UCT: The Peak under the Mountain

University of Cape Town, Africa’s premier university, is not like anyone could ever imagine. We rest at the foot of Table Mountain; with 27 000 members, we still are a family that calls this campus ‘home’. Since we do pride ourselves on excellence and diversity, we do not conform to any routines of student cliques or behavior. So, let me take you on a journey; a guided tour of our beloved campus and all those who dwell in it.

The highlight of everyone’s daily walk to campus has to be our very own version of the Spanish stairs. Layered strategically, one flight after the other, an Athenic view of Memorial Hall stands strong and reminiscent of our struggle to survive and as a symbol of education and equality.

You can float through the lunchtime seas of students flagging along our main campus avenue under the skies of the ‘Mother City’. Many sunbathers, gossip girls, hipster art students, and visiting dignitaries will relish in the good sun rays right under Memorial Hall.

Of course, we have the Oppenheimer Library. This is where dreams are made, dreamt of, and worked towards everyday. In there, you will find the real works of art of UCT: the different students of each faculty, hustling to get those degrees.

  • The Engineering and Built Environment Faculty: These are our disciplined, hard-working and, surprisingly, incredibly creative students. Everyone jokes about how they have no friends because they’re always working, but at least they have each other while they crawl themselves through this tough degree. If you see them at 8 am, it’s either because they’re there for early morning lectures or they most likely stayed in the library all night.

  • Architecture and Land Science: If you ever want to design your apartment according to the funkiest South African trends, we have got just the students for you! In this faculty lies the nocturnal hipsters, who weave through the night with their bottomless coffees, microwavable dinners, and hibernate only temporarily. You’ll most likely find them floating around campus with new structures and probably already grieving about the long night ahead.

  • Humanities and Arts: Whether it’s the philosophical writers, the hip film students, the deep thinkers, creative artists, social reformers, or the political analysts; you’ll find them at UCT, probably smoking a cigarette outside before cramming for one of many essays they always have to hand in. With their cool sneakers and embroidered jackets made from the eco-friendliest organic materials, their spirits roam intelligently in academic forums and political gatherings. Tea in hand and a book by their side; they never fail to impress you!

  • Law: Here are the future attorneys, who fortunately have their own little haven down at Middle Campus. The brightest, most clued up, and argumentative individuals are here and hold the law of our land in their hands! They are suited, they are mooted, and they are ready for a fight!

  • Commerce: Probably the most connected, funniest, and well-dressed students on campus. They always walk from lecture to lecture in chattering cliques reminiscent of high school, with a stack of textbooks marked with coloured post-its, crying about their dreaded Economics course. If you needed advice about your crippling student budget, they always have the loudest (and to be honest, helpful) opinions and advice for you.

  • Science: The most undercover coolest students on campus who just casually get to dissect snails and frogs all the while getting to wear their very own white lab coats. When often they seem like the brains of UCT, most of them are just struggling to keep their heads above water like the rest of us.

  • Medicine: These students have their own Med Campus so we don’t know if they even exist. Are they all still alive? Has the sleep deprivation killed them yet? Did they survive their practicals? Who knows, but I wish them the best.

UCT runs, not as a singular entity, but through many inherent and interconnected communities. This truly is the beauty of our university. It is not a mere tertiary institution; it is an ecosystem.