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Abroad Life: South Africa

As someone who did not study abroad, my view of the experience has been based solely on the amazing stories people tell when they come back and Facebook. When I picture abroad life, it’s all castles and pubs, vineyards and sangria. But when I visited friends studying abroad over last spring break, I got to see the more day-to-day aspects of studying in a different country. I wanted to highlight these experiences through this series, Abroad Life. Hopefully these interviews will give everyone, especially those thinking of studying abroad, a better insight into the lives of fellow BC students on their semester abroad- like the fact that they still go to school!

Tala Berro, 2015, Biology and Pre-med, San Francisco, CA

University of Cape Town, South Africa 

What is the university you are studying at like? 

UCT is very diverse and beautiful, with an eclectic study body who are passionate about world issues. There are constant events throughout the main plaza and rugby games are fun. 

What classes are you taking? Are your classes different from how classes are at BC? How? 

I am taking 3 classes: Genetics, Introduction to the History of Cinema, and Gender, Sexuality and Politics in a Contemporary African Context

Classes at UCT are 45 minutes and generally 3-4 days a week with weekly tutorials (discussion sections). They have a system where the lecturer is constantly rotating to allow the lecturer to be an expert on the specific topic being discussed. 

What other types of students study at your university? Are they friendly? Do they like meeting students studying abroad there?

People at UCT are very friendly, though the American stereotype is very prevalent. It can be difficult to break through, but it’s doable!

Where are you living? Do you like it?

I live 20 minutes away in a house of 22 international study abroad students. The house is wild and fun, with everybody doing constant activities. 

Do you do any other activities?

I volunteer for Shawco Health, which is a clinic that runs weekly within the townships in Cape Town. I also went to a speaker supporting Palestine, and the discussion become very heated. Not at all what I would ever see at BC. 

What is a typical day like for you? 

Typically I have lecture from 10-1 everyday, with a lab on Thursdays and Shawco Health on Wednesday. Some days I go to the beach after class, out to dinner, or out to a bar. Activities here are very inexpensive so it makes doing things on the weekdays easier. 

What do you do on the weekends?

On Saturday mornings I go to the Old Biscuit Mill, which is a delicious farmers market with lots of vendors. Then I’ve slowing been checking things off the list such as: Bo Kaap, Kalk Bay, Mzolis, Long Street, Muizenberg, Simons Town. There are a ton of things to do here! I have yet to climb Table Mountain, but that’s next up after a full moon hike on Lionshead!

Where else have you traveled so far?

The second week I was here I went on the Garden Route, which is a trip on the South-Eastern coast of South Africa. There I bungee jumped, pet a lion, rode an elephant, climbed through caves, and went to J-Bay, known for its surf. I also have my mid-semester break trip lined up for Zimbabwe and Botswana! 

What has been your favorite experience so far?

My bungee jumping was quite an epic experience since I have a bad knee I opted to have the bungee attached to my waist. That led to quite a lot of flips in the air that look terribly painful, but surprisingly weren’t. My house has had multiple viewings of the video because it is so ungraceful. 

Anything else people should know about studying abroad in your location?

The exchange rate is awesome and when I am back in America I will probably never purchase anything more than $10. 

 

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