Things I Do (& Don't) Miss From Home

Gwen Marquis
April 19, 2018

Aside from obvious choices like friends and family, I miss…

  • Iced coffee & Dunkin Donuts: Hot coffee is pretty much the norm outside the U.S., even when it’s 90 °F out. If you ask for an iced coffee here, you will probably get a blank stare or a coffee blended with vanilla ice cream. Rumor has it there’s a Dunkin by Canal Walk in Cape Town, but I have yet to see it…

  • My pets! Joining an animal activism society (UCT term for club) on campus has definitely helped with this, and I recently had the opportunity to visit an animal shelter in nearby Hout Bay to help with feeding and socializing the cats and dogs, as well as doing and sorting laundry. Be proactive about things you feel are missing from your experience abroad! You don’t have to go without something that matters to you.

  • Baths: My housing only has showers, and baths take up a lot of unnecessary water anyway- I can wait a little longer!

  • Tide to Go: These pens are so useful when traveling, and the one holdover I had from the U.S. recently ran empty. 

  • Getting everything I wanted at once from the grocery store. In the U.S., I would fill up a grocery cart with everything I could see myself using. Now, I fill up an arm cart of only my most essential groceries, because it’s easiest to walk to and from the store. I only buy what I can carry, and that leads to buying lots of bulk goods and adaptable food staples.

I don’t miss…

  • American politics: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

  • Digging my car out of the snow: Walking and Uber are my main methods of transport in Cape Town, and after three months of a balmy climate I’m so happy to be missing out on the bitter Vermont cold. I’ve also had great times when exploring on foot and seeing things I otherwise would’ve driven straight past! Know your neighborhoods, always go with a friend, and have some type of directions app on your phone.

  • “Disposable” plastic bags at grocery stores: Grocery stores here ask if you would like any plastic bags before your total is finalized, and if you say yes you are charged for however many you need. Using reusable tote bags to carry your groceries saves money that adds up over time, plus you get to cut down on your waste impact & the bags themselves can be pretty cute! Student tip: backpacks work just as well, too.

  • How expensive food is! At my home school, eating on campus is expensive and you can easily spend $10 on just a sandwich. At UCT, I can get lunch and a drink for 40 Rand, which is the equivalent of $3.21. Food at the grocery stores is also much cheaper in general.

  • Expensive Ubers: Rides here are super cheap, which makes exploring the city very doable! Make sure to carpool with friends and split the fare; the cost goes down even more.

All things considered, I can confidently say that the highs outweigh the lows (if you can even call them that). Maybe some of these things will strike true for you too- come to Cape Town and find out!

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