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  • Graham Parsons

    “Urban Studies and Studying Abroad in South Africa are highlights of my UM experience.”

    "I began my Urban Studies minor with the “Cities in Time and Space” (URB 301) course in my freshman year, not initially expecting to find much commonality with my interests.  I would realize, though, how the interdisciplinary nature of the minor actually integrates many of my academic interests within the context of growing urban environments.  Studying abroad further enhanced my discovery of this field.  Specifically, the opportunity to travel to South Africa, with the intention of following a holistic, fully encompassing experience, greatly enriched my learning experience, both academically and personally.  While other study abroad programs offer tremendous experiences, the unique urban-cultural geographic environments of South Africa are second to none.  It is crucial, I believe, to experience both Cape Town and Johannesburg, which the program allows you to do, because of their idiosyncratic differences in the context of South Africa, and their major differences from other world cities (e.g., Miami). Opportunities for cultural and personal learning on the ground in South Africa are immense.  Specifically, how one views oneself in relation to the rest of the world is regularly questioned. South African cities are urban learning laboratories where considerable learning takes place without being overwhelmed, as these cities present much of what Americans are accustomed to in terms of most facets of society but within totally different historical, racial and cultural contexts. While time spent in South Africa goes very quickly, on account of all the fantastic sightseeing and activities one is immersed in, it is not until later that one reaps the benefits of in-depth learning and cultural learning. I cannot be more thankful to the UM, the study abroad program, Dr. Grant and the Urban Studies Program, for providing me the opportunity to experience and learn so much. I highly recommend studying abroad in South Africa: it is the learning experience of a lifetime." 

  • Kaelyn Lynch

    “Service learning abroad was a life-enriching experience”

    "All throughout my time at UM, I had heard people talking about studying abroad as, “the best thing they ever did for themselves.”  While I believed them, I did not understand the true meaning of those words until I went abroad to Cape Town the spring of my junior year. 

                Regardless of where I decided to go, studying abroad was going to be a novel experience for me, as I had previously never left the US.  However, going to South Africa was particularly unique, as I was exposed to real-world issues in a country still recovering from the throngs of state-sponsored racism and oppression.  For me, engaging in service was instrumental to this learning experience.   Through it, I was introduced to the multi-faceted issues facing South Africa, and the complexity of their solutions.  Additionally, it allowed me to have meaningful interactions with the local community and meet people from various parts of South Africa and other African countries.  Most importantly, service learning gave me the opportunity to make some small impact on a country that gave me so much.

                Studying abroad for me was not so much a life-changing experience as a life-affirming one.   It confirmed that for me, travel and learning about different cultures are going to be significant parts of my future career.   The keys to a meaningful experience were keeping an open mind and making a concerted effort to connect with locals.  Moreover, it taught me to treat every experience, positive or negative, as a part of my learning process and a new adventure. 

               Going abroad was an absolutely crucial part of my personal, academic, and professional development.   I returned from South Africa with an entirely new perspective, and a renewed love and appreciation for living.  By the end of my five-months there, I felt more at home in Cape Town than I ever have in the US.  It is something that I will carry with my forever as an incredible first step towards the rest of my life."

  • Gina Samson

    "Although I was half way around the world, there was always another UM student close by or an adult that I could call or email with any concerns..."

    "Studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa was not only new, fun, and exciting, but also the most fulfilling and life changing experience that I have ever been given the opportunity to enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I took, which included an English class focused on South African literature, a class focusing on crime in South Africa, and an African Instruments class where I learned to play some authentic African instruments. Each UCape Town student was also enrolled in a six-credit urban studies course that involved service learning. The real goal of studying abroad is to become fully immersed into a new culture and environment. Part of what makes studying abroad so special is the connection you are able to make with people who live such different lives from yours. My experience with getting to know locals came from my service learning, where I taught in a school in one of the extremely poor areas outside of Cape Town. I truly fell in love with the children in my fourth and fifth grade English Classes, and was able to make close relationships with organizations who reach out into the less fortunate communities of Cape Town. Embracing a new culture while simultaneously feeling so at home, was a unique feature of the UCape Town program. Although I was half way around the world, there was always another UM student close by or an adult that I could call or email with any concerns, although I do not think that anyone on the program ever had any concerns! In the five and a half months that I studied abroad, Cape Town became a second home to me."

  • Matt Hugel


    "Urban Studies faculty are passionate teachers”

    "When one thinks of what it means to live in a city, images of skyscrapers piercing into the heavens, cavernous stadiums roaring their teams to victory, or the incessant network of gridded pavement and highways are often conjured. When I signed up to take my first course at the University of Miami’s Urban Studies program, these were the topics I imagined I would be studying. Although urban studies courses take ample time to introduce students to the tangible aspects of a city, they also promote much deeper reflection. Urban Studies, at its core, paints a picture of what it means to be human. Questions range from, “How do humans socialize and interact?” to, “How do we transmit information, ideas, and products?” Urban Studies blends many subject matters – history, anthropology, psychology, architecture, geography, and biology to name a few – to tell this distinctly human urban story. As broad as the program’s content can range, the practicality is all encompassing. I have found knowledge in my Urban Studies curriculum that truly put my education into perspective. The passion of the faculty permeates classes in every possible way. Because Urban Studies is a minor, and all students in the program have wide ranging areas of academic focus, the courses are taught through a uniquely and refreshingly practical lens. Throughout the program, I found myself constantly considering ways, which I will utilize this knowledge throughout my career."