Study in South Africa: Language & Culture

It would be impossible to describe a nation like South Africa with a single word, since the country is a multicultural mix not easily met, with influences from various countries, numerous official languages and religions.

This is the reason why it is difficult to describe the nation as a whole, as it consists of different cultural groups. The country nowadays is still recovering from the Apartheid movement, making efforts to become a more united nation against racial segregation. 

About 80% of the country's population is ethnically black African. Almost 9% are considered colored (a mix of white and African or white and Asian), while nearly 8% are white and about 2% are of Indian descent.

A major characteristic of South African culture is the closeness to nature and wildlife. In South Africa you can find many unique and endangered species and come across lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys or zebras! It is an excellent place to try the famous South African safari and come closer to the magnificent nature. 

Did you know that the oldest art objects in the world were discovered in a South African cave around 75,000 years ago? South Africa should not be perceived as a nation well-known only for its wildlife and the Apartheid-related past, but as an exciting culture to explore for its rich history and culture.

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South Africa has a rich tradition of oral poetry and music. Many black musicians who used to sing in Afrikaans or English during Apartheid, begun to sing in traditional African languages and gradually developed a new music style called Kwaito. More to that, South Africa has a long history in jazz music as well. 

South Africans love sports and if you like sports as well, then you are in the right place! Popular sports in South Africa include primarily football, rugby, and cricket, but as a student you will have the opportunity to explore the stunning landscapes through swimming and surfing at the Indian ocean! 

South African Cuisine

The South African cuisine reflects a very diverse culinary trip to various tastes, thanks to the different communities of people living in the country. More and more influences were added to the local cuisine during the British and Dutch colonization by the 17th century.

All this ended up in a unique fusion and one can say that contemporary South African cuisine is a mix of its rich pre-colonial food culture with additions from Dutch, French, Indian and Malaysian flavors and aromas. 

What characterizes contemporary South African cuisine? The bond to nature and mother earth, thanks to the indigenous people that firstly acknowledged the power of ingredients like edible food plants like rooibos.

The South African cuisine is mostly meat and vegetable based. Famous dishes include biltong, a dried South African meat dish, bobotie, an alternative of shepherd’s pie or boerewors, a seasoned sausage dish. If you want to take your palette on a trip to various cultures, you should definitely try the South African traditional cuisine!

South Africa's Languages

There is no surprise that South African culture is called the ‘’Rainbow Nation’’ or the nation of diversity, a fact that is reflected in the 11 official languages that exist in the country. There is not a single South African language. Instead, the country has the following official languages: English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Pedi, Swati, Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. 

No worries, you don’t need any of them (except English!) in order to study at any level to South African universities. Most South Africans can speak more than one language and are at least bilingual, as there are at least 35 more additional indigenous languages in the country. However, after English that is used as a primary language, the most commonly spoken languages are Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans, which is similar to Dutch. 

Study in South Africa - Overview

Over 45,000 international students choose South Africa as their study abroad destination every year. Click here to learn why.

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Student Visas

If you are not a South African citizen, then you will need a visa for studies in South Africa. Learn more about the student visa process, and what you need to enter the country, depending on your citizen status.

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Housing & Living Costs

Housing and cost of living in South Africa are relatively cheap, especially when compared with other countries in Europe. You can choose to either live in a private or shared student accommodation.

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Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for degree programs in South Africa vary and is based on a credit system charge, but education for international students is still lower than in many other European countries.

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Education System

Want to learn about how the higher education system works in South Africa? Both public and private universities offer programs in English language and focus on academic excellence.

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Application Process

Entry requirements in South Africa vary from university to university. Here you can find more information about the application process for people from around the world.

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Last update: 29 Jun 2021


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