By Shekina Shindano
This past summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa under the SPIA – Globis Partner: Global Studies at Stellenbosch University. Stellenbosch is a small town where Europe meets Athens, Ga! That is the best way to describe it because it is a college town but has a very rich history to it. It is about 45 minutes away from South Africa’s capital Cape Town and is home to hundreds of vineyards. It was a four-week program where students had the opportunity to choose courses relating to business in South Africa, sustainability and community engagement, and public health. Due to COVID, some of these courses were canceled, but I decided to take 3 courses relating to International Affairs. During my time in South Africa, I took an introduction to South African politics, north, and south South African interactions through the lens of art and film, and China in Africa. Not only were these courses very informative, but it was also nice to be in a class mixed with both American and South African students. I was able to get a deep insight into the social and political climate of South Africa first-hand from South African natives.
Aside from academia, my trip was full of many wonderful experiences from going on safaris to enjoying all the beautiful vineyards that lie in the Western Cape. Before I left for my trip, I was so nervous because it was going to be the farthest and longest I’ve ever been away from home, but I am so grateful that I decided to embark on this journey because it only reconfirmed that I truly do enjoy traveling and meeting new people and I hope my future career in International Affairs allows me to do more of that.
I would advise everyone to try their hardest to study abroad once during their time in undergrad because it really does change your worldview and indirectly improves your soft skills in such a fun and engaging way! One other thing I would tell others is to not be afraid to pursue a non-faculty-led program either! It was super intimidating to apply for this trip knowing I was the only student going from UGA, but I ended up meeting so many people, mainly from Clemson University and all walks of life, and many of the people I met are still in contact with me today!
Studying abroad was one of the best things I could have done for myself and my future career, and I am so grateful to attend a school with so many resources!