Have you got a few extra weeks to spare in summer 2015? Don't fill it with more visits to your local waterpark or a dead-end job. Why not take some time to explore one of the world's coolest and most culturally-diverse countries (and brag that you've LIVED in Africa?!).

Despite South Africa often having a stigma attached to it as being a volatile and corrupted country, there is a wealth of culture, friendly (and loyal!) inhabitants, world-famous national parks and beautiful mountainous scenery.

Don't have another boring summer. Plan to spend 2 weeks to 3 months in South Africa studying abroad (or have a double-whammy by finding an internship!) Here's everything you need to know to make it happen.

Photo Credit: South Africa Tourism.

Summer Community Development programs are great ways to learn about the challenges and realities of post-Apartheid South Africa and use their exploration of the city as case studies. It goes to show that living in the city is the best way to experience and understand the area you are studying about. Courses like this are available at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, University of Cape Town and University of Johannesburg through international university programs.

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Biology courses will tremendously benefit anyone looking at working in conservation in the future. Where better to get up close and personal with animals in their natural habitats than at some of the world’s largest national parks! You could spend 25 days at Kruger National Park as part of a program with Broadreach College who will enable you to assist with the protection, research and veterinary aspects of the conservation of Africa’s wildlife.

A Few Quick Packing Tips

Like the study programs above, many will involve spending a lot of time outdoors, and even in the wild, so be sure to pack comfortable and practical clothing.

The sun is particularly deceiving south of the equator. Even though it may not be summer, if the sun is out it’s likely to harm your skin, so make sure that you pack sun cream!

South Africa is lucky enough to have a fairly warm climate year-round. Although winter (June, July & August) in the southern part of the country and the Western Cape is cooler than the north, you are very unlikely to experience freezing temperatures, snow or heavy rainfall.

Game viewing is best in spring season, so you may be lucky enough to experience this at its best if your conservation program filters into late August/early September - or if you decide to go on a safari during some time off.

Important Holidays/Festivals/Events

Summertime is sweet in this southern tip of the African continent. By studying here during this time of year, you'll have the opportunity to experience some pretty unique cultural events.

Make More Friends South Africa school holidays during the summer months run from about the third week in July to the second week in August. That means you'll be able to take advantage of free time to make more South African friends that are university students!

Summer Art Festivals Vryfees is an arts festival in Bloemfontein (between Johannesburg and Cape Town) showcasing live music performances, stage productions, workshops and an abundance of market stalls selling local arts and crafts. Don't miss out on this awesome summer event! It has a very chilled vibe and is a not for profit organization event. It very much inspires a community atmosphere.

Summer Music Festivals The ‘Standard Bank’, or Joy of Jazz, is Johannesburg’s biggest annual jazz festival that takes place each August. It features a wide range of musical talent and styles with jazz at the heart of it all. It's amazing to see the stronghold these bluesy sounds have in the local culture.

Contributed by Leila Wright


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