AIFS Study Abroad in South Africa: Semester or Academic Year

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About

Spend a semester or year in the captivating city of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Earn up to 15 credits through a variety of courses at the University of Stellenbosch. Courses are taught in English.

AIFS offers a traditional academic program, allowing students to choose from Stellenbosch University’s full course catalog which cover a broad range of subjects.

Live in the modern and well-appointed University Student Residence, with laundry facilities and internet included. Enjoy cultural and social activities such as sporting events, beach excursions, trips to local craft and food markets, and hiking trips. AIFS includes a 6-day trip along the famous Garden Route, and day trips to Cape Town and Robben Island, the Cape of Good Hope, and Table Mountain. Optional excursions include the Cederberg Mountains, and Addo Elephant Park and Breede River.

Highlights
  • 6-day Garden Route Tour
  • Day trip to Cape Town and Robben Island
  • Day trip to Cape of Good Hope and Boulders Beach

Questions & Answers

When I went I used Facebook to meet up with the others who were in my program. If they search "South Africa Spring 2016" into Facebook they will probably find their program, or another program around them and can join the group there. The cost of living there was very cheap when I was there a few years ago when $1 was equal to about 7 rand. Right now $1 is almost 15 rand so it is probably even...

Reviews

99%
based on 20 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 8.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 20
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Molly
10/10

Stellenbosch, South Africa

My experience in Stellenbosch, South Africa with AIFS was one of the most influential moments of my life so far. My time there was a really pivotal moment in both my personal life and career plans. There were many opportunities for myself and others to learn about and experience the rich culture. South Africa has eleven national languages, so it was so different and great to meet people who spoke completely different languages from town to town. Living there, we were able to experience the every day lives of South Africans and feel extremely welcome there. We also experienced the diversity that is present in an individual town and from town to town across the country. It was extremely important to me to be able to travel to different parts of the country and learn about their culture. This experience allowed me to be immersed in their culture and be challenged. It allowed me to grow as an individual and I believe that it presented me with a purpose in life that I plan to pursue.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Maya
10/10

It's the Little Things

After I began to settle into my new surroundings at Stellenbosh (or as the locals call it "Stellies") I began to start searching for a club or an activity to join to get more involved on campus. I decided to join the surfing club and I am so glad that I did. We had lessons every Thursday evening for about a month and they provided us with surf boards and wet suits. I live in Rhode Island so water sports are almost second nature to me, this does not mean I am any good at surfing but I like to think I have gained some experience now looking back at it. All the students piled in a bus and we drove about 20 minutes to strand beach. The scenery was gorgeous with mountains on either side. We usually finished up right as the sun begun to set and it made for the most beautiful, perfect ending to the day. I still remember catching some baby waves getting up with this cheesy grin on my face and everything just became so surreal to me how fortunate and greatful I am for such an amazing opportunity to study in South Africa.

How can this program be improved?
If I could improve this program I would make for more opportunities for the international students to interact with the local students. After living and traveling with only other Americans in my program I think I would of been more immerged in the culture if I was able to live or learn with the local students.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Catherine
10/10

the most magical country in the world

I chose to go to South Africa after always dreaming to make it to Africa in my lifetime. Now I am so in love with that country and wish I could share it with all of my family and friends. The culture is awesome, it's literally the most beautiful place in the world, there are tons of things to do in Stellenbosch and you are just a short train ride from Cape Town for weekend trips. If you love adventure there is plenty of hiking around and different trips offered from Cape Town throughout the country. I was there in the summer and it only rained maybe 5 times in the entire 6 months I was there. The accommodation was awesome and was even better than back in the states (I had my own bathroom and a wonderful cleaning lady). Mama H provides you with nothing but the best support, and is there for any question or qualm you may have about anything. You can drink the tap water which I was surprised about and there is no danger of malaria or any other diseases unless you travel. Stellenbosch and Cape Town are very safe as long as you practice the same safety measures that you would if you would visit a strange place or a big city at home.

How can this program be improved?
I honestly never had any issues with my program or wished it to be anything else than what it was.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lexi
10/10

Why Go Anywhere Else?

South Africa was the most incredible experience of my life! The people are amazing, the food is great (best sushi), the trips allow you to do everything from jumping off the worlds highest bungee bridge to seeing the big 5 up close, and these are just the trips included in the program. At the end of the semester a number of us were able to travel with our closest friends! Five friends and I went backpacking and drove from South Africa to Botswana to camp on the Okacango Delta to Zambia to see Victoria Falls and back! In South Africa you'll get to experience the best wine tasting and student life as well as daily trips to the beach, hiking, shark cage diving, paragliding, shopping, and so much more! You'll make life long friends and you may end up going back after graduation like myself! Trust me, you do not want to miss out on this!

How can this program be improved?
Cheaper flight! Haha :)
Yes, I recommend
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kirstenewee
10/10

Best Experience of My Life!

This was one of the best experiences of my life! I got outside of my comfort zone, experienced new people and places, and met life long friends! I would not trade this experience for anything in the world!

How can this program be improved?
More chances to meet local students
Yes, I recommend
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Daniela
10/10

The best experience of my life!

The AIFS Study Abroad program in Stellenbosch was the best decision I've ever made! I had a wonderful time, made great friends, and created so many memories. South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth and I can't wait until the day I can go back. The program coordinators and directors were great and really helpful during my stay. All of the staff was wonderful and so easy to get along with! The living situation works out perfectly too and allows you to make close relationships with those you are living with, but also have your own space. Stellenbosch is an amazing University and there are so many ways to get involved in regular student life while you are there. Overall, I wouldn't trade my experience for anything, I would only do it all over again!

How can this program be improved?
I wish that after exams there were only 2 weeks left until returning home just because the weather is getting colder and traveling for so long is expensive.
Yes, I recommend
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Mary
10/10

My Experience in Stellenbosch

My experience in the Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement program at the University of Stellenbosch was truly life-changing. Our classes were informative and interesting, and our time spent in the community was invaluable. We really came together as a group and formed lifelong friendships.

How can this program be improved?
The residence in which we stayed was broken into while we were staying there, and some of the students' belongings were stolen. Heightened security may be something to consider.
Yes, I recommend
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samanthatphoto
9/10

Home Away from Home

My time in South Africa meant so much to me. It may not be easy to tell from an outsiders view, but I have changed in so many ways. I went through a very emotional time and came out a whole new, better person. I learned to live in the moment and although I did this before, I now appreciate things so much more. I would wake up every morning with a smile on my face after looking out my window and seeing the fantastic mountains. I felt so blessed to be in such a beautiful place; never have I ever felt so calm and happy, just being. It felt like home just as much as my home in the States does, if not more. I have already convinced my mom through photographs that when I graduate in a year we are moving back there. I loved my time there and I know it will never be the same because half of it was the people who made it what it was. But in general, the people there are just so much more friendly. I still feel like calling South Africa home even though I am no longer there and I can't wait to come back.

How can this program be improved?
Try to get an internship while abroad!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jalen
10/10

An adventure/learning experience of a lifetime!

Words can't really describe the experience I had in Stellenbosch. I can say it was by far the greatest time I've had in my life! If I could do it all over again, I would with no hesitation. From the night-life to the shark cage diving I wouldn't change a thing. I learned so much about South Africa's history that I feel I could talk about it for days. Just a heads up... You might not want to leave!

How can this program be improved?
There's nothing that I would change.
Yes, I recommend
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Julia
10/10

Amazing place to learn and serve others

Stellenbosch University is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I really loved getting to spend time with Local South Africans and other international students from around the world. I fell in love with South Africa so much, that when I had the chance to volunteer there after graduation I lived there for two years and only returned in February 2012. There is such a diverse and active student body and something for everyone. I was able to find a great church home, have fun visiting the cities and made friends that I still am close to that I was there with in 2008. The course work was challenging, but was given out in such a way that there was still a time to have fun and explore. You really get out of this program what you put into it. I felt very safe, was able to stay in touch with family and friends easily with internet access in the rooms and loved the beautiful view of the mountains. The housing was nicer than most universities I have been to in the U.S. You always have your own room, and often your own bathroom/shower. It is easy to get to stores (can walk or get a bike if you want) and there are great food options on campus. I was in the Service Learning Community Development program and got to volunteer out in a village a couple of days a week. This was an experience that was so special to me and was very helpful when I worked in another village the last two years doing mission work and social work with the Lutheran Church. My time in Stellenbosch was an overall great experience and I would highly recommend going here if you still want some of the comforts of home, and a place where you can go on countless adventures!

Yes, I recommend
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ccolleton
10/10

Amazing Experience

Studying abroad in Stellenbosch was probably the best experience of my life so far. I learned a lot about South Africa and other African countries, as well as about myself. The opportunities provided by AIFS to travel were awesome, and our Resident Director Mama H was always there for us while still letting us figure things out for ourselves. I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to see things that I never thought I would. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to study abroad.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
athorne7
10/10

Highly Recommend Stellenbosch Program

Hestea de Wet, or Mama H as her American students call her, is the AIFS program advisor. She is there from the moment you get off the plane to when you return to the airport to come back to the States. She is the stabilizing force in a time when and place where it is easy to get overwhelmed.

My favorite excursion was probably the Cederberg Mountain trip. This trip happens about a week and a half after you arrive in Stellenbosch. It's a weekend to get away with Mama H and the other international students...and to conquer your fears if you're afraid of heights! Mama H cooks all the meals and takes you to the top of the Cederberg Mountains. Getting to the top of the Cederberg Mountains was an incredible experience I'll never forget. You also have an opportunity to do a wine tasting there. I would highly recommend this optional excursion. The Garden Route spring break trip, included in the program fee, is awesome as well. You also get time at the end of the semester (I had just about 3 and half weeks) to do your own traveling or to spend time in Stellenbosch.

Expect to do a lot of walking! Stellenbosch is a beautiful town...lots of restaurants and wineries. The campus is beautiful and after a few weeks you'll hardly notice how much walking you do. In terms of housing, you live on campus in either Academia or Concordia. You will share a room with AIFS students but live with international students from all over the world. Some South Africans do live in Academia but don't expect to naturally interact with them. If you make an effort to meet and get to know the South African students, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Stellenbosch is a safe area. Of course, that's not to say that bad things can't happen; just like with anywhere else, don't put yourself in a dangerous situation.

As far as classes go, I did the LSCE program and took South African History and HIV/AIDS in South Africa. I would not recommend the South African History class but the HIV/AIDS class was very informative and the LSCE program was probably the most rewarding experience I had during my time abroad.

I would highly recommend this program!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
BVarga
10/10

CHOOSE SA!!!!

AIFS Stellenbosch program was AMAZING! Not only is SOuth Africa the coolest place to study, AIFS does an excellent job providing opportunities for students to explore the place! Spring Break consists of a roadtrip along the Garden Route with many stops in between! One could bungee jump from the highest point in the world, pet elephants and cheetahs and stay in amazing beach hostels- this was one spring break trip for AIFS students to remember! There was also a fun wine festival and many day trips to cool locations in the western cape!
There were two places for students to live, one was in Academia and the other Concordia. I lived in academia and would highly recommend it! It was a few americans but mostly South African students! I met a ton of South African students this way. Concordia was the International housing so there were not as many locals living there, but you did get your own room and bathroom. In academia it was two bedrooms, one bathroom. So it depends on what kind of experience you want to have!
Stellenbosch itself is Beautiful !! The town is quaint and small but you are still close enough to get to Capetown (30 mins). It is a bit different there, they stop selling alcohol in stores after 5 and do not sell it on Sundays. They drive on the other side of the road, so look both ways! There are a lot of poor people in SA and very rich. You will see how different places look from eachother, even if it is just on the other side of the road. Culturally SA is very different from the USA and you will experience that. Coming out of Apartheid in 1994, you can still visibly experience effects of this- which sometimes I found myself quite shocked and uncomfortable. The nightlife here ROCKED! Where you live is walking distance to many bars by 15 mins! After rugby matches and Wednesdays were the greatest times to go out!
I would highly recommend getting involved in Sports or Clubs. Their Rugby team rocks and they have awesome crazy games! They also have a Wine society which was fun as well. Stellenbosch and the surronding area is wine country. The club will take you to different wineries in the area and also give lessons about wine tastings and wine making! Good for beginners!
The classes were fun as well. The professors were interesting and were very insightful. You had the chance to choose from classes that were open to all university students. And some of these classes were mixed with English and Africaans speaking lectures (but fear not, english textbooks). Or you could chose the International classes with International students strictly taught in english.
There were also many opportunities to volunteer which was nice. I did an after school program at Kayamandi and would highly recommend that if you do this AIFS program, you volunteer! You have plenty of time and it helps you get to know the locals!
I know safety is a big concern in South Africa, but I felt safe. Stellenbosch is a safe place and I had no problems. With that being said, I do know people that have had problems. You just need to be cautious and use common sense. Dont walk alone at night, have your Ipod or cellphone out and about, watch your stuff, etc.
AIFS was a great program to experience my semester through. Hestea was the director and does an AMAZING FABULOUS AWESOME job. She cared so much about us, loves her country and wanted to share it with us! She did a great job being there when you had questions but left us to be independent and free!
South Africa changed my life! I love it there! I AM going back! I would recommend this program to ANYONE who is willing to have a life changing experience!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Anna
9/10

Not What You'd Expect in Africa!

I can honestly say that my semester in Stellenbosch was not what I expected, but it was never a let-down! Stellenbosch is a very beautiful, clean city that seems almost European. You are a quick train ride away from Cape Town, the new #1 tourist destination in the world. Stellenbosch University is a modern school with all the facilities an American university would have. If you are looking for the "African" experience, you will need to travel outside of Stellenbosch. That said, through both service and travel you will have the chance to experience many different walks of life in South Africa. Studying in Stellenbosch challenged my own ideas about diversity, privilege, identity, and what I thought I knew about Africa. If you want to enrich your Stellenbosch experience, I definitely recommend the Service Learning program as well! Please come to Stellenbosch with an open mind and get ready to have a semester like no other!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
M.
10/10

Amazing Experience

Arriving in South Africa, it wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I pictured Africa. Yet, the experience was one that I would never take back. The history of the country is fascinating and the culture is extremely rich. There is something for everyone in South Africa- mountains, deserts, grasslands, bush, wetlands, etc. It is home to beautiful animals and is probably one of the most beautiful countries that I have ever been to. I would recommend this program to anyone.

Yes, I recommend

About AIFS Study Abroad

AIFS is a leading provider of study abroad programs. Since 1964, more than 1.5 million students have traveled abroad with AIFS. Comprehensive program fees make it convenient for students to study abroad and experience all that the world has to offer....