Sophia is studying a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Mercy College NYC. She joined the VACorps Program in January 2019 and participated in an internship at a tech incubator.
“Moving to South Africa for 3 months was not something I deliberately set out to do; last summer when I started looking into studying abroad, I realized my school didn’t have any options that I truly was interested in and began searching for alternatives. I stumbled upon some “Intern Abroad” companies and somehow came across VAC – and that’s when I began to fall in love with the idea of venturing to Cape Town (especially after my 40-minute phone call with Oliver). Most of my friends decided to study abroad together in larger groups, all in Europe, but I didn’t want to country hop every weekend and I didn’t want to already know everyone prior to arriving. I wanted a unique experience that would make me a bit uncomfortable at times because when you go beyond your comfort zone, amazing things can happen. The experience I gained at my internship site was fantastic – I worked for a startup accelerator that assists FinTech startups across the continent in meeting investors, mentors, and potential partners, as well as Uprise. Africa, South Africa’s first equity crowdfunding platform. The amount of responsibility and ownership I was given was a bit astonishing to me; as a 19 (now 20) year old, there was no concern or thought given to my age – all that mattered was the quality of the work I was doing. I loved my coworkers and already miss rocking up to work every morning.
I think that overall the best part of VAC and the best part about South Africa, in general, is meeting so many different people. In a program like VAC or using a company like Rent-A-Room for housing, you will meet people from literally all over (some of my best mates here are from the Netherlands and some live 40 minutes away from me back in the States) and honestly make some longtime friends (which is great if you love to travel!). I lived in 197 Lower Main, the house with 17 people, and I would definitely recommend living there if you want to feel like you’re part of a family (fair warning, if you like it quiet then maybe a different house would suit you better). The trek to work was a bit far (I worked near the V&A Waterfront), but it was worth it – life in Obs is great; there’s a variety of food options, bars, etc.
If you’re coming to intern with VAC, maximize your time in Cape Town, in South Africa….there is so much to see and do and experience. I was only here for 3 months but I desperately wish it was longer. I also went on the MozKruger trip, which was INCREDIBLE. Mozambique is a hidden gem and the only way you will get to truly experience it is with the crew from VAC (I only say this because it would be so difficult and expensive without Sean & Jon (and Kim & Carmen!!!)…also, it wouldn’t be as fun). 100% get scuba certified and dive as many times as possible in Mozambique – no one else will have the same experience as you. I have seen some amazing Instagram posts showing off a weekend away in Europe or astonishing Spring Break trips…but trust me, they can’t compare to Mozambique (or Kruger!!! We saw baby elephants and rhinos and cheetahs…AHHHH so cool!)
If you want to have a different experience and are up for an adventure (and are good when it comes to going with the flow), then VAC is perfect for you.”