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South Africa

office of international programs

Overhead photograph of waterfall

Situated on Africa’s southern tip, South Africa is the continent’s most economically advanced country. Known as the “Rainbow Nation,” its population encompasses a diversity of African, South Asian, and European inhabitants and includes ethnic groups such as Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho, Dutch, and British. Despite its past political oppression and strife, South Africa has undergone significant changes since the early 1990s.

BC Programs - Semester & Academic Year

BC students wishing to study in South Africa have the choice of a semester or academic year either at Rhodes University in Grahamstown or the University of Cape Town, both of which provide access to culturally and historically rich cities, with Cape Town representing a blossoming modern metropolis and Grahamstown blending small town qualities with large cities amenities.

Larry's photo

Speak to an OIP Advisor

In preparation for your study abroad in South Africa, you will work with a Boston College OIP Advisor who specializes in this country and in BC's programs there. Your advisor will help guide you through the application and pre-departure process, as well as act as your main contact with BC while abroad. For students studying abroad in South Africa, your advisor is Larry Pickener.

To find out more information about this program, or to schedule an appointment with Larry, please click here.


Currency in South Africa

The main unit of currency in South Africa is the Rand. There are ATMs in all cities in South Africa, most of which give cash advances against cards belonging to the Cirrus network. Credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa, especially MasterCard and Visa. Nedbank is an official Visa agent, and Standard Bank is a MasterCard agent – both have branches across the country. It is important to remember that rand and dollars are not equal, however, and students should consult a currency conversion calculator.


Students at the Cape of Good Hope

Current Events & News Resources

In preparation for your time in South Africa, you should familiarize yourself with the current events and contemporary issues facing the South African Republic. By knowing about your host country before you arrive, you are making yourself a more informed traveler, a more receptive student and a better prepared individual. It is also helpful to know about your host country so you can pack correctly. Following these and other news sources will be of great value in preparing you for your time abroad.


Elephant in its natural habitat

Language & Customs

Although South Africa has eleven recognized national languages, English and Afrikaans are the most widely spoken of them.

South African customs may be very different than many in the United States. It is best to familiarize yourself with acceptable practices before you arrive in the country. Some tips for successful cultural integration may be found here.


Visa Information

Once Students have received their acceptance letter from Rhodes University or University of Capetown, they should call their nearest South African Consulate [New York: (212)213-4880], or visit to download the visa application form and confirm application instructions. Please be sure to coordinate the process before sending passport and application materials for processing. Obtaining a student visa prior to departure is the responsibility of each student.