UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

Between Two Oceans

Last summer I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. At the beginning of my sophomore year I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what kind of program I wanted to do. The only thing I did know was that I wanted to go abroad during the summer because I didn’t want to miss an entire semester at school. After meeting with a study abroad adviser I made a list of potential programs and cities and decided on Cape Town, South Africa.

The program was called Summer Community Development and Social Justice: Theory and Practice and not only did it really interest me, but it also tied in really well with a lot of my Global Health classes. The program ran for 7 weeks and was meant to immerse us in the history and cultural realities of South Africa. Monday through Thursday we would have Poverty and Development class at the University of Cape Town for about three hours and focused on South Africa’s course of development. We also had a series of guest lecturers including members of the African National Congress and former inmates at Robben Island. We also took field trips to Parliament, Robben Island, a local township called Mitchell’s Plain, and a historic neighborhood called Bo Kaap. We were able to look at   critical issues facing Cape Town from social, historical, cultural, political, and economic perspectives which allowed us to gain a strong understanding of the city and nation.

Each student chose a community service site to volunteer at during the week, and I had the opportunity to work at an organization called the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE). It is a non-profit that seeks to educate migrant laborers on their rights and works with workers who face abuse or wrongful termination. I was able to help plan community events, research international organizations of similar purpose, and research the constitutionality of some of the cases TCOE faced. I loved getting to volunteer there because it aligned with a lot of my interests and was a great way to meet a lot of local residents.

Beyond class and work, we had the opportunity to explore a lot of Cape Town and South Africa. We went all over Cape Town- up Table Mountain, to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Camps Bay, V&A Waterfront, and the Old Biscuit Mill which has an incredible array of food stands. We spent a weekend in Stellenbosch, a town about an hour outside of Cape Town that is making great strides in sustainability and development. I think my favorite trip was the Garden Route, it’s a four day trip that begins in Cape Town and ends in the Eastern Cape. The drive is unbelievably beautiful and along the way we went to an ostrich farm, embarked on a safari, visited caves that are over one million years old, and eventually bungee jumped from the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge. It was a 709 foot jump that was simultaneously the best and scariest decision of my entire life. The views were BEAUTIFUL since the bridge was located next to the Indian Ocean and nestled among mountains and valleys.

I can say without a doubt that studying abroad was one of my best decisions and Cape Town is probably my favorite place in the world.

Bungee jumping

Bungee jumping

Cape Town

Cape Town

Muizenberg Beach

Muizenberg Beach