Exchange at Stellenbosch University – By Renee Farrow

Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. What an amazing, beautiful country. I did my exchange here at Stellenbosch University, and I’m going to tell you how I fell in love with South Africa.

Picture vineyards for as far as the eye can see, until you get to the majestic mountains surrounding everything. This is the view of Stellenbosch, and all of the surrounding areas, and let me tell you – it is absolutely beautiful!

My first impression of Stellenbosch; I walked into my new flat to my 7 roommates singing ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls – I immediately knew this was the place for me!! (Of course, they were playing a drinking game!) My roommates were from Belgium, Norway, America, Australia and Germany and they were perfect!

My first few weeks in Stellenbosch were the best! We had orientation week for the internationals, and spent all our spare time hiking, wine tasting and exploring the surrounding areas! I spent my Spring Break in Lesotho – an incredibly humble, beautiful country within South Africa – and along the ‘Wild Coast’ of South Africa with some friends. During this trip I learnt a lot about the history of South Africa, and was also lucky enough to meet a lot of the people who live rural along the coast! It was an incredible experience that I will never forget!

One of my favourite things about my time at Stellenbosch was the braai’s! This is pretty similar to an Australian BBQ, everyone brings meat and drinks, and comes together to hang out and relax. Its the perfect way to catch up with friends – and a great way to bring together groups of international students with the locals.

I was really lucky to make some incredible friends – and we spent a lot of time travelling throughout Africa! There are some truly magical countries in Africa – and it continued to amaze me how different each country was! We experienced Namibia – a vast desert country with a beautiful coastline and amazing wildlife; We road mokoro wooden boats down the Okavango Delta and camped with elephants in Botswana; We partied in Johannesburg, had christmas in a big beach house in Cape Town and tackled the terrible roads of the Wild Coast with our tiny 2×2 cars (after a big rain); We flew to Zanzibar, Tanzania and lived the island life; And I topped it all off with a 6 day safari through Kenya and Tanzania where I was lucky enough to see the entire Big 5! There are so many places to explore in Africa, and I can’t wait to go back and continue to find new, mind-blowing countries, people and nature!

As you probably know, the history in South Africa is not great – Apartheid has left some really tragic memories and the country is still working hard to get over it! But don’t let that scare you from experiencing this unique country and continent. Before I came, I definitely received my fair share of warnings about South Africa, but after experiencing the incredible country myself, I knew that, yes, you need to keep your wits about you – but its like that in ANY country! And the benefits of South Africa far, far outweigh any negatives. If you’re even considering going on exchange to Stellenbosch – I could not recommend it any more highly – DO IT!

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