IES Abroad Cape Town Direct Enrollment – University of Cape Town

Video and Photos

Students riding elephants in South Africa
Students riding elephants in South Africa
Students on a hike
Students on a hike
Students on a hike
Students on a hike
Students enjoying ice cream
Students enjoying ice cream
Students on a hike
Students on a hike
Aerial view of Cape Town
Aerial view of Cape Town
UCT
UCT
The sunset at Camps Bay- the photo doesn't do it justice. One either side of the photo, there is Table Mountain, Lions' Head, and Devil's Peak facing the sea!

About

University Of Cape Town
Service learning in and around Cape Town is a core component in our program. Students taking one of the IES Abroad courses are required to complete 60 hours of volunteer work while in Cape Town. Twenty of your 60 hours of volunteer work will be at Egoli, a settlement that receives no government services like water or electricity.

Scholarships

IES Abroad Scholarships
IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 26 reviews
  • Academics 8.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 7.8
Showing 1 - 15 of 26
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Ameer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

#StudyAbroadSoBlack

My study abroad experience in Cape Town, South Africa was nothing less than liberating and transformational. I am a first-generation college student from Buffalo, NY at Howard University, therefore my experience abroad truly inspired me to encourage more HBCU students and black students to study abroad since we are underrepresented in these programs. My favorite class abroad was Community Development in Context (South Africa). This class truly added more to my study abroad experience and helped me interact more effectively with the local students and citizens. For example, in this class we learned about South African history from Apartheid to modern-day inequalities and inequities in South African higher education. Ultimately, my favorite thing about study abroad was the service-learning component. I had the opportunity to volunteer with 3 different organizations related to education, which is a field I plan to pursue as part of my long-term career goals.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future study abroad students is to immerse yourself! Study abroad is what you make it, but the best way to stretch and enjoy yourself is to fully immerse yourself and continuously put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
Read my full story
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Kimberly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best semester

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.

What would you improve about this program?
The IES program was great, but wish I had been more involved in UCT’s clubs and gotten to know more locals rather than always hanging out with people in the program. Also, the academics were quite stressful so I wish I would have seeked out resources to have helped with the transition.
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Carlos
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

10/10 Experience

Before I went to Cape Town, people would tell me that "studying abroad is a life-changing experience," and I had a hard time believing them. Initially, I thought that studying abroad was a chance to experience a different world. But I did not think that experiencing a "different world" would change me. To me, it made sense that study abroad students would experience a different world and gain skills in intercultural communication--among other things--as a result. However, I reasoned that experiencing a different world and having one's life fundamentally changed were two mutually independent events. That said, living in South Africa for a semester and being able to take classes at the University of Cape Town changed my mind. Sure, I acquired skills, but more importantly, the radically different culture and world I got to experience forced me to change. Admittedly, I'm rather introspective, but studying abroad led me to reflect on all the differences I saw between South Africa, America, and their respective citizens. Moreover, I then had to decide how I would think and live moving forward. So, when people say that studying abroad is a life-changing experience, they're not lying or overexaggerating. Studying abroad gives students the chance to reflect on and be changed by all that they experience. And IES Abroad made this process as smooth as it could have been.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would have applied for my Study Visa much earlier
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Victoria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cape Town Has Something to Offer for Every Type of Traveler

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.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I regret not taking more of an initiative with activities or trips I wanted to do. I didn't really go into the experience with a good idea of what I wanted to get out of it, and ended up going along with what other people in my program were doing most of the time. I still had an incredible experience, but I wish I had been a bit more independent from people in my program.
Cape Town
Analee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience!

Studying abroad was always a dream of mine, but I didn't know if it would actually become a reality. Fast forward to my junior year, and in the fall semester, I start to seriously plan on going abroad. I originally planned on studying in Granada, Spain, until I became aware of the opportunity to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa.

Before fully committing to Cape Town, I spoke to students who had studied abroad there during previous semesters, and ALL of them absolutely loved it and said it was the most amazing and beautiful experience of their lives. I decided Cape Town was where I wanted to go and started to get extremely excited.

The students who I had spoken to did not go through a study abroad program. Therefore I was very hesitant in doing so when my study abroad coordinator recommended that I did. She was right, going abroad with IES was the best decision that I made! Immediately from the moment of arriving at the airport, IES representatives were so welcoming and easy to locate, I remember that day like it was yesterday.

Of course, going to a new place for six months is nerve-wracking, but IES provided fantastic housing, support, and field trips just to name a few things. I miss my IES family in Cape Town and which I could go back immediately!

Gwen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Breaking patterns abroad

Studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa with IES was everything I could've wanted and more. Academically, I was pushed hard, and the vibrancy of a major coastal city provided a multitude of activities to explore during my free time. I knew that I wanted to study abroad somewhere very different from the U.S., but I also knew that I'd do my best work in my home language. South Africa, then, was a great fit for me, and still provided the opportunity to hear and learn about the dozens of other languages that coexist there- even walking down the street is a stimulating experience. IES made me feel cared about as an individual, and supported me from the pre-departure phase all the way to my return to the U.S. If I could go back in time, I would choose them again. In such a creative and support space, I was really able to step out of my comfort zone and deviate from comfortable patterns I'd fallen into in the U.S. Incredible value and learning to embrace spontaneity were hallmarks of my time abroad with IES.

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly can't think of anything to improve upon.
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Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cape Town Study Abroad: Daily Lessons

Studying Abroad with IES Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa has been more significant in my life than I could have imagined. I knew I would have fun, meet new people, and experience unfamiliar things, but I gained so much more than I expected to. I learned and improved skills such as understanding cultural differences, working in diverse teams, listening, tolerating ambiguity, and being flexible. I explored other countries in Southern Africa, including Botswana and Zimbabwe. I stepped out of my comfort zone daily, from trying new foods to learning new languages.

None of this would have been possible without the incredible support from IES Abroad. They provided medical, social, academic, mental, and cultural support in every way. They organized several (free!) field trips and excursions, many of which would have been impossible to do independently.

Default avatar
Bruno
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fun, challenging and meaningful

The University of Cape Town has a very beautiful campus that is centrally located. It is a short distance to the city centre. It also has many restaurants and bars nearby. The academics can be challenging at times but if you seek help should be ok. The campus life is very lively and there is always something happening. For those who are lovers of landscapes and nature this is the perfect experience for you. The highlight of my experience was the local tours we had as part of our program. We cooked local food, went to winelands, visited townships which overall created a very holistic experience. It was a life time experience which only helped me grow. Most importantly, the staff of the program is very supportive with anything. It really was home away from home.

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Allison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible experience and tons of unique opportunities with IES Cape Town

The city, school, and program completely exceeded my expectations and I could not have asked for a better semester. If I hadn’t been a senior, I would’ve extended my time in Cape Town for a second semester. The IES Cape Town staff went above and beyond for their students. They planned several fun activities and field trips throughout the entire semester so we were really able to experience everything. The RAs were also extremely helpful and involved. They showed us around the school, helped us set up our phones, schedule doctors appointments, etc. Cape Town is the perfect city for study abroad because there are so many different things to do and see.

woman standing by mural
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Coolest Thing I have Ever Done

If I had the opportunity to go to Cape Town with IES Abroad all over again, I would go in a heartbeat. Being in Cape Town was amazing! The IES Abroad staff was helpful and super friendly. Our housing was nice and close to campus. Our RA's were knowledgable about Cape Town and easy to get along with. IES even puts together optional trips, such as our mid semester break trip to Kruger National Park. In Cape Town there are a million things to do and see. The hardest part about being in Cape Town was probably trying to get everything done!!

What would you improve about this program?
The biggest way the program could be improved is by more clearly explaining the gradings system that is put in place at UCT so students can make preparations before arriving in Cape Town.
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Sally
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

the best semester!!

I had the most amazing time in Cape Town. I honestly cannot think of one thing I would change. IES did an amazing job of planning activities for us while also giving us enough free time to explore on our own. The academics in Cape Town are pretty different from in the states, but the program did a really good job of helping us prepare for that. We lived in an awesome location, right at the bottom of campus. Because it was a small program this year, we all lived on the same property which allowed all the IES students to get really close. Our RAs were amazing too. They were really supportive when needed, and were really helpful with respect to helping us get acclimated to the city. I am obsessed with Cape Town, as it had everything I wanted in an abroad experience. I was the only person from my home university going, which allowed me to really branch out. It's a large city, but I was still able to do a lot of things outdoors. I spent a lot of time hiking, which is one of my favorite activities. The people in Cape Town are amazing, and I met so many amazing South Africans that I am still in contact with. While there are challenging aspects of going abroad anywhere, I think the challenges I faced in Cape Town (like being faced with the realization of how much privilege I have) really stretched me in positive ways. Going to Cape Town was the best decision I have ever made.

What would you improve about this program?
I truly cannot think of one thing that I would change.
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Ellen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Home Away From Home

To say that my experience in Cape Town was life changing would be an understatement. My time in South Africa will be forever imprinted in my memory. There is not a single moment that I did not love, waking up in the morning and seeing Table Mountain, looking out at the view from the University of Cape Town, seeing the amazing IES staff almost every day, exploring this beautiful city, and meeting the amazing people in South Africa.

IES ensures that you have a support system while you are abroad. They keep you in the loop with what is going on, they make sure you are safe and healthy, and they always welcome you into the office. They truly become your abroad family.

Cape Town is not just a place I visited or studied. It is a place that changed my life and became a home... and I cannot wait to go back home again soon.

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Lily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Semester to remember

Everything from the breathtaking views from Table Mountain to the dynamic and passionate student body at the University of Cape Town to the abundant opportunities for adventure attributed to a truly life-changing study abroad experience. The programs and staff at IES helped us integrate into a place that was so different from what many of us were used to and helped us find a home in South Africa.

Default avatar
Manal
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Feels Like Home--But Much More Vibrant and Exciting

Cape Town is very much an vibrant city that looks/feels like any other western city. There is this prospection that Africa isn't as 'developed' or 'modern' as other continents. But honestly, South Africa has the same kinds of malls, 'organic' food stores, technology, pop cultural; essentially everything you find at your home can be found there as well. The biggest difference you notice right way once you arrive is how unfairly distributed these 'developments' are. My program director put it perfect, she says that South Africa has one leg in the developed world and the other in the underdeveloped world. (I recognize that the terms 'developed' and 'underdeveloped' aren't respective of the country's growth in other areas and seen as disrespectful to describe countries as such, so please disregard my lack of a more appropriate terminology.) But yes, the divide is very prominent.
Anyway, Cape Town was still incredible as it has several attractions to keep you busy for weeks (seal snorkeling, paragliding, hiking the three mountains there, festivals, the wine country, SO MUCH FOOD, the two oceans!..). But there are also various communities available that host cultural events for study abroad students (traditional Xhosa dinners, attend a famous braii restaurant, visit Nelson Mandela's home and IES even organizes homestay weekends) that allows you to experience the rich customs of South Africa. So if you are an adrenaline junky or inquisitive butterfly, Cape Town provides a lot of options to explore.
In terms of safety, it is simple: don't do something in Cape Town, that you wont do in a big US city (like NYC). Theft (pickpocketing especially) is a common crime in Cape Town and it happens because you're not aware of your surroundings, walking around with your Iphone out, or not properly putting your things away. Some friends of mine had their things taken because of these reasons, but it didn't happen to me because I tried to be cautious when I was in public streets. The IES program provides a lot of info that address how to protect your stuff and it really helps if you follow those rules, nevertheless they are available in case it happens to you, so don't worry too much!

What would you improve about this program?
I think the program needs to prepare students about how difficult UCT's standards are. The standards aren't impossible; they work on the system where there is less work meaning they weight extremely heavily ( i.e. the final is 50 to 60% of your final grade for example). Having some sort of sample syllabus or IES alumni testimonies about each class they took as to give students a look into what their prospective class' classwork is like, might help a lot.
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Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cape Town- Spring 2016

Making the decision to study abroad in South Africa was a daunting one, as I watched most of my friends leave for Europe/Australia. From the moment I landed in Cape Town, however, IES made the transition into a new continent and culture not only effortless, but also fun. The staff is incredible; they put the students first, and ensure that our happiness and safety are always taken care of. One of my first nights, I got extremely sick and had to be taken to an emergency room. Not only did my IES RA accompany me, but the director of the program came and stayed with me until I was able to go home. They assisted us with choosing classes, finding extracurriculars, and other travel plans! They also provided opportunities for all of the students to become close, which I really appreciated. I miss Cape Town and the IES faculty dearly!

What would you improve about this program?
The program was great; the only thing that could slightly be improved is the transition into the University of Cape Town. That was the only time that I felt particularly stressed out!