Your semester abroad in Africa – things to bear in mind

Since the foundation of institutions of higher learning, universities and colleges have offered students the option of exploring the world not only through their studies, but through their very eyes.

Studying abroad is now very common among students. With more scholarships and grants available for low income students, a lot more students have the luxury of studying abroad. Most usually choose to go to media-attentive destinations, such as Western Europe, the Mediterranean and Australia.

For students who yearn for the excitement of culture shock and the possibility of adventure, Africa is ripe for the traveling. As the situation in Africa eased over the past few years, more programs are becoming available for students who wish to study in the best schools in the Southern Hemisphere.

Of course, there are a few factors to consider before jumping on a plane to Johannesburg.


A semester abroad in Africa is favorably less expensive than, say, a semester in Paris or Milan. Meal plans, board and transportation costs are far below the average. However, what could cost you is the airfare and the abroad health insurance.

This is why it’s recommended for students to save money before embarking to Africa and carefully budget all expenses during the semester.

Since you may not know specifically what expenses you’ll take on, it’s best to do a ballpark estimate. If you need financial advice, several schools have study abroad counselors to help guide students through this process.

Many students choose to use credit cards to partially pay for their semester abroad if scholarship funds don’t suffice. Be sure to search for credit card offer comparisons sites that allow you to find low interest fees.

Scholarships and Grants

Be very vigilant when it comes to applying for scholarships and grants for studies abroad. Before you know it, the deadline can slip you by and you’ll end up paying a lot more than expected.

Be sure to research with your school what scholarships are specific to you (demographically-speaking) or your program.

Scholarships like the Gilman International Scholarship gives students lump sums to study in different colleges around the world. Since it’s funded by government agencies, the scholarship gives priority to students that wish to study in places like Africa or South America.


Health insurance is a must when you travel abroad! Students never know what can happen during their stay at their host college, but you’ll want to be prepared.

In certain places, like Africa, students are required to receive vaccinations for their trips, lowering their risk to contracting local diseases.

Choosing a Campus (Program)

There are many college programs available in Africa – some specialize in international relations, some in anthropological studies and some in zoology and wildlife conservation.

There are several sites that allow students to search for their programs of interest based on regions. If a student’s college doesn’t offer a certain program, they’ll usually allow the student to find a program they like from another school and, if approved by their home college, the school will be able to qualify for college credit and financial aid.


Although room and board are cheap in most schools in Africa, airfare isn’t. A big chunk of the money received from scholarships or grants will go to paying for your airline ticket.

Since airfare isn’t included with the program, it’s usually best for students to bargain hunt when it comes to buying a boarding pass. Don’t limit yourself to one airline!

A semester abroad could be life changing! A semester abroad in Africa will completely change your perception of the world as you immerse yourself in a different culture and way of life! It’s definitely worth it!

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