Of all of the many English speaking countries to choose to take a High School Exchange Programme, South Africa, and more particularly, Cape Town, must be up there as one of the favourites.
A study abroad programme in your Gap Year is a wonderful way to take those first steps to adulthood or further education and with English being the official Language, you wont go far wrong. Of course South Africa actually has more than eleven official languages with English and Afrikaans being at the top and then Zula and Xhosa ( pronounced similar to “ Corsa” ) followed by , Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda. Phew! It goes without saying that you can expect all south Africans to speak at least 2 languages and some of them three or more. English is widely spoken just about everywhere, even in the more traditional Afrikaans areas.
Having a High School Year in South Africa is really something of a once in a life time opportunity! You can come to cosmopolitan cities such as Cape Town; Port Elizabeth or Durban and not only embrace the English Language, but learn more about the diversity of the country and its people.
All of the South African people are keen about preserving their beautiful country and its wildlife and you can volunteer on many of the “ Volunteer Programmes” in your free time. In fact many of the High Schools positively encourage their pupils to attend some volunteer or conservation project . Some of these projects fall under the “ Youth for Understanding” which means that they help young people to understand the importance of conservation.
If you are attending a High School – Academic year Programme then you will probably stay in a cafeully selected host family who will have children at your school or who lives nearby. These host families play an important part in your Study Abroad Programme and will help you adjust in the first few weeks of your time in South Africa.
They will be chosen because they really appreciate the importance of showing foreign students their wonderful country whilst these students are improving their English. During school holidays your host family may take you on a short holiday to a National Park; Safari; Camping and Hiking or even drive overland to Namibia. It will be a real adventure wherever you choose to stay and so its important to get the most out of your stay in South Africa and ensure that during Semester Breaks, your education programme continues, whilst all the time speaking and improving your English.
Service Learning Programes are run adjacent to most English Language Programmes in South Africa. Its such an amazingly diverse Country that you will find it hard to make a choice on the destination to stay in. Don’t worry though, because South Africans love to travel and they think very little of driving a thousand miles to visit Kruger Park or hike up local mountains just to watch the sunrise.
International Travel should be part of everyone’s life and it is never more exciting than done when you are young. This is the best time to make new friendships and learn new things. Many European students love to come to South Africa, and more particularly Cape Town so they can enjoy days of sunshine and surfing after school ,
In fact many of the study abroad programmes here in South Africa offer additional subjects to learn whilst there such as Surfing; Conservation of Sea life; volunteering in more deprived areas or Wildlife Programmes. The choice of volunteering during your High School Programmes is indeed plentiful and varied.
If you choose to go to Cape Town you will see that whilst it is South African, it is also very European. Having their Winters when we have our Summers, means that many Europeans go there from November to March and have been known to be called “ swallows “ on account of this. This is probably why the most popular time for High School Abroad Programmes to be chosen, are the ones starting in January so that you can enjoy your first few weeks abroad going to the Beach after school and learning to surf.
Although you can visit South Africa on a High School Programme from anywhere in the World, the most popular countries are those which are non English speaking, so that during your Gap Year or Academic Semester you return home speaking English “ almost like a native!”
The choice of schools can be quite daunting such again in South Africa you have a huge choice of High Schools from single gender ones to sporting ones to academic ones to small African ones. The choice is endless, that’s for sure.