From stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, towering mountains, and one of the largest waterfalls in the world, Zimbabwe is considered to be one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. This landlocked country is bordered by Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is a country that is infrequently chosen by students to study abroad in. Roughly 50 American students a year choose to study abroad in Zimbabwe. It’s a challenging country to travel and live in, but the experience students will have if they choose Zimbabwe as a study abroad destination is an incredible one. This unique country has so much to offer in terms of languages, culture, and history.
Zimbabwe is best for students who are interested in wildlife, health care, conservation, and community work.
Photo credit: brian.gratwicke.
Direct enrollment can be a cheaper option than applying through a school in your home country. It may require more work on your end, but you'll gain more flexibility and be able to work alongside local students as a result. If you don’t speak their local language, make sure you enroll in a school that teaches in English or your native language.
With 16 official languages, Zimbabwe is a great option for language enthusiasts. The most widely spoken languages in Zimbabwe are English, Shona, and Ndebele. Students can choose to take an additional language program if it’s not already included in their study abroad program.
Students have a wide variety of study abroad options to choose from. These programs will either be one semester (in the fall and spring, around 4 months, and in the summer and winter, around 4-6 weeks) to one academic year (fall and spring semester).
Some sample programs offered are:
- Health Care
- Social Sciences
- Veterinary Studies
- African Studies
Academic Travel Programs
With Zimbabwe’s diverse landscape and wildlife, the opportunities for travel programs are endless. Students can take a safari in search of the Big Five species of Africa: the lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo. Victoria Falls offers some of the most beautiful views in the entire country.
For students studying wildlife, going on safari in Africa will be a wonderful opportunity to further expand their knowledge of the topic. For students studying social work, they may have the opportunity to travel to local schools or work in the community. For students studying medical and health care, visiting local hospitals in both urban and rural settings is a great opportunity to work alongside local doctors.
Planning Your Trip
Students from the U.S. must apply for a visa to enter Zimbabwe. It may be more convenient to apply for the student visa, which costs around $200 USD. Keep in mind that you'll need a passport with at least 2 blank pages, a return ticket, and adequate funds along with your visa to enter Zimbabwe.
Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe and is one of the most popular cities. It is the bustling financial and commercial center of Zimbabwe.
Bulawayo is the second biggest city in Zimbabwe. It is a vibrant, colonial city that offers parks, museums, and art centers.
Victoria Falls is a town in Zimbabwe that would better suit students looking to get away from the city life. It's also famously home to one of the largest waterfalls in the world.
Most of the time, students can choose to be hosted by a local family or live in dorms or in a shared apartment with other students in their program. As each option have their own set of advantages, it helps to consider what you're looking to get out of your experience when making your decision.
Homestays will be more helpful when it comes to learning about local culture and practicing foreign languages, but you'll have the opportunity to meet other same-aged students in the dormitories.
Zimbabwe uses the U.S. dollar, as well as the Euro and South African rand. Currently, living in Zimbabwe is a bit cheaper compared to neighboring countries such as South Africa. Getting there may be more expensive than other destinations, but staying in Zimbabwe is typically more affordable.
A meal at a restaurant can cost around $7 USD, and water is typically less than fifty cents a bottle. Local transportation is also extremely affordable and will cost you less than a dollar, depending how far you travel. Students can easily budget themselves between $20-30 a day. Keep in mind that any medical expenses, supplies, and toiletries will add to your budget.
Cell Phone Plans
For international travel in Zimbabwe, students can look into unlocking their phone while in their home country and purchasing a SIM card at a low cost while in the country. SIM cards allow students to text and make phone calls while in Zimbabwe. Students can also talk to their cell phone carrier for international plan options, or look into purchasing a cell phone with a Zimbabwe SIM card already installed.
The rainy season is from November to March, and the dry season is from March to October. During the rainy season, pack for rainy weather: think rain boots, a rain jacket, water resistant clothing, and long sleeves.
During the dry season, pack loose-fitting clothes that keep you cool and comfortable in the heat. Clothing that can be layered is the best way to prepare for any type of weather, especially if you’re in Zimbabwe during both the dry and rainy season.
Health & Safety
There are no required vaccinations for Zimbabwe, but students should still be up to date on any routine vaccinations. Talk to your health care provider to determine what's best for you, especially if you plan on traveling to other countries before or after studying abroad in Zimbabwe. For students who recently visited a country where Yellow Fever is prevalent, you may need to show proof of your yellow fever vaccination.
It’s also recommended that you bring any necessary medicines with you, since the medical facilities are not up to Western standards and they may not have certain types of medicine.
Zimbabwe is a relatively safe country for study abroad students. However, you should still be wary of crime and petty theft when traveling in popular tourist destinations, such as Victoria Falls. Take typical safety precautions while traveling; never walk around alone and night, and keep valuables locked in a safe. Making copies of important documents prior to departure is always a good idea.