Interning Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa | Guest Post

walking with lions on the Garden Route

JANABETH HERE—are you surprised? As DuoDiaries’ (self-proclaimed) number one fan, it was only a matter of time before I got the chance to write a post of my own.

Between bugging Tia about when the next DuoDiaries will be out and listening to T. Swift, I have been spending my time interning in South Africa. When Tia asked me to write this post, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to reflect on my experience as it comes to a close…

If you are ever considering/have the opportunity to go to Cape Town—TAKE IT! There is no possible way to sum up my experience in this short 500-1500 word blog post, but I will try my best. 

Volunteer Adventure Corps
THE BASICS: I have been in Cape Town since June 1, and my flight into Boston lands on July 30 (a fact I am still in denial about). Why Cape Town, you ask? Honestly, there was no real logic behind the choice besides the fact that I spent last fall in Copenhagen (through DIS) and wanted to go somewhere completely different. Elon University (where I go to school) offers winter term programs, so I was considering either New Zealand or South Africa. Then, one day in January, my friend, who graduated in May, asked if I would be interested in interning in Cape Town this summer. A few phone calls to my mom later, and I was signed up to be interning through a company called Volunteer Adventure Corps (VAC). Per South African laws, we unfortunately would not be getting paid, but the experience has definitely outweighed the cost. 

INTERNING: I guess you could say the hold point of me being in Cape Town is my internship. VAC is a program of (currently) 90 people, but the program structure allows you to come and go as you please, so when I first arrived it was more like 60 people. Everyone is here for something different (film, education, OPT, biology, etc.), but my internship was with Lauren Shantall, a communications management firm. It was a company of about 10 people working in the cottage (aka backyard) of the director’s house. As the communications intern I worked mostly with social media. I was immediately briefed on their clients (high-end home décor and lifestyle brands) and given the task of managing the social media for about four to five different accounts each day. I had other typical duties like contacting media to update the master media list and a little administrative work. Overall, it was a great experience/opportunity and I am nothing but grateful to Lauren and her team, but my internship seems like such a blip on the “big picture” radar that has been my experience as a whole. 

Table Mountain

TRAVELING: In case you do ever find yourself in Cape Town/South Africa, there is SO much to do. In addition to the three big hikes (Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head), Boulder’s Beach, Bo-Kaap, and other touristy sites, the two big trips I did were the Garden Route and Victoria Falls. The Garden Route is a scenic drive across South Africa with various destinations along the way. This was by far one of the most memorable parts of my trip (even though it was only 2 weeks in). Ten of us packed ourselves into two cars for four days and had the time of our lives wine tasting, going to a game reserve, walking with lions, kayaking, and just enjoying each other’s company. The other major trip was a weekend away to Zambia where we saw Victoria Falls, and Botswana where we did a day river cruise and game drive.

sandwich making for 67 minutes of service in honor of Mandela Day 
THE EXPERIENCE: There is not enough space on this blog for me to even begin to explain my time in Cape Town. I have spent the past two months exploring one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. I have also met the most amazing people and bonded in ways I never would have imagined. Coming into this trip, I can truly say I was unsure of what to expect, but whatever those expectations were, they have been exceeded. As I’ve said, the internship is why I came, but it is in no way the most memorable part of my time there. I will never forget driving eastward along the Garden Route with people I had known for less than a week, or sitting atop a river safari through Botswana. 

I guess the moral of the story is that you can never really predict the future. A year ago I was getting ready for the semester of a lifetime in Denmark, and never did I ever think I would be spending the following summer in Cape Town.

This past year I have been fortunate enough to see 14 new countries, and I am excited to see what this next year brings!

That's all for now,