Pre-departure tips

The best preparation before your semester abroad is to research South Africa: read up on the history, politics, current events (Mail and Guardian provides good press coverage.), theatre, music and natural resources as well as watch movies and read novels. Communicate with US students from your home university who have studied at UCT for invaluable advice on Cape Town and the university. Read the materials on the study abroad programmes provided by your home university as well as by UCT & keep an open mind!

Research & Reading

Some of our recommendations:



First Semester: You arrive in summer and will also experience autumn and winter. Temperatures will range from 35 to 5 Celsius.

Second Semester: You will arrive during a wet mid-winter and experience spring. Temperatures will range from 5 to 30 Celsius.

Pack a range of clothes that you can layer. Bear in mind that most houses in South Africa do not have air-con. Hiking boots and a sleeping bag will be useful if you plan to travel.

Medications & prescriptions

Bring these with you. Pharmacies are plentiful and close by should you need over- the- counter medicine and prescription medication from a doctor here.Bring existing medication in its original container and for the duration of the semester as well as  a letter from your doctor. Check the websites of your home universities for more detailed guidelines.


Laptops, phones, cameras. Adaptors can be purchased at duty free shops in airports and in shops in Cape Town.


  • A valid passport (check on expiry date)
  • Letter of acceptance from UCT
  • Study visa
  • Proof of medical insurance
  • International driver’s license should you intend driving in South Africa.

Cape Town is a great shopping destination for anything from basics to international brands.