• South Africa
    • Cape Town
Subject Areas
Health Sciences Service Learning Sociology

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level


Price Details
Contact IES Abroad or see website for details: www.IESabroad.org/capetown
Aug 21, 2019
Sep 18, 2018

About Program

Designed for students interested in health-related careers, this program enables you to examine health care delivery in South Africa. Field visits and placements in the townships surrounding Cape Town and a week-long rural excursion in the northern part of South Africa provide firsthand experience with the many health issues that plague South Africa, and the national effort to improve public health.

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$500 - $5,000

Program Reviews

9.55 Rating
based on 11 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 90.91%
  • 7-8 rating 9.09%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 7.8
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.8
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 8 of 11 reviews
Yes, I recommend this program

Go on the best program in the most beautiful city in the world!

I had the time of my life studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa! The city has everything you could want: beaches, beautiful landscapes and mountains for hiking, a vibrant nightlife, downtown shopping, art, and events, historical sites and museums, vineyards and wine-tastings, and much more! There is so much to explore and the time truly flies by. For classes, I took community health, and nutrition & HIV. The teachers were passionate and engaging, and I learned so much from them not just about South African healthcare but also about their culture and life. The classes are fascinating and you truly learn a lot and are at times academically challenged. You also get to go on fantastic trips through your classes, such as to public health centers and natural medicine practices. The final week of the program is class-free, and really just about traveling the country (including a safari!) before you unfortunately have to head back home. If you choose this program, you will make lifelong friends, live in the most incredible city on earth, and change your entire perspective on health, healthcare, and equality.

What would you improve about this program?
Less challenging academics and more exploration of South Africa as a whole, rather than just Cape Town.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Pushing the Boundaries

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.

What would you improve about this program?
This Program can be improved by limiting the number of students accepted, preferably 30 students maximum, because too many students slows down the pace of activities and slows down the pace of service-learning.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Summer in Cape Town

When I left for my summer in Cape Town, I was unsure of what to expect. The program through IES exceeded all of my expectations. The program consisted of service learning and a class taught by a local professor on public health. I learned an incredible amount through service learning as we were able to shadow doctors, pharmacists, physical therapists, etc. I really gained an appreciation for all of the different fields of healthcare and learned a lot about the healthcare system of South Africa. Apart from academics, IES arranged many field trips which allowed us to explore the country. They left nothing out, and it was awesome because I would not have known what to do on my own. In terms of safety, IES made sure we all stayed safe and arranged housing in a safe neighborhood. All in all, I had a fantastic summer in South Africa, and I can't wait to return one day!

3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Journey

My journey in Cape Town, South Africa was an adventure I will never forget. I began my journey with no expectations, predispositions, or an idea of what I had signed myself up for. I learned more than I could ever have imagined about this beautiful country, the intricacy of their health care system, and, most importantly, myself. Through IES Abroad I was given the opportunity to conduct a research project of my choice relating to health care in South Africa and given the background and resources to do so. I loved that I could follow my own passions throughout the class work and focus on the aspects of healthcare that were most interesting to me, personally. The shadowing, done in hospitals throughout South Africa, was by far the most beneficial experience. It allowed me to observe and interact with the healthcare system first hand and gave me the opportunity to encounter some amazing individuals. IES Abroad planned a wide variety of optional activities for me, which was greatly appreciated due to the busy schedule I had throughout my six weeks there. I felt like I experienced the true culture of South Africa throughout these activities and they helped to push me outside of my comfort zone. Most importantly, IES Abroad introduced me to the most amazing friends that I will hold close to me for the rest of my life. Thank you IES Abroad and thank you South Africa for an experience I will never forget.

3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

It gave you everything you could get out of South Africa!

I loved that this program really gave me the full experience. It includes so many field trips that they organize for you and you really get to see all the amazing views and locations that are essential to getting to know South Africa. It taught me a lot about the disparity between communities, the effects of the Apartheid, the beauty of the country's landscapes, the history of their culture, and so much more. This program focuses especially on the health care and development of South Africa's system and you get to experience it first hand. Shadowing at the hospitals and clinics showed me a lot about everyday patient-doctor interactions they face and how they may approach a problem. This can really open your eyes to a lot if you compare it to the health care system of the US.

4 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The best summer yet

The IES Abroad summer program in Cape Town, South Africa was so amazing, it was almost impossible to leave. It helps that Cape Town is a wonderful city, full of things to do and places to explore, and that the program helped you to explore every bit of it. The program had just enough planned activities to keep us constantly moving, while still allowing us enough free time to squeeze in a huge bucket-list of things to do. Planned activities included touring the Garden Route, the Winelands, whale watching, gardens, and much more. This is all outside of the course and service-learning portion of the trip.
I am a public health major, and global health minor, so the course was not only fit to my interests but counted as course credit for my minor at my home university. For those who had other majors, which there were many, the summer is a great way to get extra credit in between the regular school year. The course was an excellent way to study South African history and culture, in the context of health. The service-learning portion allowed you to experience what you were learning in class in the context of the health system. The research project was the best way to interact with the community, and potentially give back with recommendations based on the new research.
The housing was nice and felt safe. There were multiple doors with locks before getting into the room, and a security guard outside 24/7. There were no times where I did not feel safe, and if you took good care of your stuff, you wouldn’t lose anything or get anything stolen.
The housing was within walking distance of the IES center, grocery stores, and restaurants. We could easily take a cab or Uber into other areas of Cape Town. Cape Town as a whole had the most amazing food, all extremely affordable. You could get so many different types of food, all excellent. The people I met, both in the program and locals, were all great. I learned so much just from conversations with people around the city and in our placements.
I hope others will be inspired by this experience as I have been.

3 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Cape Town, South Africa - Summer Health Studies

Enjoy the perfect mix of education and fun in this magical city in one of the culturally richest countries in the world. To start you get to live in comfortable apartments in a gated community so on top of the luxury of the living arrangement you also get security. In my case we had roommates who inevitably became my best friends on the trip.
Being so close to University of Cape Town you also get to be around college students from the area and surrounding regions of South Africa. With this close proximity it was easy to befriend and learn from locals about the real issues facing the people of South Africa.
Half of the educational side of the abroad program is class and the other half is volunteer hours in the public healthcare system. Classes are focused on learning about the history and public healthcare system of South Africa and how South Africans are trying to change the system for the better of all people. Learning from people who currently are involved in reforming healthcare in South Africa made the course more engaging and meaningful to me and all my classmates. The volunteer work took place in a primary health clinic in Cape Town and allowed for hands-on experience with patients and engagement with fellow medical staff from doctors to nurses.
Going in the summer for American students however means being in South Africa for their winter, but have no fear, the highs are around the 70s and lows around the 50s with occasional rain. Good news is the beautiful days outnumbered the rainy days and with each beautiful day comes a breathtaking sunset which can viewed from any number of beaches and mountain tops.
Bottom line if you have any interest in healthcare like pre-med, pre-pharm, pre-PA, and nursing students or in public health you will not only get hands on experience in the field with your volunteer hours but also gain great insight into the issues facing the public healthcare system in South Africa and the rest of the world.

3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Cape Town Summer Public Health Program

I studied abroad in Cape Town during the seven week summer Health Program. This program was amazing because along with taking classes about the public health care system in South Africa, I got to experience it first hand. The 6 credit hour course is supplemented by two separate service learning opportunities. The program enables you to volunteer in both a tertiary health care clinic in Cape Town along with a primary hospital in Nelspruit. During these service learning programs you can see the many different aspects of healthcare in South Africa from watching surgeries, shadowing doctors, working in pharmacies, to even helping local communities understand how to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs and TB. IES abroad also scheduled lots of interesting field trips to places like a TB clinic and the hospital where the first heart transplant was performed. Along with academic related field trips IES planned so many exciting and wonderful excursions including a safari, a three day tour to some of the most beautiful places all over South Africa (which includes the ability to ride an elephant and stand on a beach with penguins), Robben Island, a brief homestay with a family, a wine tour and much more. Cape Town has so much to offer including hiking, surfing, paragliding, visiting local markets, rugby games and so many other wonderful things, that it really did make it the most memorable and amazing experience. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone thinking about any type of health care field and wants to stay in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

What would you improve about this program?
The only problem I had with this program was some a mix up in communication between some of the places where we were supposed to volunteer. While we were still able to volunteer in these places, we were not able to be as beneficial to the community as we wanted to be.
3 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Hi Anita! According to the IES website, you have to be at least 18 years of age and have a Sophomore, Junior or Senior standing when the program begins.