a problem adjusting to the differences in academics or living abroad, or if you just want to stop in for a quick chat.
Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed about IES were the free field trips which included Boulder’s Beach (penguin colony!) a Cape Malay cooking class, tour of Bo-Kaap, District 6 museum, Old Biscuit Mill, etc. They also offered to optional excursions at an additional subsidized cost (highly recommend) which was the Garden Route and a safari at Kruger National Park.
Cape Town has so much to offer from hiking to surfing, food markets, and shopping. It’s full of history and culture with many museums to visit, as well as Robben Island (a must).
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience abroad because I met so many great people from all around the world, and was able to learn about a new culture and the history of South Africa.