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Child Life Experiential Learning Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Cape Town, South Africa


Resident, 3 hours

Program Features

UI Faculty-Led


- 2.5 GPA

- Rising junior standing or higher

- Good academic and disciplinary standing

Academic Program

Cape Town Aerial View

This program is a 3-week, faculty-led course based in Cape Town, South Africa. Students will have the opportunity to work in a variety of hospital and clinical settings. Students interested in health and child life are welcome to participate regardless of major or skill level. Excursions will include a trip to Cape Point, Table Mountain, a Township Tour, and a Garden Route Game Safari.

Note: This program is not available for the Summer 2022 session.

Objectives and Goals

Table Mountain Cable Car

  • To understand the scope of when and where Child Life Professionals work and provide services, and to discuss the development of the profession internationally.
  • To prepare students to work with children and their families in a variety of healthcare settings. Students will understand the impact of illness, injury, trauma, and healthcare environments on patients and families in South Africa and help them develop appropriate coping strategies.
  • To examine psychosocial and developmental issues and how they are impacted by childhood illness and hospitalization in South Africa; also, to understand how that affects communication, preparation, bereavement, and support for children and families coping with stressful situations.
  • To explore how the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Maitland Cottage Home, and Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital operate on a daily basis and the activities these organizations provide to families.
  • To allow students a hands on opportunity to assist with a variety of tasks involved with the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Maitland Cottage Home, and Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital.

Excursions and Cultural Activities

Program Dates

This program runs every other year, the next session will be in the Summer of 2023.

For More Information

For more details about academic content, contact Faculty Director Bri Swope: For more information about studying abroad, contact the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 and schedule an appointment to meet with the advisor for this program.

Cape Town, South Africa

Penguins on beach in Cape Town

Learn more about Cape Town and South Africa by exploring the following webpages:

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.


People on top of Table Mountain

Students stay in a hotel with the program faculty member, sharing rooms with other program participants. An example of where students have stayed in the past is Mojo Hotel.

Travel Arrangements

Seals on Wharf in Cape Town

Students will receive instructions on making travel arrangements during a program-specific orientation session. There will be a suggested group itinerary; however, students will arrange their own flights to Cape Town. Those who do not have extensive travel experience are encouraged to book the same flights as the program director.


St, George's Mall in Camp Town

Note: This program is not available for the Summer 2022 session.

Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5, have rising junior status or higher, and be in good academic and disciplinary standing. You must be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university at the end of the semester, too.  If you are not in good standing at the end of the semester, your acceptance will be revoked and you will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees.

No prior knowledge of Child Life is required, but applicants should be interested in the topic. Student who do not meet GPA requirements or who are not yet juniors can schedule an interview with the faculty director. Please bring an academic letter of reference from a faculty/TA at the University of Iowa to your interview.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship Opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.


Cape Town City Hall

Cost Sheet 2019

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The program fee for Summer 2019 is $4,500. This fee includes instruction, lodging, some meals, the Table Mountain hike, two cultural events, day tours of Cape Peninsula, and the visit to the Aquila Game Reserve. It does not include the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, round trip airfare, Iowa Regents CISI health insurance, passport, immunizations, or any personal expenses.

Financial aid received to attend the University of Iowa may be applied toward the program cost. In addition, eligible program participants are encourage to apply for merit, need-based, and Diversity Ambassador scholarships awarded by Study Abroad. More information is available at:

How to Apply

Applications open 12/1/18 for summer 2019.

The application can be found here: UI Online Application. Please note that the non-refundable $50 application fee will be charged to your U-Bill as part of this online application.

The application process requires:

  • The completed online application with a short essay describing why you chose this program
  • A copy of the information page of your passport (if you are applying for a passport, please indicate this on the application and you can bypass this requirement temporarily)

For More Information

Ryan Ourada
Study Abroad Advisor & Program Coordinator

Phone: 319-335-0353

The University of Iowa
International Programs, Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802


Cape Town City Center Picture

  • Flight information for the faculty director, Bri Swope, will be provided to all participants. If you wish to book yourself on the same flight, please keep an eye on your email for those details.
  • UI Student Health Service Travel Clinic
  • Sample Syllabus (subject to change): Child Life SyllabusPDF

Vaccinations and Health/Safety

Lion's Head

Students should carefully review the following materials starting at least two months prior to departure:

Prepare for Departure

Health and Safety

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

We'll address many of the issues related to health and safety during the orientation sessions, but until then, our general advice is that it is best to check with your doctor about any health concerns before going abroad. Take a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website for South Africa-specific health information and visit your doctor or the Travel Nurse at Student Health for any vaccinations you might need.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course "Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation" prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your UI study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Resources and Cultural Information

Additional Resources

List of books, documentaries, films, videos, and online materials related to AfricaPDF