Rachel Davis - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I have a passion for traveling and want to explore as much of the world as I possibly can. It has always been a dream of mine to visit South Africa, so I was extremely excited about this opportunity.

Why did you choose iXperience in Cape Town?

I really wanted to spend the summer learning a new skill that I otherwise would never be able to fit into my schedule. I believe that coding is extremely relevant and is an important skill to acquire or at least understand the basics of.

View of Cape Town, South Africa from Table Mountain
Cape Town as seen from Table Mountain

What was your favorite part about Cape Town?

Cape Town is absolutely beautiful. The view in every direction, from the ocean to the mountains to the city skyline, is amazing. It is also a very culturally rich city, with a fascinating history and much progress being made right now. There is also so much to do there that you could never be bored during the eight weeks!

What did you like most about your program?

The people in my program were my favorite part. Coming to a program with this type of set-up and all the way in Cape Town seems to attract a certain kind of person who has a real and genuine appetite for learning and adventure. Everyone I met had an incredibly interesting back story, so much to teach me, and helped me grow. They were overall also very kind, welcoming, and fun people!

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

All of the iX staff were extremely helpful and supportive with any issues or concerns that arose.

Girls visiting Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa
Taking a break at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I signed up for only the four week program, instead of the full eight weeks that includes an internship. That is definitely my biggest regret, as I wish I could’ve stayed for the next four weeks and didn't have to leave!

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

I started off my day by meeting up with my friends in the hostel for breakfast. After some delicious eggs, we headed over to our TA office hours at Workshop 17. We spent the hour before class hanging out together and getting help from the TAs as needed. Then we'd be off to our morning class.

Between the morning and afternoon classes, we grabbed lunch on the waterfront and worked on our morning assignment. After the afternoon class, I might walk around a new part of town, go play frisbee at a park, go hiking, lounge in the hostel, or go to one of the many lectures and events that iX sponsors.

For dinner, we normally organized a fun group outing to try new restaurants. After dinner, we might stop by trivia or open mic night before getting to work on our evening homework assignment.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

There are so many activities to do to fill your free time that you will never be bored! Some of my favorites were hiking Table Mountain and Lion Head, going to the Old Biscuit Mill, walking the canopy walkway, going to brunch at Clarke's, trying new restaurants, going to museums, walking around new parts of the city, lounging with friends at the hostel, and more.

Zebras near Cape Town, South Africa

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

The accommodations are at Never@Home. I was in a room with three other people and we had our own bathroom. The room had plenty of space and a good set-up. The hostel had a great lobby where we could all gather to hang out or to work on our homework in groups. The hostel also has a fun restaurant and bar that's great when you don't want to leave for food, for meeting up with people before going out, and for all the different iX sponsored events like trivia or open mic night.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

Just do it! I was very hesitant about coming, even to the point that I almost backed out right before coming. Now, I can't imagine what my summer would have been like without iX, and believe that nothing else could have compared.

Sign up, dive in, and embrace and appreciate every opportunity while you're there; it goes by so quickly.

How has your time abroad impacted your life?

Being more than a day of travel away from home gave me a new sense of independence. Being in as culturally rich of a city as Cape Town let me experience a part of the world very different than what I had been used to for the past 20 years of never previously having left North America. It definitely opened my eyes and helped me mature in more ways than I can explain.

Would you recommend your program to others? Why?

Yes! Just sign up, pack your bags, come, and embrace every opportunity thrown your way. Don't overthink it because you won't regret it. I've learned so much in the classroom from my professor and TAs, from the culture of the city, and from all my peers from around the world, each with their own unique and interesting story. All this learning has been incredibly invaluable and I wouldn't trade it for any other summer.