A short ways inland from Cape Town lies the wine-growing region of Stellenbosch, South Africa. It's peaceful, low-key, and as a study abroad student, one of the cities you have to choose from when studying in South Africa.
Though the region is most well known for its wine growing and agriculture, it's also home to Stellenbosch University, a picturesque university setting where international students can spend a semester or year studying.
Stellenbosch is a relatively small town, so you’ll probably get through the city’s attractions in your first month or so. However, its culture and student life is more than enough to keep you enamored with the city, and of course, there are other cities in South Africa close by as well.
Stellenbosch Museum – The obligatory museum visit, Stellenbosch Village Museum, is made of four adjoining houses, each with a different historical emphasis. The architecture will vary from house to house depending on the time period the house is emphasizing.
The Powder House – Another historical buildings, the Powder House provided the powder, lead and flint for the citizens of Stellenbosch. Fun fact: During the early 1700s, 150 pounds of gunpowder, 100 pounds of lead bullets and 300 flintlock stones were given annually to the citizen army. The Powder House was built well away from the main town in the case of explosion.
Madiba Friendly Township Tours – If you want the insider look into Stellenbosch, then this tour is for you. Madiba, the tour guide of Kayamandi (in the north-west of Stellenbosch) and extremely nice man, shows you around Kayamandi through its narrowest, lesser known paths, introduces you to locals and shows you the charity projects he’s involved in. Overall, this is one of the coolest experiences you can have here, and you really get to see Stellenbosch from the local’s perspective!
Cape Winelands – What this region and Stellenbosch are known for, the Cape Winelands offers the amazing landscape South Africa is known for. This is also a great chance to try to world-renowned wine as tours and tastings are offered almost everyday.
Culture Shock and Support
Once you become certain about your study abroad trip, the next obstacle is culture shock. Stellenbosch is a long flight away from America, so you can be certain to experience a new culture, societal norms and overall atmosphere. After you adjust to all of these things, you will be extremely glad you embraced a new culture by the end of your trip. However, the beginning can be a bit overwhelming, and change is always scary. So, be sure to pick a problem that caters to American students, so that you can be well informed of the cultural differences and avoid making a faux pas.
However, remember that you have your fellow students! If you’re missing the long hours of studying and the obnoxiously loud people back in the US, well, then you’re weird. On a more serious note, talk to your fellow peers! If you’re experiencing some homesickness, there is every chance that they are as well. Don’t be embarrassed if you need to talk to someone about home, it is completely normal and who knows, you may become even closer friends!
Helpful Hints/Insider Tips
Stellenbosch is a relatively small city, so you can traverse the whole of the city on foot without much problem. If you want to travel faster, the Tourism Bureau offers bikes for rental. Street signs are absent in Stellenbosch; the street names are on the edges of sidewalks.
Stellenbosch is on the same currency as the rest of South Africa, the Rand. 10 Rand equals 1 dollar, though the prices are the same (10 Rand will buy you the same things as a dollar). Stellenbosch, and the rest of South Africa, is not as cheap as the rest of Africa, but it’s still quite easy to get by on a student’s budget, so you don’t have to worry too much about money. ATMs can be found all over the city, so you won’t have a problem drawing money.
Ahh money. A student budget is rather difficult to get around a new city with, so here are a few scholarships to help you out!
- Fulbright offers a number of scholarships for those studying abroad in South Africa.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships