In three days I will be jetting off to live in South Africa for four and a half months. What?! It’s rather hard for my mind to grasp this, even though I’ve been preparing for my study abroad semester for months. As I’ve mentioned my plans to others, I’ve noticed that many ask my reason in choosing to study abroad in South Africa. I’m sure all students who are studying abroad get asked this a lot. As a student in International Relations, I wanted to go somewhere that would be new and completely foreign to me. When I saw Cape Town, South Africa on the list of places I could study I researched the region and programs offered at the university. It looked perfect! I have always wanted to go to South Africa and it is an IDEAL place for someone in my field of study. It is one of the most ethnically diverse places in the continent. It has an interesting history with apartheid and colonization, which makes it a good destination for people who want to learn and see how different cultures interact. The country has eleven official languages! In Cape Town, approximately 28% speak English, 36% speak Afrikaans, and 30% speak Xhosa. I think I’ll be able to get around without a problem by just speaking English (at least I hope so!)
Also, living in a developing country is appealing to me. I wanted a chance to volunteer in my community during my study abroad experience, and the University of Cape Town offers several opportunities to do this. As a place that is changing, it will be really cool to witness the nation’s development. The older you get the harder it may be to live or travel in developing countries where modern conveniences may not be as present. Whereas Cape Town is a modernized city, I’m looking forward to traveling “off the beaten path” as well. I’m looking forward to some hiking, safaris, and adventurous trips!
The University of Cape Town is listed as the highest ranked African university (according to QS World University Rankings), with over 24,000 students studying a variety of subjects ranging from engineering to jazz studies. The campus is located on the slope of Devil’s peak, which is part of the mountainous range that serves as a backdrop to the city of Cape Town. From the pictures, it looks absolutely beautiful! There are also over 100 student organizations that are possible to join, so I’m excited about getting involved in some of the student life!
As my days in Raleigh are dwindling to an end, I’m experiencing different thoughts and emotions. I am the happiest I have ever been in life, and leaving home means leaving a place of contentment. I’m surrounded by amazing people- my family, friends, boyfriend, and those who are part of the N.C. State Wolfpack. Here in the USA, I couldn’t ask for more. As of Wednesday, I’ll be entering a period of months where there are so many aspects of the unknown. If I had to sum all of my feelings into one, it would probably be a mix of “This is going to be phenomenal- the best experience of my life thus far” and “What have I gotten myself into?” There’s no doubt I will miss everyone here, but this new adventure will be something I will not regret.
There are five other N.C. State students studying abroad at the University of Cape Town, and they all are really cool! We’ve helped each other through the visa process, housing applications, and more. It’d be fun to have some N.C. State braais (South African term for an outdoor barbeque) in the near future! Since South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. So we will be arriving during their summertime. Leaving NC’s 20 degree weather for sunny 80 degree weather? Yes please!
Obviously, bringing shorts to Cape Town is a must. However, having an open mind and optimistic mentality are even more important for my trip. I’m an incredibly lucky gal to have this opportunity and I plan on making the most of every single minute that I’m there. Vaarwel America (‘Goodbye’ in Afrikaans), see you in June!