Cape Town, eKapa, the Mother City, Camissa (the place of sweet waters), //Hui !Gaeb (the place where clouds gather) – whatever you call this place, if you're new to it, welcome! This city is known for many things. But perhaps what makes it truly unlike any other place in the world is its mix of cultures (you can taste its diversity in its food, hear it in its songs, see it in the architecture), its contradictions (of mountain and sea, rich and poor, urban and natural) and its many challenges and opportunities. Like so much in life, what you get out of Cape Town depends a great deal on what you put in. Here's where to start your journey.
Arts and entertainment
Cape Town is home to many artists, dancers, designers, musicians and creative entrepreneurs – which means there's no shortage of places to enjoy music, dance, opera, theatre, art exhibitions, street art tours, or coffee-fuelled networking events. Established events on the annual calendar include Infecting the City in March (a week's feast of free public art performances staged primarily in the city centre), Cape Town International Jazz Festival (which brings out top international and local acts) in March, Design Indaba (a gathering of great design minds and local wares) in February, the Encounters International Documentary Film Festival in June, and the World Music Festival in July. Students looking for their theatre fix during the week can head to the Baxter Theatre Complex on lower campus, or the Little Theatre and other performance spaces at UCT's Hiddingh campus in the heart of the city. First Thursdays – in which art galleries and shops in the city centre stay open until late on the first Thursday of every month – is a great opportunity to experience the city centre and its art establishments at night.
Cape Town has a long, often hard history – which has shaped and continues to shape the everyday experience of people who live here. For a more personal insight into the histories and lives intertwined in Cape Town's present, visit the Iziko Slave Lodge (and other museums under the Iziko banner) and the District Six Museum, or go on the Revolution Route, a four-hour day tour through stories of revolutionary struggle in Cape Town, hosted by Coffeebeans Routes. For those who can't make the trip, a 45-minute audio tour through the city centre is available online.
Exercise and adventureThis city is known for its fitness freaks – and is home to a number of major sporting events, like the Two Oceans Marathon and the Cape Epic Prologue. Whether you're into cycling or surfing, soccer or salsa, rugby or running, yoga or capoeira – or if trail running up Lion's Head sounds like fun – there's a fitness group out there for you.
NatureCape Town has no lack of natural beauty, and UCT is seated in the middle of it all – at the foot of the Table Mountain chain, at the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom (the smallest and most diverse of the six floral kingdoms in the world), and with beautiful beaches to your left and right. If cut grass and curated areas are more to your liking, there are also beautiful parks dotted throughout the city, such as Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (a short drive away from campus), the Company's Garden (the city's 'green lung' in the city centre), and Green Point Urban Park (right next to the Cape Town Stadium).
Larger shopping malls that are accessible to students include Cavendish Square (which is one ride away from Jammie Shuttle stops), the V&A Waterfront, and (a little further afield) Canal Walk. Cape Town also has a growing pool of informal traders, farmers' markets and one-of-a-kind outlets where you can support the local economy by buying goods designed and manufactured in South Africa.
Check out the view
While there are many great vantage points from which to view Cape Town, few spots can trump Jameson Steps, which also serve as a central meeting point where you can catch your breath between lectures and study sessions.
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