This past week, I arrived in South Africa and began my orientation as an international student at Stellenbosch University. When I first landed in Cape Town, I was absolutely shocked at how beautiful the landscape was in addition to the amazing weather. I had escaped a dreadful winter in the states and entered an African paradise that was full of tropical beaches and colorful vineyards. In fact, our orientation consisted of several networking events and outdoor opportunities where we could explore these places even further.
One of my favorite experiences has definitely been visiting Camps Bay which is a beach in South Africa that is known for its fine white sand, natural rock swimming pools, and views of the Twelve Apostle mountains. Our time at Camps Bay consisted of sunbathing, going for a swim, and getting to know other international students. We also explored the various restaurants, shops, cafes, and patios that overlook the beach area. At one specific beachside restaurant, I was able to indulge in the tastiest nachos.
In addition to visiting the South African beaches, we also went on a morning hike at the Coetzenburg Mountain Trail. The trail consisted of steep hills which made the trip a little difficult, but we were rewarded with the most stunning view once we completed the hike. When we reached the top of the Coetzenburg mountain, we were able to see all of the Stellenbosch vineyards, in addition to our university campus and other monumental areas in the region. It was truly such a beautiful sight and a great way to start the day.
Lastly, we ended our orientation week with a wine tram and tasting experience which consisted of a tour of two famous vineyards in Stellenbosch: Franschhoek wine farms and Rickety Bridge Winery. During the tour, we were able to taste different types of wine and witnessed a firsthand account of the wine-making process. I wasn’t a big fan of the wine; however, I really enjoyed the company and the charcuterie board that we were offered.
All in all, my orientation week was quite eventful, to say the least. From visiting the beach to hiking to even going on a wine tasting tour, I am so incredibly grateful for this experience and am so excited to see what other aspects of South African culture and lifestyle we explore next. Although, I will say that it has been a challenge to register for classes and get adjusted to a completely new university.