When studying abroad, it is very important to do your research on the company you will be paying thousands of dollars to. The program provider and your cohort participants can either make or break your trip. If I had one piece of advice to give to any person looking to study abroad, that would be my advice to do your research thoroughly. My program provider had a lot of internal/structural and administrative issues which kind of put a damper on my experience, but because of my cohort mates … I was able to push through and not let that doom my experience completely. My cohort had 22 girls and 1 guy. It was kind of diverse, but I did expect there to be more diversity than there was. There were students of all different backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, nationalities and class levels. It was very hard for us to become a cohesive unit because of all of these things.
People would say things that would offend other people and often times we would not know how to go about addressing it because we were not comfortable with each other and didn’t know each other well enough. During discussions in class, people were afraid to speak up because of the fear of saying the wrong thing or just for the simple fact that they did not know what to say. One course that I was taking focused on poverty and development as it applied to Cape Town, poverty is a very sensitive topic. The issue of how can one speak on something they have never experienced was a recurring theme in the class. One day during class, a theatre practitioner came in and had us role play. It was an experience that I will never forget. There were different roles that we would have to speak from such as; Black Woman, Homeless Man, Not Caring person, Oppression, and “The System”. This exercise was very emotional and one that I would recommend for every team who needs to become closer. This experience also gave those who don’t usually speak up an opportunity to get out of their comfort zone. I wish we could have done this exercise at the beginning of the program, but nonetheless it achieved its purpose. I think it helped us see each other in a different light which helped end the program on a positive note.