South Africa Study Abroad

The diverse culture of South Africa makes it a prime location for a truly international experience. Plunge from the world's highest bungee jump, cage dive with great sharks, ride an ostrich, or learn to surf. South Africa has enough adventure opportunities to keep you busy for a lifetime.
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Semester in South Africa

South Africa

Study in the heart of the Cape Winelands, in the country’s oldest college town. Debate South African politics with the Political Club, learn to sail with the yacht club, or take a world-famous safari to see the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo).

Summer in South Africa

South Africa

Ride an ostrich, visit a colony of beach penguins, and explore Tsitsikamma National Park this summer. Field trips, hands-on community service projects, and expert guest lecturers make this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

South Africa is considered one of the most diverse countries in the world, in every sense of the word. Geographically, it boasts an impressive range of climates and natural features, from mountains and high plateus, to beautiful, Mediterranean-like coastline, and desert. It's a blend of a variety of cultures and ethnicities, including Sub-Saharan African, European, and Asian. It's considered a developed and commercialized country, but there's a large disparity between the "haves and have nots."

CISabroad offers semester and summer study abroad programs in beautiful Stellenbosch, a college town set outside of Cape Town. Stellenbosch is revered for its wide tree-lined streets, cafe culture, European heritage, and location in the Cape Winelands, flanked by prominent mountains. Choose from a variety of African and South African topics such as Apartheid, HIV and AIDS in Africa, Human Rights, and South African History, as well as broader topics, as you study for a semester or summer.

Top 3 Subjects You Should Study in Stellenbosch, South Africa

South Africa’s history is a struggle with racial and political violence, but is still growing and progressing socially and politically. For students of political science, international relations, or social justice studying abroad in South Africa will provide the opportunity to reach a deeper understanding about the country and the political institutions that shaped its history, all while applying relevant case studies from South African history to you coursework.

With CISabroad and Stellenbosch University’s course catalog, there’s so much to choose from; as a political science major, you should take advantage of all available courses while studying abroad in South Africa. Courses related to:

1. Gender Studies in Africa
Much like the rest of the world, women and people in the LGBTQ community in South Africa, and other countries in Africa, are struggling to share their voices and gain true equality. Recent legislation passed in Stellenbosch to protect LGBTQ persons, and yet violent hate crimes continue to be an issue in South Africa and across the African continent as a whole. There is still a constant, steady increase in gender-based violence despite progress being made in policy with gender equality and affirmative action legislation. In class, you’ll study these marginalized groups, the impact of cultural relativism, the persecution of LGBTQ individuals, and the struggle between progress and tradition. Through the lens of African history, specifically the political and social progress, or in some cases lack thereof, you’ll be studying identity politics, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, among other socially and politically charged subjects.

2. Transitional Justice in Africa
Transitional justice is the applied judicial and non-judicial measures that attempt to amend and provide reparations for human rights abuses. Africa as a whole has a complicated history ravaged by political violence and inter-ethnic rivalry, with many instances of transitional justice going unchecked. Transitional justice is a response to these post-conflict situations, creating international military and criminal tribunals, domestic prosecution, conditional amnesty, and reparations.

Using post apartheid South Africa as a case study you’ll get a better look into transitional justice. For example, In 1995 South Africa established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to address abuses committed during apartheid. The TRC implemented an extensive statement taking process, where victims and family members of victims could report the atrocities they or a family member experienced. These statements were then used for declarations of victim status and reparation payments. The TRC focused on helping the victims, rather than solely punishing those responsible, a new approach to transitional justice. If you’re unfamiliar with transitional justice and different types of post-conflict justice, you will be introduced to these ideas and topics throughout the semester.

3. Politics and Culture in South Africa
After addressing South Africa’s tumultuous political and social past in gender and identity and transitional justice, it’s important to now look towards the future. Here you’ll be addressing the current political and cultural climate in South Africa, and looking forward rather than back. Apartheid played a large role in shaping the political and cultural landscape of modern South Africa. It wasn’t fully dismantled until 1993, with the elections held in 1994 being the first in South Africa with universal suffrage. Within the context of post apartheid South Africa you’ll analyze political institutions and societal/cultural norms in Stellenbosch. This subject may be labeled as sociology coursework, but is still relevant to political science and will round out your semester studying in South Africa

At the end of the day, studying abroad is about choosing the most relevant coursework to compliment your degree and contribute to your immersion in your host country. Political science courses in South Africa will challenge you to think critically as you apply theories and solutions discussed in class to case studies taken right out of South African history books. Take this into account when making your decision, and know that these three subject areas are just a handful of the types of available courses to take through CISabroad and Stellenbosch University, but can act as the foundation to studying political science in South Africa.

What Else Should I Know Before Studying Abroad in South Africa?

From its wild landscape to its vibrant people, South Africa is a country with so much to offer as a study abroad destination. A summer or semester in Stellenbosch with CISAbroad will be filled with interesting lessons in South African culture and plenty of adventure to satisfy your inner adrenaline junky.

South African Culture
South Africa today is known as the rainbow nation. The term was initially used by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa and was later adopted by Nelson Mandela when he described South Africa and its people, saying, “Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”

South Africa is indeed a rainbow nation, and the nickname reflects the multiculturalism and unity of the country that once existed with strict social and cultural divisions. During a summer or semester abroad in Stellenbosch you’ll be surrounded by new foods, new styles of dance, and a new language.


South African food is aptly called rainbow cuisine because of its multicultural origins. It is influenced by indigenous South African tribes, India, Indonesia, and the European nations who previously colonized the country like the Dutch, German, French, Italians and British. Popular dishes include biryani, an indian influenced rice dish, boerewors, a kind of sausage that is usually barbecued, and potjiekos, which translates to “small pot food” and is a stew traditionally cooked outdoors in a cast iron pot.


South Africa is a country with its own rhythm. Dance is a definitive part of South African culture, from the streets to its prestigious ballet, Stellenbosch is alive and moving to the beat of its own drum. During your summer or semester in Stellenbosch you’ll have the opportunity to experience a wide variety of South African dance traditions like the sokkie, a style of ballroom dance performed in socks or with bare feet, hence the name, and gumboot dancing, a style of dance performed in wellington, or gumboots (rainboots) that was originally created by black South African miners as an alternative to drumming.


Afrikaners are a South African ethnic group descended from the Dutch settlers that colonized the country in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Afrikaans is the third most widely spoken language in South Africa derived from the dutch spoken by early colonial settlers, but it is only one of the eleven official languages. You’ll have the opportunity to take part in language classes during your summer or semester in Stellenbosch with CISabroad.

Adventure in South Africa

Take a Hike
There are a wide variety of hiking trails to choose from around Stellenbosch, all with varying degrees of difficulty, from a leisurely stroll on a beach, to a true climbing adventure, South Africa will have a little bit of outdoor fun for everyone. If you’re looking for a rigorous hike with the promise of a cool swim at the end, check out: Krom River - this trail leads to a river with two icy rock pools, a short, moderate hike Suicide Gorge - lives up to its name, an extreme hike best completed with the help of a guide, with high jumps to the river and pools below Elephant’s Eye - another trail in nearby Cape Town’s Table National Park, it circles around Silvermine reservoir so you can take a swim after this easy to moderate hike

When studying in South Africa, you should take every opportunity to experience the natural beauty and wonder of the country. Don’t miss an opportunity to go on a safari at one of the nearby parks or nature reserves and spot “the big five.” The big five is a term coined originally by big game hunters in South Africa for the five main animals to hunt on a safari: lion, leopard, rhino and cape buffalo.

There are a few private game reserves near the winelands and Stellenbosch, but the best, most authentic, reserves and parks are not close to the city, so you might have to make a weekend out of it. Check out Addo Elephant Park for your weekend Safari adventure. It is the third largest national park in South Africa with a variety of options for guided or self-driven game drives and accommodations for different price levels

For grand adventurers and adrenaline junkees, studying in the Adventure Capital of the world is ideal. With plenty to see and experience there’s never a dull moment in South Africa.

Safety Tips
Personal safety is a priority when embarking on a study abroad experience. Stellenbosch, like many other major cities in the world, has earned a reputation for being unsafe, but with these universal safety tips you can minimize your risk and still take advantage of every opportunity when you study in South Africa. Know where you’re going and what you’re doing Avoid being out alone late at night, and try not to be out too late in a group either Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home Keep your phone and/or camera in your bag Keep your bag zipped and close to you or in front of you

Travel smart and travel safe, and your time in Stellenbosch will be unforgettable.