Home South Africa Semester Program Spotlight: Study Abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Semester Program Spotlight: Study Abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa

by AIFS Abroad
Scenes from Stellenbosch, South Africa

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by AIFS Abroad

Interested in an adventure-packed study abroad experience? Spend a semester in Stellenbosch, South Africa! Located in the Western Cape, this university town is surrounded by vineyards and lush mountains. You can explore history, culture, and nature here in abundance, from swimming with penguins at Boulders Beach to reflecting on the country’s past on Robben Island. 

Here’s more about what it’s like to study abroad in South Africa with AIFS during the fall or spring semester:   

Academics in Stellenbosch 

Students studying abroad in Stellenbosch can choose from three dynamic program options: the Full Curriculum Program, the General Education Program, and the Global Service Learning Program (stay tuned to learn more about these incredible programs!). 

These programs offer courses that span a wide variety of subjects, including: 

  • Business: economics, entrepreneurship, information systems, logistics, and more. 
  • Humanities and Liberal Arts: philosophy, sociology, political science, history, visual arts, Afrikaans, IsiXhosa, HIV, psychology, anthropology, theology and more. 
  • Agricultural Sciences: forestry, ecology, biodiversity, genetics, soil science, animal nutrition, and more. 
  • Sciences: chemistry, biology, physics, biometry, and more. 
AIFS Abroad students in South Africa during their semester overseas

Program Option 1: Full Curriculum Program 

Earn up to 15 semester credits studying alongside South African and other international students. You can choose to take any course offered by Stellenbosch University, as long as you meet the prerequisites. Stellenbosch University also offers courses with a focus on South African history and culture to help international students gain a deeper understanding of their host country. 

Program Option 2: General Education Program 

The courses in this program were specifically designed by Stellenbosch University to help introduce international students to South African history, culture and politics. Choose up to 5 courses for a total of 15 semester credits. Typical course options include: “An Overview of South African History”, “Politics and Cultural Change in Contemporary South Africa”, “Gender and Identity in Africa”, “Understanding HIV in South Africa” and “Afrikaans for Beginners”. 

📣 “[The highlight of my academic program was] my beginner’s Afrikaans course. All of the students were from different countries, but each of us left our native tongue at the door and stumbled through learning a new language. I learned far more than I expected, and I also met some of my closest friends. All of us were out of our comfort zone, but it became a space where we learned together and encouraged one another.”

– Sarah V., AIFS in Stellenbosch alum

Program Option 3: Global Service Learning Program 

Students take a Global Service Learning course comprised of 90 hours classroom and 45 hours on-site community engagement in a local primary school. This course challenges students to self-reflect and engage in modern global issues in a local context, and shows how community engagement can drive social impact. Students also choose two or three courses from the Full Curriculum Program or the General Education Program to earn up to 15 semester credits. 

📣 “I think that this volunteer experience was the highlight of my time abroad because it made me realize the simplicity of what it means to give time to others.”

– Anna S., AIFS in Stellenbosch alum
Why I Loved Studying Abroad in South Africa | AIFS Study Abroad

Life in Stellenbosch: On Campus 

We need to talk about the housing in Stellenbosch. If you’re someone that really likes having their own space, here’s some amazing news: Your program fee includes your own room and en-suite bathroom. 

The housing campus at Stellenbosch University features state-of-the-art security and is located just a short walk from the main campus. AIFS Abroad students stay in Concordia, which houses both South African students and fellow international students from all over the world. 

The Stellenbosch University campus truly has everything you need – including gyms, pools, a botanical garden and a sprawling underground library. The Student Center (affectionately known as The Neelsie) is a one-stop shop and is home to a post office, bank, cafeterias, movie theater and more. 

Stellenbosch University campus in South Africa
Stellenbosch University

Excursions and Cultural Activities 

One of the highlights of studying abroad in Stellenbosch is that your program includes a 6-day journey along South Africa’s Garden Route. This excursion happens during a school break, so you can really focus on being present and enjoying yourself. You’ll visit places like the Cango Caves, an ostrich farm, a township in Knysna, Monkeyland and Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. 

Those who are extra adventurous have the option to participate in activities like river ravine kloofing, horseback riding, treetop ziplining and sea kayaking for an extra fee.  

Ashley, an AIFS in Stellenbosch alum, shows us the first few days of her excursion on the Garden Route (2018)

You’ll also take take a day trip to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Boulders Beach (famously home to over 3,000 African Penguins).  

Your program fee also includes a variety of cultural and social activities. Typical activities include:  

  • Welcome and farewell group dinners 
  • Vineyard tour 
  • Visit to Table Mountain 
  • Hiking 
  • Attend a sporting event and a local festival (music or food) 

Plus, Stellenbosch University organizes additional activities for international students throughout the semester. 

AIFS Study Abroad students experiencing the culture of wine in Stellenbosch

Volunteer Opportunities 

AIFS Abroad student volunteering with youth in South Africa
AIFS Abroad students volunteering in South Africa

Stellenbosch University offers a 20-hour, non-credit bearing Volunteerism and Community Engagement (VCE) Program to expand your engagement with Stellenbosch during your semester abroad. Spend 10 weeks volunteering at a local school within the wine farms, designing an after-school activities program alongside VCE staff, teachers and students.  

Those who study abroad in Stellenbosch during their spring semester have the unique opportunity to volunteer with the Cape Town Carnival. Students can volunteer with a non-profit organization to help young people prepare for and take part in this celebration of African creativity and diversity. 

What’s it like studying abroad in South Africa? Hear from our alumni: 

📣 “I had no idea what to expect from Stellenbosch and AIFS, but the program went far above anything I could imagine.” – Allison Pomeroy, AIFS in Stellenbosch alum

📣 “I share pictures and anecdotes with family and friends, knowing that they can’t possibly know how it felt to see a township for the first time, wake up to the beauty of the Stellenbosch Mountains every morning, or feel at home half way around the world.” – Katherine S., AIFS in Stellenbosch alum

Spend your semester exploring Stellenbosch

Click below and learn more about AIFS Abroad in Stellenbosch program options, courses, housing and more!  

Semester Program Spotlight: Study Abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa with AIFS Abroad
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