I’ve been in South Africa for approximately two weeks now, and it has been quite an experience! My original flight got canceled TWICE, so I ended up arriving a day later than my peers. However, I arrived JUST in time for orientation – literally, I got off the plane, went straight to my studio apartment (yes, I am currently living my best life), and went to orientation.
My first week in Cape Town, my study abroad provider, IES Abroad, welcomed us and provided us with the in and outs of studying in Cape Town. We went over pertinent information, such as academics at the University of Cape Town (otherwise known as UCT, which is the school I’ll be studying at this semester), safety in Cape Town, and even what our medical insurance covers. We also took a few trips to some attractions, such as Camps Bay Beach and Signal Hill.
My second week in Cape Town, my cohort and I attended orientation at UCT, where we met other students from different study abroad providers as well as students who are matriculating into UCT for full-degree programs. Although some of the information presented was a bit repetitive, it was nice to finally step foot on UCT’s campus and meet the people I’ll be taking classes with.
The highlight of my first two weeks in Cape Town, however, was when we took a field trip to Langa. Established in 1927, Langa is arguably the first township in Cape Town. We were taken on a tour to Langa by Ubizo Events and Tours, who’s professionalism and hospitality was beyond amazing, might I add! Right after we got done with orientation at the IES Abroad Cape Town Center, Ubizo picked us up from the Center and drove us to Langa, which was about a 20-minute drive. I already knew that our field trip to Langa would be life-changing after getting off the van. We visited various attractions, such as…
Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre
Guga Sthebe is a public space where communities can come together and enjoy art, design, and performance. It’s a venue in which locals can rent for events, come to develop their art skills, or simply shop around for a gift for a loved one. My favorite part about this Centre is that they give back to the community. Through sales and training of anyone interested in becoming a more skilled artist, the Centre gives back in many ways, which encouraged me to donate to them through the purchase of one of their art pieces.
The Langa Old Dom Pass Court/Museum
This museum served as a time machine, providing a glimpse of what life was like during the apartheid. Similar to the U.S., Black Africans in South Africa faced racism and discrimination. The Langa Pass Museum was Langa’s old pass office, where Blacks had to present their identity cards and were tried for breaking the pass laws. Passes were required for Blacks in order for them to move in and out of certain regions, and it was one of many tools used to restrict their freedom of movement and residence. To me, this Museum reminded me of how my ancestors had to live through laws/practices that made life harder for them, such as the unnecessarily challenging/impossible literacy test they had to pass in order to register to vote (see below for an example of a few questions asked).
Overall, my trip to Langa changed my life for the better, and I look forward to going back while I’m still here in South Africa!