One of the smallest and most densely populated countries in Africa, Rwanda has risen from a recent history of political turmoil to become a country with rising prospects in the Great Lakes region. While many international students may recall the mass violence which occurred in the 1990’s in Rwanda, few will ever get a chance to experience the thriving culture, music, and arts which continues to define everyday life for the majority of its citizens. The opportunity to study abroad in Rwanda firsthand is a chance to reaffirm this beautiful country in an entirely new light.
Rwanda is a small, mountainous nation which is located in the African Great Lakes region near the heart of the continent. Bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, roughly 11 million people live throughout the country. Rwanda lays in a tropical climate zone and is also home to a significant biodiversity of endemic species; most notably the mountain gorilla, of which it is home to nearly one-third of the world’s remaining population.
Kigali, the country’s capital and largest city, is the single most popular destination where to study abroad in Rwanda. Kigali has been the economic, political, and cultural main vein of Rwanda ever since the country declared independence from Britain in 1962. Today it is home to over 1 million citizens and several major universities, museums, and other cultural institutions, making it the country’s undeniable center of activity.
As a majority of the population remains spread out across the countryside, the nation’s many rural areas are also popular destinations where to study abroad in Rwanda. Life as a student will be much different between Rwanda’s urban and rural environments, but both can provide unique insight into different aspects of the country’s national character.
Subjects & Courses
While the country is home to several institutions of higher learning, as an international student it is more common to study abroad in Rwanda as part of a custom-tailored study abroad program. You may end up taking classes at a local university, but full enrollment is fairly rare. More commonly you will wind up enrolling in courses at a smaller international or satellite school, taught by local faculty.
Some common subject areas pursued by students who study abroad in Rwanda include African studies, conflict studies, sustainable development, anthropology, and the arts. Many courses that are offered for study abroad programs in Rwanda will be specifically geared toward foreign students, thereby including an introductory context to the country’s history and culture.
Some study abroad programs in Rwanda will also enable you to travel to other neighboring countries such as Tanzania and Uganda as part of the course structure, giving you a larger regional context to learn from during your studies abroad. Many students choose to study abroad in Rwanda over the summer term so as not to discontinue their degree track back home, but enrolling for a fall or spring semester are also possible options.
Scholarships & Costs
Rwanda is one of the world’s least developed countries, so most everyday costs of living will remain relatively low for international students. Still the fees for a study abroad program in Rwanda, which include factors such as tuition, transportation, housing, and more, can add up to be a considerable expense. Talk with your home university about rolling over tuition, and also check out our Scholarship Directory for information about financial aid opportunities to study abroad in Rwanda.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays are perhaps the most popular form of accommodation while you study abroad in Rwanda, providing international students the rare opportunity to immerse themselves fully within local communities. Other group living situations are also often available, depending on the location of your study abroad program. Wherever you end up, expect to be made comfortable, but do not expect an excessive degree of luxury; commodities such as hot water, internet connection, and air conditioning, for example, may not always be available.
What type of visa you will need to study abroad in Rwanda depends primarily on your home country and the duration of your stay. Students from some countries will be able to obtain their visa upon arrival, while others will have to apply in advance. For more information regarding your individual circumstances, you can check out our Rwandan Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Demystification. Having learned about the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide some decades ago, you may have formed some preconceived notions about the country already. Studying abroad in Rwanda will establish why never to judge a book by its cover.
Vibrant Culture. Music, dance, and the arts are all essential parts of local life in Rwanda. Get ready for a fun immersive experience as a student abroad.
Push Yourself. Rwanda is a very poor country, and life here will take on an entirely new form than what most students are accustomed to from the industrialized world. Studying abroad here will prove a true adventure of immense growth and learning.