The University of Iowa

Adventure of my dreams: interning abroad in South Africa

June 5th, 2014

By Brooke Axness

Brooke Axness, a native of Fort Dodge, IA, is a sophomore majoring in biology and global health studies at the University of Iowa. This summer she is interning abroad at a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa on the Connect-123 program.

girl sitting on sign in South Africa

First week in Cape Town, South Africa

As I sit here in my downtown flat in Cape Town, South Africa it seems almost surreal that I am here right now. I was born and raised in rural Iowa, so being able to look outside my 18th story window and have a fantastic view of the mountain, the ocean AND downtown is something completely foreign to me. Thinking on the past few months and my decision to come to Cape Town, I am sure I made the right choice.   

As weird as it sounds, Africa has always been the destination of my dreams. So while all my friends are heading on their European ventures I packed up to experience life in a third-world country for the summer. I set my sights on Cape Town for multiple reasons.

First of all it looked absolutely beautiful. I mean how many cities sit between the both ocean and gorgeous mountains? I also wanted to go somewhere exotic and completely unlike anything I was used to. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and be completely submersed in a different way of life. Being from the country, I figured Cape Town was about as polar-opposite as could be with its urban and coastal feel.

The final reason I chose Cape Town was because of the research internship I was offered in Groote Schuur Hospital located within the city. I figured working in a hospital in a developing country would no doubt be one amazing learning experience. Working with doctors that face the day-to-day challenges of what it is like to practice medicine in an underdeveloped nation will give me insight on the hard-hitting health concerns facing the world today.

I hope by the end of this summer I feel confident walking around the crazy streets of Cape Town. I hope I take away some great knowledge about research, and I hope I make memories and friends that will last a lifetime. Though I have only been here three short days, I can say with confidence that I will make those things happen!

city view in South Africa

The view from my apartment