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:

  • Ten Great South African Movies by David Bristow
  • Necktie Youth“, a new in-your-face movie by Sibs Shongwe-La Mer which explores the post-apartheid generation.
  • Ayanda” best African Movie 2015
  • South African books:
    • The President’s Keepers, Jacques Pauw
    • Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
    • As by Fire, Jonathan Jansen ( Unrest in South African Universities)
    • The Cape Town Book, Nechama Brodie
    • The Fall of the ANC continues, What Next, Prince Mashele
    • Always Another Country, Sisonke Msimang
    • Remember Kwezi, Redi Tjhabi
    • Disgrace” by J.M.Coetzee (Nobel Prize Winner and ex-staff member at UCT)
    • Country of my Skull Antjie Krog

Packing

Clothes

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.

Electronics

Bring an old, cheap phone if you have one as well as your current phone. As long as you can make and receive calls, have whatsapp and the Uber app, it’s less likely to be stolen. Laptops, phones, cameras. Adaptors can be purchased at duty free shops in airports and in shops in Cape Town.

Your landlords do not provide insurance for loss of personal items like a phones, lap-tops and cameras. It would be wise to see that these items are covered by an insurance through your home university or by a personal policy should these be lost or stolen.

Documents

  • 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.