Riley Jay - 2017 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I have a love for travel and wanted to get out of my small town in Kansas for the summer. Both my sisters have studied abroad so I was already familiar with the pros and benefits of going abroad and wanted to experience it for myself!

Elephant in South Africa

You can't go to Africa without going on Safari!

Why did you choose CISabroad Intern in South Africa?

I have been to a few other countries around the world but I have never been to Africa. Africa, unfortunately, is not a common destination for travel in America so I figured I would possibly never get the chance to go again -- I just had to take it! As for why I chose to intern instead of study abroad, I was already on track to graduate early so I truly didn't need anymore class credits, but I still wanted the experience of going abroad, so I chose to intern so I could gain valuable work experience at the same time. A two-for-one!

What was your favorite part your host country/city?

We don't learn enough African history in schools, and what we think we know is generally not representative of the continent as a whole. It was amazing to break all the stereotypes and bust all the myths that Americans have Africa in general - there's SO much to offer and the opportunities are endless!

What made your experience abroad unique?

Aside from living in a different country for nine weeks, being able to experience so many first time adventures (like sand boarding and bungee jumping) made for an even more memorable and exciting trip! And you cannot go to Africa without mentioning the wildlife: I got to see, and even touch, some of the most exotic animals up close and personal that I've only ever seen before in movies and zoos.

Desert in Namibia

A weekend excursion to the neighboring country of Namibia!

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

Pasqual was so friendly and inviting throughout my trip. She welcomed us with a dinner our first night and gave us an orientation the city and what to expect from the program. She was available to if we ever needed any help. She also took the program on a fun excursion trip halfway through our time in Cape Town! Finally, we had a lovely farewell dinner during our last week.

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

I wish I would've packed a little less, and a little smarter. I didn't take into account the amount of things I would inevitably buy while I was there, nor did I truly pay attention to the weather while deciding what kind of clothes to bring.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

While in Cape Town, I would wake up and have breakfast in my house that I shared with seven other people who all became close friends of mine. I would walk not even 15 seconds around the block to my workplace (I have to admit: I got super lucky and most people had to take an Uber or the train to their job locations). I would work 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Every day after work I would meet up with the people in my program. Monday's we had cultural presentations, Tuesday's we had quiz night, Fridays we had a scheduled program event/excursion, and all the other days we kept ourselves busy with various bars, restaurants, activities, adventures, etc.

South African coast

South Africa is full of gorgeous views, nature, and scenery!

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

There wasn't a single day that I can think of where I wasn't with at least one person from my program. We became the closest of friends and we did just everything together. We had lots of time to explore the city, go hiking or surfing, try new foods and restaurants, meet the locals, learn the languages and culture, and more!

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

My accommodation was in a suburb of Cape Town. It definitely took some getting used to - the city was not *unsafe* but it wasn't the *safest* place. We just had to stay vigilant and smart and we were fine! My particular house was shared between eight people, we had a washer and dryer, we had a dishwasher, we all had our own rooms, we shared two bathrooms; we even had a cleaning service that came to the house on weekdays and did the dishes for us and kept our communal area clean. I truly enjoyed the people I shared it with the most! A great way to meet new people, especially as there were people coming and going throughout the duration of my stay.

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

I think people should know that Cape Town has something for everyone. You must give it a chance and at first it may seem like a rough transition but it's all completely worth it! You will truly grow as a person for learning to adapt and overcoming any issues you have while living abroad!

International interns in South Africa

You'll meet some of the closest friends you'll ever make in your life when you study abroad - you're all in it together, you really don't have a choice!

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?

I have a travel bug for sure! But in my everyday life, I feel more culturally aware, I feel more independent, I feel like I can truly take anything on after living in Africa by myself for nine weeks. Living abroad will give you a new outlook on life and can really grow you as a person!

Would you recommend your CISabroad Intern in South Africa to others? Why?

I would absolutely recommend going to Cape Town to each and every person that I know. Quite frankly there is no reason not to. There is something for everyone whether you're adventurous and sporty, or prefer to stay in and read a book. There's so much culture and language, there's so much fashion and culture, there's so many amazing and accepting people, the list goes on!