CISABROAD BLOG · November 30, 2019 · 4 Min Read
My First Day in South Africa | Intern Blog from South Africa

My journey to South Africa

Before even leaving America, I specifically chose a window seat so that I could sleep against the side of the plane for the nine hour plane ride to London Heathrow. Getting on the plane, I found that  my seat is SO far back on the plane that the walls bow outwards and there is a solid two-foot gap between my seat and the side of the plane. All the stress of securing a window seat for quite literally nothing. Go figure.

My First Day in South Africa

But things picked up once I arrived in London. It would’ve been dumb of me to not have fish and chips with mushy peas, even if I was only in London for a ten hour layover.

Later that night, I came barreling down the terminal to finally meet a few people from the CIS Abroad program for the first time. We quickly made acquaintances and we were feeling good for our 12 hour plane ride to follow.

Arriving in Africa, greeted by the rain

After our long flight, we safely arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. We could finally say that we set foot on the continent of AFRICA. Wild. Customs went more smoothly than I would have ever thought. Our driver, who picked us up from the airport told us that it was the coldest temperature Cape Town had been since he could remember (55F) and that they were experiencing “the worst storm in 50 years.” 

My First Day in South Africa

At first, we thought he was being dramatic — it was literally just windy with some moderate fog covering Table Mountain. I was comfortable wearing shorts and a tank top. But as the day progressed, we experienced how heavy the rain truly was. It would come and go as if somebody threw a cup of water in your face and then kept walking (but would also turn back around to laugh at you). So naturally we assumed the worst and thought, “Wow, this is what the next nine weeks are going to be like? What did we get ourselves into?” I knew it was winter in the southern hemisphere and that the winter months were South Africa’s rainy season, but apparently I chose to ignore those facts — evidenced by the fact that 90% my suitcase was warm weather clothing.

I was delivered to my house in the suburb of Observatory. Some of my housemates had been there for months prior, some were leaving in just two weeks time, and all of them were from different countries.

Getting to know my roomate and house

Soon the other CIS Abroad Intern who was going to be living with me, Courtney (soon-to-be best friend), showed up we got a tour of the house. My bedroom had a window to the living room for whatever reason. The house was actually really fun – it had beautiful tile artwork on the floor, there was a large living room with a TV, we had a pool table, we had a nice kitchen with appliances, and we had an in-home washer and dryer (which came in clutch later on).

My First Day in South Africa

Courtney and I later took a walk to the local grocery store for lunch and picked up a few things to make lunch. We tried our luck with the most basic sandwiches (don’t worry, we were much braver when it came to trying new foods throughout our stay).

Unforeseen things happened…but we survived!

Later that night, we met up at Tigerlily’s house (another CIS Intern, another soon-to-be best friend). Once we got there, we entertained the idea of ordering a pizza for delivery for dinner but realized we had no way to call and order it since we hadn’t set up our local SIM cards yet. And to top it all off, neither Uber nor Uber Eats were in service due to the torrential downpour rain. Ultimately, we ended up calling our CIS onsite director to order us pizza on her South African phone so that we would be able to actually eat dinner on our first night in Observatory . She was so incredibly sweet and helpful and it made for a we’ll-laugh-about-this-later bonding moment: We had somehow managed to survive our first day in Africa!

My First Day in South Africa


Learn more about all the programs in South Africa! 

Read more about other blog posts from South Africa!
Read more about Riley’s program in South Africa!

The CIS Abroad blog is run by Zoë Crabtree, Jenn Weisgerber, Siobhan Tripp, Emily Negard, and more folks on our marketing team. Head over to the “Meet the Team” page to learn more about us as individuals. On the blog, we share student-written content and information for students, advisors, other study abroad professionals, and families of students studying abroad. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more from us and our students!