Why learn English in South Africa
Set on studying English abroad, but still wondering where to go? South Africa may be not on the top your list – but it should be. A land of lush landscapes and incredible nature, with a complex history that has left a mark on its architecture, food and languages (there are 11 official ones), it’s a unique and exciting place to learn English. Here’s why you should study English in South Africa:
The “different” factor
It’s extremely common to hear students talk about their courses in the US, Australia, and the UK. But South Africa has still remained a fairly low-key option for English language study. Studying English in South Africa ticks all the boxes you want—fun cities, excellent courses, splendid outdoors, great climate—with the added bonus of being a less routine destination choice.
Students from warm climates won’t have a difficult time adapting to South Africa’s—and visitors from the snowy north will welcome the change! Studying in South Africa won’t require that you get a whole new wardrobe of jackets, boots, and winter woollies. And this makes packing and pre-departure preparation easy. (Don’t forget your swimsuit though, which brings us to our next point!)
No one can argue against South Africa’s stunning beaches. On the Western Cape, see African Penguins on Boulders Beach or people watch and while away an afternoon on the white sands and blue waters of the four Clifton Beaches. For birdlife, whales, dolphins, and scenic mountain views, drop by Hawston Beach.
South African slang
“Now,” “now now” and “just now”. Um, when exactly? (Let us know if you understand the difference after your course!) South African slang has strong Dutch connections, as well as ties to the country’s other official languages. It’s often eclectic, whimsical, and sweetly literal. Think circles for traffic roundabouts and robots for traffic lights. Other terms to add to your must-use list are braai (barbecue), boet, bra, bru, chommie, china, and cuz (brother, friend, mate), ag man! (oh man, used to express shock, surprise, resignation or irritation), domkop (dummy), is it? (is that so?, inserted often into conversation), jol (a party), skinner (gossip) and lekker (tasty, great).
Sandwiched between Table Mountain and the ocean, Cape Town is truly beautiful. Fiercely cosmopolitan, with great nightlife, awesome food markets, weekend road trips galore—Cape Town’s multicultural influence from its German, Indonesian, British, French, Dutch history is palpable. Study abroad students are (understandably!) wowed by its fusion of modern, Victorian, and Edwardian architecture; clothing markets; street food and cafe culture; and quirky neighborhoods—all backdropped by mountains and fringed by stunning coastline.
Scuba diving, go home: South Africa is the land of shark cage diving, an activity certainly not for the faint of heart that works exactly as it sounds. (What to try it? Head to Gansbaai on the West Cape, also known as the world’s White Shark Capital.) Other water sports worth trying are wind boarding, kiteboarding, parasailing, and sea kayaking. While those who prefer their extreme sports with a side of heights can try or bungee jumping the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge: Bloukrans Bridge’s 216 meter drop.
Good value for money
Prices for rent, food and transport are generally affordable in South Africa when compared with other English-speaking countries, including its Southern Hemisphere neighbours, Australia and New Zealand. This means that your budget will go further—which makes a happier bank account (and maybe a longer stay?).
Go on a surfing safari…
Experienced surfers point their boards to Eland’s Bay, about three hours from Cape Town, or to the ominous sounding Dungeons; accessible only by boat and one of the world’s Big Wave spots. Surfers of all levels will find waves to suit at Jeffrey’s Bay (with the whimsically-named Salad Bowls, Supertubes, Boneyards and Kitchen Window surf spots), Durban (try Dairy Beach), and Muizenberg (one of National Geographic’s Top 20 surf towns).
…or a regular one!
“South Africa” and “safari” are all but synonymous and Kgalagadi and Kruger are the country’s two top choices. Kgalagadi is less densely-populated with wildlife, though it is an excellent place to spot big cats and birds of prey. Kruger is excellent for the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant), and offers bonus sightings of crocs and hippos, plus lesser-known, though regularly spotted aardvarks, hushbabies, pangolins, aardwolves and wild dogs.