South Africa is a large country at the bottom tip of the African continent. Its nine provinces each have a distinct personality and something special to offer.
The entire country is crowded with amazing natural scenery, and not just one kind of scenery. There are sandy coastlines, mountains and waterfalls, huge forests, deserts, scrub and bush, not to mention one of the six floral kingdoms of the world, found only in the Western Cape. South Africa’s wildlife is spectacular, from the famous big game animals found in reserves such as the Kruger National Park to rare coastal birds.
South African people are warm and hospitable and represent one of the broadest range of cultures in the world – where else will you find eleven official languages? Among the many cultures that call this country home you will find descendants of black African tribes, English and Dutch colonialists, Indian, Portuguese, Asian and French immigrants.
South Africans are known for their relaxed and laid-back lifestyle, with the famous braai (barbeque) as a favourite way to gather family and friends together on the weekend. Most South Africans are crazy about sport, whether watching it or playing it. The most popular sports are soccer, surfing, cricket and rugby.
This country’s history stirs the emotions. The apartheid policies of the old National Party government separated black and white inhabitants and discriminated against black and coloured people. After the fall of the apartheid, Nelson Mandela became President in 1994, and then the country finally united to become a true rainbow nation. History can be seen today in the way that first and third world live side by side, and Western influences blend with tribal African traditions.
The average school day for a student in South Africa starts around 7:30am and ends between 2:00pm and 3:00pm for high school students. The exchange program Students of the World offers you is a chance to attend high school for one, two, three or a full four terms. Additionally, you can choose to pair your schooling with hands on Industry Experience (IE) in either Office Administration and Management, Education, Healthcare and Social Work or Nature conservation. What a great way to study abroad AND receive some practical hands on work experience too!
South African cuisine includes both cookery practiced by indigenous people of Africa such as the Sotho- and Nguni-speaking people, as well as styles that emerged from several waves of colonisation and immigration.
Some dishes you will find in South Africa is Boerewors – a traditional South African sausage, Chakalaka and pap – a cold veggie dish usually served along with Braai/Shisa nyama, a South African BBQ!
The majority of people in South Africa use informal minibus taxis as their main mode of transport. They also have the regular bus that covers outers areas of the city.
Generally, the climate ranges from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of South Africa to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast.
A small area in the northwest has a desert climate. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights. South Africa’s mid-summer is in December and January, while mid-winter is in June and July – like Australia!