How We Chose Cape Town

Gwen Marquis
April 26, 2018
IES students at a rugby match

What kind of student studies abroad here in Cape Town?

There's no exact answer to that question. The students on our program represent colleges and states across the U.S. and, I'm convinced, every major imaginable. Whatever your academic or personal interests are, I hope these quick introductions to some current IES Abroad Cape Town students help you recognize yourself & see what's possible living in South Africa!


Sarah Van Ness
Hometown: Beverly, MA
Home school: University of Vermont
Year: Junior
Major/minor: Psychology/Biology
Why Cape Town?: Cape Town stuck out to me because I have always been interested in African history, and South Africa in particular has a very complex past and current political climate. I also really wanted to learn about and see the rich biodiversity and animals that are native to this area. With such a long plane ride, I wanted to make sure I could absolutely get the most of this experience, and study abroad seemed like the best opportunity to do so.
Favorite way to spend a Saturday here: My favorite way to spend a Saturday would be hiking at sunrise/in the morning and then getting a huge breakfast afterwards, either at Old Biscuit Mill or any of Cape Town's great breakfast places. (Also I know this isn’t a Saturday specific activity but First Thursdays are my favorite thing ever).
Something unexpected so far: There are a lot of things I wasn’t expecting for sure, but the biggest thing was definitely how much I was going to have to work at school. This is ultimately a good thing, though, as it is helping me learn how to adapt to new systems of learning and has made me actually buckle down and work and learn how to balance this with exploring and having fun around the city.
Favorite CPT moment: My favorite Cape Town moment was not in Cape Town or a single moment (sorry) but the entire weekend we spent at Kruger National Park. It was so cool to see so much untouched land and to see so many insane animals in their natural habitat.


Marc VandenBerg
Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland
Home school: Washington University in St. Louis
Year: Junior
Majors: Computer Science & Systems Engineering
Why Cape Town?: I enjoy doing outdoorsy things, and Cape Town has plenty of outdoor activities.
Favorite way to spend a Saturday here: Playing soccer or going hiking and hanging out with friends and exploring a new part of Cape Town.
Something unexpected so far: How good biltong is.
Favorite CPT moment: Definitely the combination of the Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls trip during Spring Break.


Anna Kroeger
Hometown: Earlham, Iowa
Home school: University of Iowa
Year: Sophomore
Majors: Management & Economics with a certificate in International Business
Why Cape Town?: I wanted to study in a location that would not be easily accessible to me in the future. I knew it would be easier to spend time in Europe or other countries when I’m an adult, but it would be difficult to find another reason to go all the way to South Africa. Plus, it’s beautiful and has a little bit of everything (hiking, nightlife, world-class academics, etc.)
Favorite way to spend a Saturday here: Going to the beach!
Something unexpected so far: I didn’t expect there to be so much to do here. There’s never a dull moment! Also, I’ve found myself really enjoying my classes like I never have before. People are very open and willing to discuss difficult topics such as race, gender, sexuality, and development.
Favorite CPT moment: My favorite moment so far was taking a Cape Malay cooking class in an area of the city called Bo-Kaap.


Vincent Quaglia
Hometown: Lindenhurst, NY
Home school: University of Miami
Year: Senior
Majors: History, Political Science & Criminology
Why Cape Town?: I'm highly interested in British imperial history, so I narrowed it down to South Africa and India.
Favorite way to spend a Saturday here: I have really enjoyed walking around and people watching at the V&A Waterfront on weekends.
Something unexpected so far: I was impressed by the availability of American brands in supermarkets.
Favorite CPT moment: If it can be Southern Africa as a whole then definitely visiting Victoria Falls, but if we're just looking at Cape Town then probably snorkeling with seals.


Nicole Tartaglia
Hometown: North Aurora, Illinois
Home school: Case Western Reserve University
Year: Sophomore
Majors: Biomedical Engineering & Mechanical Engineering
Why Cape Town?: I've always wanted to come to Africa, but I never knew where or when I would get the chance, and the opportunity to study at one of the best universities on the continent and one that has a good engineering program was too great to pass up.
Favorite way to spend a Saturday here: Hiking with friends or going to the Old Biscuit Mill!
Something unexpected so far: It took a long time to get used to seeing cars drive on the left side of the road since in the U.S. they drive on the right. The biggest shock, though, came when I was watching an American Netflix show and the scene was shot from inside a car driving on the right side of the road and my immediate thought was "No! That's wrong!" Not looking forward to driving back in the States.
Favorite CPT moment: Hiking Lion's Head for sunrise, it was such a beautiful sight to see the city bathed in golden light, and so peaceful.

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Gwen Marquis

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:2.35pt; margin-right:10.3pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.0pt">Hi all! My name is Gwen, and I’m a junior majoring in Political Science and Anthropology with a concentration in Global Health at the University of Vermont. I love taking photos, being outside, and pretty much every dog I’ve ever met. I’ve never been to the Southern Hemisphere before and am looking forward to studying abroad in Cape Town and escaping New England mid-winter. This semester abroad, I look forward to traveling as much as possible and (hopefully) learning to cook for myself. Wish me luck!</p>

2018 Spring
Home University:
University of Vermont
Walpole, MA
Political Science
Explore Blogs