Cape Town stands out at the southern tip of exotic Africa as the most popular international tourist destination in Africa. The strikingly beautiful city has a long list of awards, such as one of the world’s “Most Loved Cities” by CNN. It is nestled within a group of steep green mountains creating a giant amphitheatre effect known as the City Bowl. Lay on the beach, catch a wave, go hiking, or shop the day away all within walking distance of each other. Take your pick from the bottomless buffet of fun that is Cape Town.
Geography & Demographics
The Mediterranean climate offers beautiful weather year round and more sunshine than Madrid. Winters last from June until August and are mild with usually only a couple colder fronts each year. Summers are warm with a few weeks of more extreme heat in late February and early March.
Cape Town lives in a biodiversity hotspot and many plants that grow on the mountains within the city don’t grow anywhere else in the world. The typically wet climate provides a lush landscape full of flowers and green plants year round.
Food & Culture
There are many different languages and cultures found in Cape Town. South Africa has 11 official languages but within the city Afrikaan is the most commonly spoken and English is generally understood.
Slang is very popular and knowing some of the interesting colloquialisms will help ensure you get what you are actually intending. For example, make sure to ask for a cold drink if you are thirsty for a soda. If invited to a braai make sure to say yes because it means barbeque which in Cape Town is a big deal. Or if you hear someone say jawelnofine, which is a combination of yes,well, no and fine and pronounced yawellnofine, know it is their way of saying well that’s not great but there isn’t anything I can about it. Sort of the equivalent of saying “What’s done is done.”
Cape Town’s origin as a harbor of the Dutch East India Company greatly influenced its cuisine which has grown into a bright palette of flavors. Typical dishes often include dashes of Japanese, German, Italian, Chinese, French, Portuguese and Flemish just to name a few. In short, it is a large and unique pot of flavors in which you can find almost anything. Traditional dishes most often include the merging of Indian, Dutch and African seasonings. Some of local specialties are the samoosa, a spicy fried Indian pastry filled with meat and potatoes, or the the sweet melktert. The African pastry’s center is filled with a smooth cinnamon flavored cream.
Things to Do
Nestled in between mountains and ocean, the city offers endless trails for hiking, biking and sightseeing as well as all the ocean can offer.
Studying in Cape Town
Cape Town has a solid educational infrastructure and is home to public and private universities. As a popular study abroad and tourism location, the city is well equipped for international visitors looking to learn more about the culture or experience something new. Since the city is so immersed with its surrounding environment it is also possible for students to find more environmentally based programs while enjoying the amenities of city living.
If you are looking for a more generalized and inclusive education abroad program ISA (International Studies Abroad) may be just what you are looking for. The program offers a huge range of classes offered all year so students can do anything from work on their general education classes to focus on their major. The program is based out of the University of Cape Town (UCT) which has a strong on campus student community. The program includes housing, airport pick-up, insurance and meetings with resident directors to provide students with firsthand knowledge of upcoming events and excursions.
South Africa has overcome a difficult past and the Socio-Economic Enterprise in Post-Apartheid South Africa program allows students interested in areas such as social studies, international relations, and socio-economics an up close and personal look at a new democracy recovering from apartheid. Students can study the past and present of South Africa’s development.