Is this res near the campus? Do I have easy access to other facilities like the gym? What is the food like and the rooms? Is Graca a nice res?
Having been at Graca myself and compared it to the other residences, I would have to say that it is certainly one of the “better” reses . While you may have been expecting the romantic setting of Fuller House with its ivy covered walls, Graca unfortunately does not offer this but it compensates in almost every other way.
Firstly, Graca is the most modern res which is clear by its careful, attractive design that includes a large balcony with a view of the mountain, a comfy colourful lounge with couches and bean bags, a tv room, three storied study rooms, a large laundry room and its own kitchen and dining hall.
Since Graca has its own dining hall, the quality of the food is generally better than that of the other reses which have to cook for many more people. The kitchen staff are also super friendly at Graca which makes one feel more at home. Some people however would argue that Gracians miss out on some of the social life as there are only females at Graca while other reses have both males and females dining together. However, I personally did not find this a problem as Graca is situated on lower campus which could be considered the social ‘hub’ since there are a bunch of residences both male and female in walking distance of each other.
All first years in Graca will share a room with a roommate while second and third years get their own rooms. The rooms are all identical with eight people sharing a bathroom and a kitchenette. There is a boiler for hot water, a microwave and storing space but no fridge is provided so this may be a consideration when coming to the res. The kitchens provide one with all the necessary utensils for meals but you may want to invest in cutlery, mugs and other eating utensils if you wish to eat something or make a cup of coffee outside of mealtime hours. I would also recommend bringing some dusting spray and a cloth as you are expected to clean your own room (though a broom and mop re provided).
Upon entering the room in Graca you will find and empty space with a large writing desk, a bed, a window, cupboards, shelves and a basin with a mirror. This space will soon look much better once you have set up your bedding and maybe put up a few photos on the pin board provided. In terms of wifi, most of uct provides free wifi for students (eduroam). At Graca, you can also get an ethernet cable from reception which you plug into a socket in your room which speeds up your internet.
Graca is conveniently positioned as it is right next to the gym which gives UCT students free access to the swimming pool, squash courts, volley ball courts and climbing arena. All the lower campus residences are within easy walking distance of main road where there are a variety of shops including Pick n Pay, Woolworths, KFC, Mc Donalds, Clicks, Nandos, Coco Wah Wah (cute coffee shop with delicious chocolate cake) and a whole bunch of other shops.
There are only two residences (Smuts and Fuller) up on campus but this is not a reason to be concerned as the university provides free transport in the form of blue jammie buses to all staff and students. These uses also travel to the mall (Cavendish), med campus, Hidding campus and Observatory. The buses can be caught at the Tugwell jammie station which is about 100 metres from Graca. You could also get some good excercise in by walking from Graca to upper campus as there is a beautiful scenic path from lower campus through middle campus which should take you a maximum of 20 minutes.
In general, I found the people in Graca to be very friendly and there is a great support system for you to ask for assistance at any time. O-week is a great opportunity to get involved in a lot of social activities and make friends with some people in the res which adds value to the res experience.
If you’re coming to Graca, don’t be expecting all the comforts of your home but you can be excited and reassured that you’re going to be living in probably the best res environment UCT has to offer!