If you grew up watching the Discovery Channel, desperately begging your parents to take you to zoos and safaris, or simply have a love for all animals, Botswana is definitely the place for you. Located in Southern Africa, Botswana has one of the most robust economies in Africa and is famous for its wildlife.
Study abroad students can volunteer at National Parks and work for wildlife preservation efforts. Filled with exotic wildlife of every kind, students can visit a Nata bird sanctuary, Gcwihaba Caverns, or even the Mokolodi Nature Reserve – home to giraffes, elephants, zebras, baboons, and so much more!
Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, is a perfect mix of urban and rural life – developed enough for students to safely and comfortably stay while traveling abroad, yet filled with game reserves where you could visit with a tour guide for a two-hour game drive and see baboons, giraffes, wart hogs, zebras, elephants, hippos, and more. Travel to the wild parks and sit at their picnic benches – but be careful of grumpy monkeys and ostriches!
A tourist hub, Kasane is an amazing place to stay as well, located on the south bank of the Chobe river, it is a jumping-off point for the Chobe-Victoria falls. While there, students can go on game drives in the Chobe National Park, or even decide to do self-drive game drives (as long as they have the proper equipment!). River cruises down the Chobe River are also offered by many operators, as well as day trips to Victoria Falls. Students curious about the Namibian culture can even plan a trip with a local tribe to the traditional Namibian village on Imalila Island to observe their ways of life and how they carry out their days.
Maun offers scenic sightseeing and charter flights that carry from 3-10 passengers across the desert so that students can see the wild animals that live there. Destinations include Victoria Falls, the prairies of Lusaka, Windhoek, and Gaborone. At night you could even go to the Trekkers Nightclub, which is especially popular with the locals
Planning Your Trip
Academic Life: Many programs in Botswana teach study abroad students alongside local students on main campuses in major cities (mainly Gaborone, the capital of Botswana). Students can select different classes from the full range of academic departments. Many subjects will take the learning experience outside of classroom boundaries and take field trips to the Gaborone Game Reserve, National Museum, Kolobeng ruins, and Jwaneng diamond mine.
Many students interested in climate change, ecosystem preservation, human dynamics, and international development choose to study abroad in Botswana for the experience and society. The academic and cross-cultural learning experience revolves around field projects – as there is so much natural, environmental, and social issues in Botswana.
Language: All courses are taught in English! However, it’s always useful to know a couple phrases of the local Tswana language, to show that you care and are making an effort to understand their culture.
Useful Phrases to Get You Started
- “Dumela” – Hello
- “Ke a leboga” – Thank you
- “Ke a tlhaloganya / Ga ke thlaganye” – I understand / I don’t understand
- “E ke bokae?” – How much is this?
- “Sala sentle” - Goodbye
Housing: People in Botswana are very friendly and the crime rate is very low. Most students live in residence halls on campus in double rooms. Housing is usually included in the program fee. The University of Botswana campus hosts many university students studying abroad from all countries, and has both single room and apartment style residences on the campus site.
Social Life and Student Culture
Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per-capita GDP of $13,300 in 2008. Diamond mining is a huge part of Botswana economy, and continues to bring in lots of revenue to the country.
The best time to visit the country is during the dry season, otherwise known as the “Safari High Season.”
Adventurous students flock to Botswana for its wildlife and preserved natural sites. Some of Botswana’s main attractions include the Okavango Delta, home to a huge variety of birds and mammals. This is a unique destination because students can see much of the wildlife from a traditional canoe.
Chobe National Park lies in Botswana’s Delta and covers four distinct ecosystems. The Savuti marsh particularly offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, year round. In fact, if you have never seen an elephant before, you will definitely not miss them on a Safari ride here – over 120,000 elephants live in Chobe National Park.
Studying abroad doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg! Many scholarships are available to students who are interested in studying in Botswana.
- Benjamin A. Gilman Critical Need Language Award offers scholarships for students studying unusual languages.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships