The year abroad experience at University of Cape Town was phenomenal. At UCT one walks around the most beautiful campus in the world, with Table Mountain standing as a monument above you. There is plenty to do both in the university sphere as well as around the exciting city of Cape Town. I learnt to surf and wakeboard, by becoming part of the Surf and Wake societies at Uni, whilst spending every Saturday morning on the most picturesque hikes around the city. Wherever you are, be it downtown or around the Campus, you’ll find yourself close to beautiful mountain to traverse. A secret gem to look for is the hidden reservoir situated 5 minutes south of campus, where one can plunge into cooling waters between lectures.
Most importantly, in the university one is forced to engage in issues of race, class and gender. On such an intrinsic levels, these politics are everything, where some classmates are truly living the experiences of the struggles and issues. I think it is essential to be immersed in this when coming to Cape Town, a place with the most interesting history. I learnt a lot about engaging with white privilege, something we can too easily ignore coming from a lack of diversity in English Universities. Not only this, I was spurred to engage in social justice organisations outside of University. Any student coming to South Africa must make sure to engage in such issues, I would recommend reading Steve Biko’s ‘I Write What I Like’, and make sure to follow Facebook platforms such as ‘Disrupting Whiteness: UCT’ who post articles and discussions.
Cape Town is one of the jazz capitals of the world, meaning that there are a plethora of amazing music events to attend every weekend. Open mic sessions and jazz gigs across the city offer amazing sounds to tune into to, and the notorious ‘Long Street’ offers a more party-centric night for you to join friends for drinks and dancing. I would recommend ‘The Waiting Room’ for the best night out in Cape Town – offering eclectic mixes and vinyl sets encompassing hip hop, jazz, funk, disco, Afrobeat, dancehall (and more). South Africa is also one of the trance music capitals of the world, and massive trance festivals are plentiful (if you’re into that!). Before coming out, I recommend checking out gqom – a unique genre combining Afro beat and house, a sound that is unique to South Africa.
Written by Rufus Shakespeare – University of Cape Town, South Africa