Gap Year in South Africa

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South Africa, one of the most multicultural countries in the world, is impossible to generalize. In addition to the indigenous black peoples of South Africa, colonialism and immigration have brought in white Europeans, Indians, Indo-Malays, Chinese and many more. Home to captivating landscapes, exotic animals, sophisticated cities, world-renowned vineyards, famous townships and delicious cuisine, South Africa is a truly fascinating country. The difficulties South Africa has faced make it a rewarding place to spend a gap year.

Volunteering:

South Africa is a rewarding place to volunteer. It has struggled to recover from the many changes that have developed in the last 20 years and many people live on less than a dollar a day. While townships have started to improve, poverty is still widespread. If you're an international volunteer in South Africa you will have the opportunity to provide the underprivileged population access to better education and healthcare. Fight for human rights and help build a working infrastructure!

Group of Children in South Africa
Group of Children in South Africa
Adventure Travel:

To relax in your downtime, you should visit nearby beaches and enjoy the restaurants and entertainment by the waterfront. The beaches have become hubs for tourism, offering fun activities like scuba diving and snorkeling off the coast. Visit Robben Island and see where local heroes like Nelson Mandela and others were imprisoned during the apartheid.

Traveling is difficult in South Africa since the country suffers from widespread crime and consistent threats of terrorism. Think carefully about where you travel to and who you're traveling with. Don't travel alone at night and always have your possessions hidden.

Internships:

Recently, South Africa's economy made it to the top 20 in total GDP. South Africa's economy is on the rise, making it a good place to find an internship. While Cape Town is still a developing city, (many residents live in unsafe and overcrowded conditions) interning in South Africa gives you the unique opportunity to improve the lives of Cape Town's residents. Find an internship that matches your interests and offers you a chance to expand your horizons with cultural and learning activities.

Cost of Living in South Africa:

South Africa is cheap when compared to the Western world. Living in urban areas costs in terms of commodities, rentals and leisure activities. The rural areas tend to offer more of a quiet life and there are very cheap places to live in with lots of space. The cost of goods and food products cost only half of those found in supermarkets and grocery stores in the United States. For more info, visit Numbeo.

View of Cape Town at Night
View of Cape Town at Night
Culture and Etiquette in South Africa:

It is very difficult to define South African etiquette and culture due to the country's diversity. Greeting styles in South Africa vary depending upon the ethnic heritage of the person. When dealing with foreigners, most South Africans shake hands while maintaining eye contact and smiling.

Business attire has become more informal in many companies. Still, for the first meeting it's best to dress more conservatively. Men should wear dark colored business suits and women should wear more elegant business suits or dresses. It's important to realize that some women do not shake hands, but only nod their head in appreciation. When meeting a woman, it is best to wait for her to extend her hand. Men may also kiss a woman on the cheek if they are well acquainted. In general, greetings are leisurely and include time for the exchange of pleasantries.

Health and Safety in South Africa:

The government has failed to redistribute wealth which has made AIDS a huge health issue for the nation. There is a very high level of crime. Fortunately, most of the violent crimes occur in isolated areas away from tourist destinations. The driving standard is low and there are many fatal accidents.

Make sure to get travel and medical insurance before traveling. You should always have two blank pages in your passport on arrival and avoid giving personal or financial information details to anyone. Vaccinations will be required to protect you from a multitude of diseases. That being said, the South African citizens take pride in their fight against this suffering and need your support! For more info, visit the UK Foreign office website.

Elephants in South Africa
Elephants in South Africa
Why Take a Gap Year in South Africa?

South Africa's diverse landscapes and ethnic diversity make it a rewarding place to take a gap year. If you're in need of meaning and want to feel like you are part of making the world a safer and better place to live in, then South Africa will give you the unique possibility of becoming part of a rising social movement. Visit beautiful beaches, eat amazing local cuisine, learn about unique cultures, and support the fight for human rights!

Photo Credit: South African Children - Cape Town at Night - Elephants

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See another side to South Africa -- plus a side trip to Swaziland and Mozambique! -- with this 4-week adrenaline, conservation, volunteer and safari combo trip. Live on a private game reserve and take part in daily conservation activities...
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Projects Abroad has designed an innovative gap year program designed for high school students taking a year off before enrolling at a university. Participants are given an orientation in Ghana followed by immersion projects in Ghana, India...
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Eurocentres invites you to come study English language in Cape Town, South Africa this year! Multiple program options are available, giving potential students the chance to take the perfect course for them. Options include general language...
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Join Gap Year South Africa for an adventure during your gap year. This volunteer adventure program give volunteers the opportunity to obtain a PADI Certification, learn how to operate a vessel offshore and participate in volunteer programs...
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The national hockey team in South Africa has shown considerable success in the international field, and youth in South Africa are becoming increasingly passionate about playing hockey. Since hockey is not as popular as cricket, rugby, or...
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Volunteer abroad in South Africa during you gap year! Gap Year South Africa has designed this gap year volunteer program in collaboration with the Hillsong Africa Foundation. As gap year volunteers, participants have will work at an under-...
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Spend your gap year abroad in South Africa volunteer teaching in Port Elizabeth. Although, South Africa is considered one of the most developed countries in Africa, there are still communities in need of educational support. As a volunteer...
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This is an opportunity to take part in the world's first White Lion reintroduction project in the Timbatavi region of South Africa. Volunteers have the chance to take part in the conservation and monitoring of these rare animals, who are...
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GapYear Italy has partnered with The Galagos Wildlife Conservation to offer an amazing volunteer opportunity! The Galagos Wildlife Conservation is a small but passionate organization managed by a group of international volunteers. The...
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Ultimate Frisbee is an established sport in South Africa and the The South African Flying Disc Association (SAFDA) was established more than 20 years ago. The South African national Ultimate Frisbee team has seen much success playing at...
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Our Wildlife Conservation, Rescue and Community Projects take place over several different properties to help the elephants, monkeys, vultures, eagles to mention some, as well as the children and adults in need in the community. The...
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The project aims to help any injured or orphaned animal, not just monkeys. When ready, the animals are released back into their natural habitat. Another focus and development of the project is to improve animal conservation and government...
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Combine the best of Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and the USA in this dynamic year-long trip! Real Gap Experience specializes in organizing gap year trip for students taking a year off or for those taking a career-break. Many...
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Experience the best of South Africa in this short 2 week trip! Real Gap Experience combines animal conservation efforts and travel throughout South Africa in this unique action packed trip. Get up close and personal with wildlife on the...
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Real Gap Experience takes you on this trilling volunteer and adventure travel experience through South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. Each location offers its own adventures and memories to take back home. Week one will be spent in...
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Q+A Community

Do you have a burning question about taking a gap year abroad in South Africa? We're here to help! Most questions are answered within 24 hours. Here are some example questions:

  • What's the local cost of living like in South Africa?
  • What's the one place I can't miss while traveling in South Africa?
  • What kind of safety concerns should I be aware of in South Africa?

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