IES Cape Town is extremely lucky in that we all arrived in Cape Town a whopping three weeks before class started. It was amazing to have so much time (aside from mandatory orientation activities) to really get to know our city and explore without being tied down to class and school. So now that class is two weeks underway, it has been a bit more challenging than normal to get back into the swing of things. Going from a small liberal arts university in suburban Virginia to a large university in a big city in South Africa has been quite the adjustment!
Cape Town is pretty Westernized, but there are some little things about living here that are pretty shockingly different from being home back in the States. The first major difference that I was faced with in terms of academics was…paper registration. I will never complain about registration back home again (check back with me in a couple months, but I’ll try my best to keep this promise). So many forms to get signed, running around an unfamiliar campus to get said forms signed, and persuading professors that yes, I am in fact qualified to take your 3000 level class, was a headache and a half. All of the UCT students are used to it so it’s not a big deal for them, but all of us spoiled American exchange students struggled our way through the week leading up to registration trying to figure everything out. Needless to say, we all celebrated pretty heavily once registration was over and we all got our schedules finalized.
Another convenience that I took for granted at home was the abundance unlimited internet pretty much everywhere you go. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case in South Africa, since internet is much more expensive here. We are lucky enough to have free WiFi on campus, but we each have personal modems to use back at home where we get 5 GB of internet during the day and 15 GB of internet from 12am to 7am. I have been known to stay up until midnight purely to tap into my 15 gigs of “night surfing” internet. I have also been known to spend time hunched over the windowsill in my room which is one of the only spots in the house where you can usually pick up a bar or two of UCT WiFi. The internet struggle is real, people! It has been kind of fun though because it’s forced us not to be as glued to our phones as much when we’re out and about. You don’t realize how much you use your phone as a crutch until you can’t use it anymore!
Aside from adjusting to the lack of certain American conveniences, I’ve been really enjoying my classes and being a UCT student. It’s kind of fun to go to a school that is pretty much completely different in every way from my school at home. I love Mary Washington and how beautiful it is, but I must say UCT is hands down the most beautiful campus I’ve ever been on in my life. It is built into Devil’s Peak and has absolutely amazing views of the mountain facing the infamous Jameson Hall as well as the city below. It truly is a breathtaking campus and it makes waking up early to go to class so much better. The wonderful summer weather also contributes to how beautiful campus is. I don’t hate wearing sundresses and shorts to class in the middle of February! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; pictures really just don’t do this place justice.
The classes I’m taking are really interesting. I’m taking an introductory Afrikaans course, so it’s been fun to learn one of the many official South African languages. Right now I can say “Good morning! My name is Quinn. What is your name?” in Afrikaans so you could say I’m on the path to fluency. I’m also taking a 3000 level psychology course called Critical Psychology, which has been so thought-provoking to learn about psychology from a South African perspective, in both pre and post-apartheid contexts.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got in terms of life here as a UCT student! Life is still wonderful, I’m still loving Cape Town, and I’m especially loving being able to say I get to walk to class in 80 degree weather every day while all my friends and family at home are bundled in their parkas and snow boots.
(I can say goodbye in Afrikaans, too!)
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<p>My name is Quinn and I am a junior at the University of Mary Washington majoring in Psychology. After undergrad, I hope to get my masters in school counseling. I enjoy reading, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and exploring new places. I cannot wait to see what is in store for me during my semester at the beautiful University of Cape Town! </p>