First Week of Classes or First Week of Tears?

Ameer Dunston headshot
Ameer Dunston
February 21, 2019

My first week of classes at The University of Cape Town were extremely interesting! I went into the week full of optimism and positive thinking. Additionally, my expectations were high because The University of Cape Town is the top university in Africa! Therefore, I entered the week as prepared as possible with a strong desire to succeed despite any hardships thrown my way.

On the first day, I was lost. The University of Cape Town is such a huge university with over 30,000 students from all around the globe. I remember reaching out to my RA, Siphesihle Cele, asking him where certain buildings were located on campus. I looked like a chicken running wild across the street with its head chopped off! Eventually, I figured things out and made it to my 8 a.m. on time. Yes, I said 8 a.m. unfortunately. I would have never imagined I would travel across the globe for study abroad to have an 8 a.m. Monday through Friday for the entire semester. I tried switching to a different class period, but this was the only time the class was scheduled. I am extremely satisfied with the courses I am taking this semester. I am enrolled in financial management, business law, philosophy, and community development. I am most excited for philosophy and community development due to my longing for thinking about the deepest topics you could ever imagine and my love for community uplift and engagement. I am particularly anxious to learn about the context of community development as it relates to the history of Cape Town, South Africa. There is so much rich history here and the more I learn about it each day, the more moved I am. My first week of classes and study abroad experience thus far has been overwhelmingly moving. I have come a long way in life from attending public schools in Buffalo, New York to studying at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa! God has truly blessed me and I am just getting started. There is so much more for me to accomplish.

The first week of classes were a huge adjustment for me, too. The class sizes are huge! I have become accustomed to much smaller class sizes due to my experiences in education thus far. Therefore, this was a new reality I was not prepared for considering I have always had easy accessibility to my teachers and professors. Regardless of this hurdle, I have still managed to talk with each of my professors this semester in an attempt to build meaningful relationships. Additionally, UCT uses Vula as a means of communication with students. This portal was tough navigating, but I figured it out by the end of the week. Also, their syllabus week did not feel like a typical syllabus week. I had at least 2 pages full of notes on the first day alone! Additionally, I am intrigued by their scheduling of classes every day of the week for specific classes. This is something I was not accustomed to either. The classes are only 45 minutes, which is another adjustment me for. By the end of the week I became extremely comfortable with the structure of my new university. I bought a calendar, marked all deadlines related to coursework and other student-related activities, and created a semester-long schedule of personal, academic, extracurricular, and professional duties. Now, I feel prepared to take on the world! The first week was full of surprise after surprise but this is the beauty of studying abroad. You learn to adapt to your environment, and fully immerse yourself into the community you have chosen to be a part of. I wake up every day proud of my decision to study abroad in Cape Town. It is by far one of the best and most life-changing experiences I have had thus far in my twenty years of living. I encourage every college student to study abroad or at least attempt to invest their time in seeking opportunities to study abroad. Lastly, navigating UCT’s campus is a full-body workout. It has a lower campus, middle campus, and upper campus. Absolutely extreme!

Overall, my first week was excellent. I love the people here in Cape Town. I have already made so many new friends with residents here, and students at UCT and other nearby universities. They are extremely welcoming and some of the nicest people I have ever met. Therefore, I fell in love because I am an extremely welcoming person myself in addition to being nice. I love meeting new people and connecting with others. I am always intentional being personable with others because relationship-building is so important if we want to build a better future for all in a global context. I truly fear reverse culture shock upon returning to the states in June because my experience has been one of liberation, freedom, and purpose. I encourage all students to take a leap of faith and study abroad. Do not be intimidated by change, adaptation, loneliness, or fear of not belonging. We should be travelers of this earth and see the world! Release any subconscious limits you may have placed on yourself due to your experience in America. There is an entire world to see that is full of experiences waiting to give you some of the most incredible adventures. Learn as much as you can, be a sponge and soak up as much as you can and be a global citizen who leaves an impact on the world because this is a result of having daring leaders who rise to the occasion when called upon. Grab opportunity by the name and don’t let go!

Ameer Dunston headshot

Ameer Dunston

I am Ameer Dunston, a junior finance major & television & film minor from Buffalo, NY at Howard University. Additionally I am a 2016 Gates Millennium Scholar and I love to uplift others through any source possible.

2019 Spring
Home University:
Howard University
Buffalo, NY
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