It feels like I was packing to leave for Cape Town just yesterday, and now, I am back in Florida after spending two amazing months in the beautiful city of Cape Town. After experiencing a complete culture shock, meeting lots of new people, and studying abroad for the first time, there are lots of things that I have learned.
5 Things That I Have Learned
- It may take some time to adjust to a new environment
When you first get to your study-abroad country, you might be overwhelmed. Even going to the grocery store for the first time was overwhelming for me even though the signs were in English. There were a lot of things that work differently here in South Africa that I did not expect, so it is important to have an open mind, and it is ok to not know everything. After this whole experience, I think that I would definitely adjust faster to a new environment if I chose to study abroad again.
- Talk to locals
I learned a lot of new things by talking to my Uber drivers or locals in the community. One of the ways that I was really able to learn about the culture in South Africa was through interacting with these local ladies every week through my internship. They taught me about traditional foods that they ate, and they even taught me some hidden places around Cape Town as well as things not to do to stay safe. My Uber drivers were also very knowledgeable about what parts of the city were and weren’t safe, so it is important to talk to your Uber driver!
- Try New Things! Whether it is new food or new activities
I finally tried malva pudding while I was in Cape Town, and it was delicious. There are so many yummy South African snacks, and I even had the opportunity to go to a restaurant that served local South African cuisine, including this soup that I can’t pronounce but was amazing! You’ll never know what foods you do or don’t like if you don’t at least try them. I was a little unsure about hiking before I arrived in Cape Town because of my fear of heights, but I am so glad that I went hiking because the sights were so beautiful, and it was nice getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, getting to reconnect with nature.
- Budget accordingly but also spend your money!
This may sound cliche, but you will never get to have the same experience studying abroad ever again. While you should save your money and budget accordingly, you should also spend money trying that restaurant that everyone has been recommending. If there are certain activities that interest you, you should try it out while you are studying abroad. Looking back at all of my experiences, there wasn’t a single time I regretted spending money, even on an experience that existed in the States. I absolutely loved visiting the aquarium in Cape Town, and even found a dock of seals outside of the aquarium!
- Time is short, be in the present
This one really hit me at the end of my trip. I honestly thought that two months would be enough time to explore Cape Town, and I feel like I just started familiarizing myself with the city. I was super busy with my internship and my class; however, I always made sure to make time to explore Cape Town or even try out a new cafe, while also getting some work done. While it is important to make time for yourself, it is also important to utilize your time wisely because before you know it, your going to the airport and heading back home! I honestly wish I spent more time exploring Cape Town because there are certain activities that I wasn’t able to do before I left.
And that is five things that I learned while studying abroad in Cape Town for two months!
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Hi! My name is Tracy, and I am currently a student at the University of Florida. I am studying Public Health and pursuing two minors in Medical Geography and Statistics. As a native Floridian, I love the beach and the ocean.