As it turns out, a month abroad isn’t very long. My arrival in Cape Town, South Africa, was 10 days ago, which means I now have a mere 17 days remaining in this wonderful country for my Child Life practicum opportunity. I want to see it ALL, but I also have daily and weekly assignments for practicum as well as the balance with my additional course back home that runs for the entire semester. How do I make it all work? In part, I’ve adopted the motto “sleep is for the weak,” though I’ve also become accustomed to intense bouts of focus and adding time-blocking to my days. With the help of these two skills, I spend three days a week devoted to academics and four days devoted to F U N. It does help that my practicum work in the hospitals of Cape Town is fun on its own, but I still feel like I’ve allowed myself plenty of opportunities to see all Cape Town has to offer.

Two of my classmates and myself at the summit of Table Mountain.
Some of my classmates and I spent Saturday morning hiking Table Mountain – one of the Natural Wonders of the World.

While many individuals study abroad for an entire semester, my programme is four weeks of intense hospital training to meet the requirements of a child life practicum. Our mornings are spent in the hospital, working and playing with children to learn about development, how hospitalizations impact theirs, and how we can best support them. Monday through Wednesday, I’ve committed to being “boring.” It’s off to the hospital, work, a quick break for lunch, and then straight into writing assignments, reading for my course back at UA, and a plethora of meetings, but I go in with the mindset that after these three days, I am entirely free to work at the hospital in the morning and explore Cape Town in the afternoon. This mindset has led to treks up Table Mountain, a day spent on the waterfront and visiting Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and many others fighting apartheid were once in prison, afternoons spent at Camp’s Bay on the beach, ample time for fine dining with friends, and tomorrow – a surf lesson! Surfing. On a Thursday afternoon…casual.

I’ve even made a few animal friends in my downtime

To anyone considering studying abroad and facing the temptations that a new country has to offer, I offer this: you can have your cake and eat it, too. Academics are important. Global exploration is important. With scheduling and a drive to succeed, they can both be beautifully balanced. Remember your schoolwork, carve out dedicated times to get the work done, but set a specific time that is simply for exploring whatever country you end up in.

Looking forward to seeing just how much I can squeeze in to these 17 days remaining in Cape Town!