Prior to arriving in Cape Town, South Africa, I knew that I was going to be studying in a very developed city, but I was still not quite sure what to expect in terms of the people and their culture. I remember feeling very anxious at first, but in a matter of about three to four days in what was initially an unfamiliar city, I began to feel more at home.
Right when I landed, I felt very welcomed by the IES Abroad staff because they immediately made me feel safe. The accommodations of the Program are extremely nice at the Mojo Hotel. My favorite part of the Hotel is its food market because it is very convenient to get lunch there in between class and service-learning. In terms of the setup of activities Program, I feel like it was very well planned out because the IES staff did a great job in providing us with a great number of options for certain activities, such as scenic drives, animal encounters, hiking, and more. In other words, they did not try to force us all to partake in the same activities and actually wanted us to partake in activities we were most interested in. In terms of service-learning and the cultural aspect of the Program, everything I learned definitely exceeded all my expectations. For example, I did not expect to see so much diversity in the hospitals, and I did not expect to hear so many different stories and learn about the wide variety of backgrounds patients come from. At one of the hospitals, I was lucky enough to see surgery, specifically the removal of an entire colon, which is so exciting as an undergraduate student. In terms of the course work of the South African Health Care class, I think the terms and theories we discussed in class were actually useful because they applied to our encounters with different patients during service-learning. I also did not think the assignments were too overwhelming, in fact I actually enjoyed writing the reflective piece at the end of the course because I got to reflect on how much I actually learned during the six weeks of the Program.
All in all, I feel like IES Abroad allowed me to really push myself to try new things during all the different activities, service-learning, and during my free-time. To all future students interested in this Program, my biggest piece of advice is to get out there and try new things during your free-time, like eating at exotic restaurants, going to comedy shows, completing the Three-Peak-Challenge, going to a traditional braii, and so much more. The city of Cape Town has so much to offer and I am so thankful for IES for giving me the opportunity to travel to the beautiful country of South Africa and take so much back with me back home.