Heather O’Keeffe is a student at Case Western Reserve University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Heather is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cape Town, South Africa.
Deciding how to spend your time while studying abroad can be overwhelming: there is so much to do and so many amazing places to go! I am always conflicted in Cape Town: Should I go to the beach, climb a mountain, or head to the art museum?
I have always been one for the biggest and best, so I like to seek out a good superlative. This mindset helped me through my first semester at the University of Cape Town and guided me to some pretty cool places. Here are my top ten superlatives of the past semester.
10. Highest water slide in Africa – I was more than pleasantly surprised when I learned that the highest water slide in Africa was at uShaka Marine World in Durban. The moment of no return when I launched myself down the water slide and the ensuing spray of waters as I propelled towards the earth, gave me a giddy, childlike adrenaline rush! No matter how old you are or how cool you think you are, the highest water slide will always be cool!
9. Top surf spot in South Africa – Ask any surfer about Jeffreys Bay and they will surly know about J Bay and its beautiful right hand breaks. The surf is so good, J Bay is part of the surfing world tour. While I didn’t take on the famous waves at Supertubes or Bone Yards, I was content to body surf at the main beach and enjoy the simplicity of the salt water stinging in my eyes and the power of the ocean as I dove beneath crashing waves.
8. Top university in Africa – Studying at the University of Cape Town has been amazing. It is the best university in Cape Town and one of the best in the world. I’ve met amazing people from all walks of life and will never get tired of the beautiful walk to campus.
7. World Heritage Sites and Natural Wonder – On our ISA excursion we went to Robben Island, a World Heritage Site and the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. From Robben Island was a great view of Table Mountain, a Natural Wonder of the World. It was surreal to think that years ago, Mandela stood on the same island and looked across the bay to Table Mountain and a land where he could see freedom.
6. Southernmost point in Africa – Cape Agulhas and the southernmost point in Africa is marked by only a simple spot and for me was a point of reflection. I scrambled to a rock surrounded by the crash of the waves and before me lay unfathomable stretches of ocean and behind me lay the entire continent of Africa. I was surrounded my beauty and endless possibilities.
5. Highest country in the world – Lesotho has the highest lowest point in the world. It is a beautiful country of mountains, valleys, and plateaus. It is a very poor country though, and seeing the simplistic ways in which the Basotho people live broadened my mind to the diversity of the world.
4. World’s largest inland river delta – On a week-long break from school I was fortunate enough to travel to Botswana and Okavango River Delta. The river seeps into the earth and creates a fertile haven for plants and animals. Traveling into the depths of the delta on mokoros, I left the hustle and bustle of society behind me and entered a beautifully isolated world, where nature rules and humans must always be weary of a territorial hippo.
3. Largest waterfall in the world – Depending our your criteria, Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world. The power of the water that is poured over the edge created an incredible rainfall of water. Traveling to Victoria Falls allowed me to wander through Zimbabwe, a country that uses U.S. Dollars because its own currency collapsed. Yet again, another reminder of our the intricacies of globalization and how the human story is connected across borders and oceans.
2. Highest bungee bridge – Talk about an adrenaline rush! Going bungee jumping at Bloukran’s Bridge, located just outside of Port Elizabeth, was insane! Jumping off a bridge and swinging through a canyon was probably the most exhilarating thing I have ever done. If you’re going to jump off a bridge it may as well be the biggest one in the world.
1. Best city in the world – The New York Times listed Cape Town as the number one city to visit. I can attest to the validity of that claim. There is always something to do in Cape Town and at least once a week this city takes my breath away. Cape Town’s diversity has broadened my thinking as global citizen and its rich history has pushed me to learn about the world around me. The past six months in Cape Town have been remarkable and I know my second semester in Cape Town will be better yet.
Choosing to come to Cape Town is the best decision I’ve ever made and that’s a superlative I’m proud of!
I got really excited when I found out that this post was written by a fellow Spartan who ended up in Cape Town…I hope u are having a blast…god knows I certainly did.