Climb a Mountain, Snorkel with Seals, Just do Something New!

Tessa Rendina University of Cape Town, South Africa


March 13, 2020
Currently Studying At: University of Cape Town, South Africa
Homeschool: Susquehanna University

Recently, I’ve started to stress about doing everything I possibly can. Since my last blog, I slept over in an aquarium to fundraise for literacy programs, attended a music festival on the beach, snorkeled with baby seals, watched an outdoor movie at the botanical gardens, explored caves at Kalk Bay, and found my new favorite food: Bunny Chow! Don’t worry, it’s not an actual bunny. It’s curry in a bread bowl and can be found at the local Indian restaurant, Maharajah!

While I’ve been busy and made plans for the upcoming weeks, I still feel a bit anxious about all the experiences I haven’t had yet; such as going to Boulders Beach to see penguins, driving through the Garden Route for Elephant Sanctuaries, attending a wine tour at Stellenbosch, and hiking Lion's Head and Devil’s Peak. If you’re feeling similarly I’ve compiled some ways to get involved and make the most of your time:


I can not emphasize this enough, and you get three for free as an international student! Joining Underwater Club helped me make South African friends and gave me access to events I wouldn’t even know about (i.e. Aquarium Sleepover, local music festivals, seal snorkeling). Surf Club allows me to rent a wetsuit and a board for two hours from Surfers Emporium for only 8 US dollars. In addition, they host Free Fun Days where I got a free lesson and pizza! Lastly, trying out for the soccer team was one of my best decisions. I only practice twice a week and play in one game on the weekends. Not only is this good for me to stay in shape in the offseason, it's helped me make so many local and international friends. It's nice to be involved in a familiar activity that reminds me of home too.


I am extremely scared of heights, but I’m working on it while I’m here. The first weekend we were in South Africa we went to a camp in the mountains called High Africa. While I participated in most of the activities, I opted out of the high ropes course. One of the workers asked me how I was going to get over my fear. I said “I won’t”, but since then, I’ve started indoor bouldering and became obsessed with hiking the mountain trails. It’s strange being a monthly member at Block Eleven, a local climbing gym. It's definitely something I wouldn’t do at home. Still know your limitations and be safe, but try to push yourself! The food is really good at Block Eleven by the way, so there's extra incentive to go.


The three classes I am enrolled in are all interesting and relevant in my life. My Poverty Development and Globalism course is my favorite since it relates to my major and gives me a different perspective than I’m used to. I genuinely enjoy attending classes and learning about the case studies in South Africa. My African Music 1 class is a first-level course, so the content and workload is not too difficult or demanding. Both classes increased my knowledge of South African history and culture, which allows me to better understand Cape Town. Arcadia’s program class takes us on field trips to places we might not have gotten to see. We’ve been to Robben's Island, !Khwa Ttu Cultural and Education Center, the District Six Museum, the play “Master Harold and the Boys”, and Bo Kapp. I’m looking forward to kayaking, hiking, and staying with a host family for a weekend through the Arcadia course.

There will be days you just stay in and clean, do laundry, and go to class. What I’ve found is saying yes to last-minute plans is the best. After two busy weekends in a row, I decided to lay low this week and get some work done. Despite this, I still said yes to hiking and exploring caves at Kalk Bay after a morning exam on Wednesday. I said yes to surfing at Muizenberg after my 8 am class on Thursday. And today, I slept in and am going to a picnic on Signal Hill and watch the sunset.

Not every day is going to be an adventure, but you can make a little adventure in each day. I am so grateful for the friends I made here and am thankful they are pushing me to do new things. Make local friends, do your homework at Cocoa Wah-Wah or the botanical gardens, plan to go to the beach after class, join a club that is completely out of your comfort zone (surfing for me), and join one that makes you feel at home. You don’t need to do it all at once. You have time.