I knew the University of Cape Town was a great school before I got to South Africa, but little did I know it was the best university on the entire continent. UCT’s campus is also stunning, as it is right in front of Table Mountain. The differences between classes at UCLA and UCT are plentiful, as are the similarities. Nonetheless, both experiences have been fun, wherein I feel as if though I have been academically challenged in both places.

In terms of similarities, UCT and UCLA both have a plethora of social clubs. I joined the squash team since I play squash at UCLA, and that was cool since I got to play with and against South African squash players. I went to UCT’s squash formal with an American and S. African too. Additionally, I decided to leave my comfort zone and join the canoe team, and it has one of my best decisions in CPT.

Another cool aspect about UCT is that similarly to UCLA, the campus and its students are socially aware and very active concerning social issues, such as mental health awareness and LGBQT issues.

If you are also worried about not having Janss steps to congregate on when you study abroad (if you decide to head to Cape Town), they also have their own version of it called the Jammie Steps, which I must say, gives UCLA’s steps a run for their money.

The biggest difference between UCLA and UCT, however, are the grading scales. At UCLA an A+ is a 97-100, an A is a 93-96, and A- is a 90 to 92 and so on and so forth. At UCT, I received a 75 on an assignment. I was disappointed and went to talk to the professor, until I learned that UCT had a totally different grading scale. First pass, or an A, is anything from 75 to 100, 70-74 is the second pass first division, or an A-, and 67-69 is second class second division, or B+, and the grades descend from there.

The class size difference at UCLA and UCT is also noticeable. The average class size for the courses that I was enrolled in at UCT was around 60 to 70 students. At UCLA, they have ranged from 75 to 300 students. Another difference is how much each assignment is worth (percentage wise). At UCLA, final exams usually range from 25 to 40 percent, but in contrast, at UCT, all of my final exams were fifty percent of the grade.

UCT may be different than UCLA in some regards, but it still felt like a home away from home, and it was an interesting and informative academic and social experience.

Kelli Hamilton studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, in fall 2018: