Study Abroad students love Humanities

1 Aug 2014 - 16:30

Pictured L-R: University of North Carolina, Greensboro students Sarah Fox; Tynesha McCuller and Binh Duong

Each year, The University of Cape Town hosts semester study abroad programmes for international students who wish to spend time at the university. Although all Faculties participate in the programme, Humanities is the most popular academic destination for these students. 

The study abroad programme is coordinated through the university’s International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO). Students apply to take undergraduate courses over one or two semesters at UCT, which on completion, are credited at their home institutions. Within the Faulty of Humanities, the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics (AXL) is the most popular choice, followed by Historical Studies and Sociology departments. Of the Semester Study Abroad students who came to UCT in 2014, Humanities attracted the highest enrolment at 74%. 

This year, 334 of the Humanities SSA students came from institutions in the United States. So we spoke to American students Tynesha McCullers; Olivia Glick and Claude Galette to find our what attracted them to the Faculty at UCT and to establish what they believe they are learning in the process.

HN: Where is home?
TM: I am originally from Raleigh, North Carolina in the United States. I attend school at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am currently registered for Research Methods, Social Justice & Inequality, Images in Conflict, and African Drumming Level 1. I will also be interning with SHAWCO's Education and Medical Sectors this semester.
CG: Home is a fairly difficult question. My family is from Haiti. I travel to the island to visit all of my family members. I have a home there. I am from Florida. This is where my house is, but I feel most at home at university, My home institution is The University of Rochester in New York. At UCT I am taking Clinical Neuropsychology, Images in Conflict, African Dance, and Culture, Identity, and Globalization in Africa.

HN: Why did you choose to study in the Faculty of Humanities at UCT?
TM: I have always dreamed of studying abroad but have let the wishes and desires of others hold me back. I adore my home university and have invested so much time in being a good and highly active student on campus for my three years there. I felt that it was time for me to branch out my senior year by stepping out of my comfort zone and studying abroad. Prior to this trip, I had never been on a plane (which surprises so many). I chose UCT because, I knew that I desperately wanted to go to Africa and experience all of it while I could; travelling can be quite expensive during adult years. The Faculty of Humanities here was the most appealing faculty for me to choose because the subjects and majors practiced in this faculty are most relevant to my major back at home which is Human Development and Family Studies.

OG: My home institution is Wesleyan University in Connecticut. I wanted to study abroad in South Africa because of its rich political history. As a Political Science major at home, I thought it would be very interesting to look at the development and after effects of Apartheid within South Africa. I found that my classes in the UCT Faculty of Humanities were especially conducive to studying this. 

HN: What are some of the similarities or differences?
CG: My home university, The University of Rochester (UR), is a medium to small sized school in upstate New York. Most of the students are engineers or on their way to medical school. The school is heavily based in research. Everyone is pretty nerdy, in a good way. The city of Rochester is old, small, and dying. It is cold/ snowing most of school year. UCT is in a bustling metropolis, with people everywhere all of the time. The air and aura at UCT is so different from UR. Like the air has more energy or a spark. There seems to always be something happening on campus. At UCT you never meet the same type of person twice. There is always something to do or see on campus. The campus is twice the size of UR. I think the professors are less personable than UR because of the size of the school. The set up of UCT's curriculum is very different from UR. 

HN: Has the experience of being in South Africa changed your perspective/ world-view? What are you learning in the process?
TM: Being here is South Africa has changed my perspective of the world tremendously. I am learning that there are so many different types of people who teach and learn in different ways. It is also becoming apparent to me that not everything is done the same way here that it is in America. The time is different, the weather is different, the food is different, the culture is different, the values are different, the people are different and this has definitely been an adjustment to me. I have never once felt as if the United States was the center of the world but recognizing that if the United States stopped, the rest of the world would more than likely continue to go on has become a lot more prevalent to me. Most importantly, I am learning that my way is not the only way; which I know can sound quite strange but it is becoming my reality to recognize that there are other ways for things to get done other than my own. 

OG: Surprisingly, being in Cape Town has brought a lot of perspective of the way racism plays out within a post Civil Rights America. I've observed how tensions of race have played out both in the UCT classroom as well as when I'm out within Cape Town and have tried to compare these experiences to home. In addition, my Third World Politics class has changed my perspective about the idea of the progress of developing countries. Last semester at Wesleyan I took a class called "Political Economies of Developing Countries" where I learned how Latin American, Asian and African countries developed through the 1970's to modern day. My Third World Politics class tries to address a similar subject but I've found it much more beneficial to learn this material from an African perspective as opposed to an American/Western perspective. 

Semester Study Abroad students apply either directly (in their individual capacity) or through a partner university programme or through a centralized programme such as the Council for International Studies Abroad Education Exchange (CIEE), International Studies Abroad (ISA), Connect-123, Arcadia or through the Institute for International Education of Students (IES).