South Africa a Unique Experience for Those Interested in Studying Abroad

Published: November 13th, 2006

Category: News

A chance to view ancient rock paintings in Clanwilliam by the Cape’s first inhabitants, to take a constitutional law class in a country whose constitution is only a decade old, and to see lions, rhinos and penguins (yes penguins) are just some of the things students can expect from the Summer Law Program in Cape Town, South Africa.

South Africa Study Abroad

Despite all that, UF Law student Mike Pajcic, a past participant in the program, said his favorite experience was “playing soccer barefoot with people from all over.”

An Oct. 31 informational meeting on the five-week study abroad program featured faculty and student speakers from the previous summer’s Cape Town program. Students accepted into the program can take classes such as “Introduction to South African Law,” “Comparative Issues in Criminal Justice Administration,” and “Selected Issues in Constitutional Law,” taught by South African and American professors.

“South Africa is already the continent’s leader; the success of democracy in Africa depends upon its success in integrating a racially and culturally diverse population in a less politically diverse climate,” said Kathie Price, associate dean and director of the program.

The program, in which there is a dual focus on comparative and international law, includes visits to Parliament, courts and jails, and a chance to shadow members of the Cape Town Bar Association, which is completely integrated, said Price.

“The interesting thing about South Africa to me is that there are a lot of racial parallels with the U.S.,” said Professor Kenneth Nunn, a participant in the program.

“South Africa is simultaneously a first and Third World country,” said Price. “You’re going to come away with real questions of how successful its government can be in meeting the expectations of a rising middle class with expectations of land reform, jobs, and improved education, housing, and health services that are proceeding very slowly and may never be economically possible.”

Classes are taught at the University of Cape Town, a nationally diverse campus that is situated at the foot of Table Mountain. Last year’s students hiked to the top of the mountain, where the view was said to be amazing. The students also had a chance to go shark diving, and surfing, and visit wineries, the Cape of Good Hope, Clanwilliam, and Robben Island — famous for being Nelson Mandela’s incarceration site. They also went on a six-day, five-night safari, during which they saw animals such as rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and lions.

What really impressed student Alex Hadjilogiou was the faculty, which he called “very gracious and tremendously capable.”

Cape Town, which has a population of 2.9 million people, is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The country’s varied geography means students will have a chance to see desert, flatland, mountains and beaches. Housing is in the Camps Bay part of Cape Town, an affluent area near the ocean. Said Professor Nunn, “You can’t get this experience anywhere else or at any other time in your life.”

The application deadline is March 23, 2007. Students interested in studying abroad should visit the summer abroad section of the law school’s web site to find out more about the South Africa program, as well as study abroad programs in Costa Rica and France.