Mustafa - University of Cape Town

B. Arts
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

The courses I took at the University of Capetown were: HST2042F (South Africa to 1900: Debates and Themes); SLL1042F (Afrikaans Intensive A); SLL1054F (The World of Odysseus); SLL1073F (Initial Spanish A). 

The only downside to study at UCT is that the study load is a lot heavier and I do mean A LOT heavier. I had to spend a lot of my time doing the numerous assignments I had to every day, which made it difficult for me to fully enjoy the exchange experience. My recommendation would be to save your electives and choose three second-year courses as that equates to a full-time study load (this will decrease your study load significantly).

Personal experience

Spending one semester at UCT has truly been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Ja, dit was baie lekker (a little bit of Afrikaans for ya). Cape Town is one the most beautiful cities in the world, there is always something to do. There are plenty of incredibly beautiful beaches (even compared to Australia), great places to hike in around the mountains, incredible wildlife, a crazy amount of festivals that are always going on somewhere in Cape Town and someone's braii to attend to. There are also plenty of museums where you can learn about the history of South Africa from before the colonization to the rise and fall of Apartheid. If you have the time I highly recommend going to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and the Slavery House museum in Cape Town. All of which give you a sense of how South Africa came to be and what problems the country still faces today. 

South Africa is country with many different ethnic groups, who all have their own distinct culture and language (South Africa has 11 official languages), all of which makes a very learning and fun atmosphere to live in. It is no wonder it is called the Rainbow country.

Accommodation

For the first 6 weeks, I lived in a on-campus college accommodation, due to a clerical error up the with allocation of houses so that there weren't enough houses for exchange students to move in. This had its own issues since when we were placed in colleges, UCT forfeited some of the full degree students place to enable that, which made the atmosphere tense. But after the 6 weeks, some exchanges (including myself) were placed in off-campus housing. I lived with three other exchange students in a huge house in Rondebosch. 

I would highly recommend staying in off-campus accommodation as it is cheaper and you get to live with other exchange students instead of a college with PhD and masters student who didn't seem to keen to interact with exchange students. I can almost guarantee you'll have much more fun if you live off-campus. There is also a university bus shuttle (Jammie shuttle) which takes students from most of the student neighbourhoods to campus for free.

Budget

I spent around 1000$ every month for everything. South Africa is a very cheap country, going out to a very nice restaurant will cost you no more than 10$. Everything you can imagine is at least 50% cheaper than Australia, so budgeting shouldn't be much of issue for you.

Professional development and employability

I've learned a multitude of languages one of which is a local language, which will definitely help me with employment when I am going to search for work at the foreign department of Turkey. 

There are countless skills and attributes I've looked developed during my semester at UCT, which listing them would take too long to apprehend. I suppose that is a good thing to have gotten out of this exchange.

Highlight

University of Cape Town, Upper Campus
University of Cape Town, Upper Campus

The highlight was definitely when I went on a road trip through South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland with three other of my friends. It was an incredible experience where I got to see everything from game in the national parks of Swaziland to the mountain regions of central Lesotho. 

I also went on a long travel through much of southern and southeastern Africa after the end of final exam period.

Top tips

  • I would say to join and interact in as many activities as you can
  • You can join three societies for free at UCT make sure you utilize them and get most of your time.
  • I would also recommend joining SHAWCO which is an organisation where you can go and volunteer at local underprivileged communities by teaching various subjects. 
  • Also, be careful as security is lacking a bit in Capetown, and rest of South Africa for that matter. Robberies and pickpocketing is a fairly big issue. So, I would recommend to always take uber at night, its ridiculously cheap and very safe.
Mustafa - University of Cape Town