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Sun, Sea and South Africa

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

From the moment the message was received about this trip, I knew I wanted to go!

The Cable cart is more scary than it looks- but worth the view!

From 21st to 29th September, I was extremely excited to be one of ten students from first year occupational therapy to be going to Cape Town, SA. In this article, I will share my experience on the field trip as well as reflecting on my time, learning about occupational therapy in South Africa and the opportunity to talk to other OT students. I hope you enjoy giving this a read.

The first weekend we were there we of course did some touristy things! I had never been to south Africa before so this was a new experience for me. We were staying in a hotel in Cape town and it had the most stunning views of Table Mountain and the sea. one of my favourite activities we did that weekend was definitely the big five safari and driving all the way to cape point.

We made it to the top of cape point!

The clinic at Hope community

After the weekend of sightseeing we visited many interesting places. On the first day we visited the children’s home which was in the centre of cape town. When we were there, we were given a tour of the site and we even ended up playing a football tournament with the children. During this first visit was when I first witnessed a culture difference in South Africa. The lady who managed the home stated ‘we can’t host children who are mentally retarded because we don’t have enough staff for these children’. The word ‘retarded’ put me in an uncomfortable position as I thought for a second, she was using the wrong descriptive word at first. This is because in the United Kingdom calling a service user ‘mentally retarded’ would be against regulations.

The next place we visited was the private paediatric centre called the success therapy centre. Here the group had a discussion with a paediatric OT who owned the centre. This was an interesting visit for me as on the occupational therapy course at Coventry university, unless you do a placement in paediatrics or your third-year option module in this then we don’t get taught OT in this area. We then visited HOPE which is an isolated community. One woman opened up a pre school for the children and babies in the community and she recently opened up a clinic which is a size of a cupboard. This type of place we visited they would be in need of occupational therapists but they don’t have the funds for this unfortunately.

On this trip we also visited occupational therapy departments in hospitals while we were there, one being Groote Schuur hospital. One aspect of occupational therapy I found interesting in south Africa is that students must study for four years and then they must work in the community for a year until they qualify as an occupational therapist, where as most occupational therapy course in England you qualify after three years.

There is so much more I could write in this post but I think it would be pages long. I am so grateful for this opportunity. This trip has taught me that you have to be aware of differences in culture as an occupational therapist. Also, the trip has greatly improved my confidence and I even made some new friends from my course which is even better. I would like to thank the lecturers and hosts in south Africa who help organise such a wonderful experience that I will never forget!

Traditional South African meal

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me via twitter @Rebecca51546111 or email This trip inspired me to apply for an international placement in my third-year. Following the field trip to South Africa, two of the places we visited are offering two placements for third year occupational therapy students at Coventry University. You never know, my next article might be about my travels and experience of an international placement…


Jamie Grant
Jamie Grant
Jan 27, 2019

Hi there Becca. Here's a comment shared by a connection of mine on LinkedIn, who saw the post about your blog:

"South African trained OT, living in UK for the last 15 years. I was in the first cohort of OT's who had to do the "Zuma year". Was a challenging experience, but it teaches you resourcefulness and resilience! Enjoy Cape Town" :)


Hub Team
Hub Team
Jan 24, 2019

Hi Rebecca, Thank you for sharing your really interesting experiences of occupational therapy in South Africa! We'll raise awareness of your Therapy Blog on social media, to bring it to the attention of fellow Hub Members and the public. All the best, The OT Hub Team

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