Study Abroad in Johannesburg

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Johannesburg

Studying in Johannesburg is a refresher course on basic humanity: In one day, you can stumble through 11 indigenous languages, remember the quashing of apartheid, witness xenophobia from a new lens, and watch the sundowner with cider and pals over braii. As the epicenter of African culture, and with ambient legacies of colonization, the capital of the Rainbow nation is clearly multicultural. With all of those languages and lifestyles, it’s easy to see how Jo’burg is a city bursting with growth, diversity, and a sizzling food scene. Get ready for some adventure and new perspectives while you study in Johannesburg.

What you need to know to Study Abroad in Johannesburg, South Africa

Perhaps apartheid is one of the first things that pops into your mind when thinking of Johannesburg — and due to its relatively recent and sobering history, we don’t blame you. In fact, Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum is one of the top tourist attractions and is a must-see for study abroad students to better understand the context of the city. Here’s everything you need to know to study in Johannesburg.

Popular subjects to study. Many students sign up for courses related to human rights and society while studying in Johannesburg; however, courses in government and politics are also available. Rather than filling up your phone’s memory with sub-par photos and selfies, why not take a photography course? 

Or maybe South Africa’s literature draws your attention. There are even courses on jazz and popular music! Whatever your interest, you are sure to find courses that intersect with South African society, culture, history, politics, and econ.

Short term and summer programs vs. long term programs. Students come from all over the globe to study in short term, long term, and summer programs in Johannesburg. We always recommend that students stay as long as possible when studying abroad, as the longer your studies, the more likely you are to develop real relationships, understand cultural nuances, and leave the country with more than a passport stamp. Semester or year-long programs are GREAT for immersion.

Attending universities vs. other program types. Try consulting with your home university to see if they run any programs in Jo’burg first. If that is a no go, there are a variety of organizations that offer unique learning experiences, and with the right amount of preparation, can easily fit into your pre-determined academic course schedule. If you want the more direct-enrollment route, consider attending the University of Johannesburg, the University of Witwatersrand, and Central Johannesburg College. Finding the right option for you is just a few clicks away!

Life in Johannesburg, South Africa for International Students

Life in Johannesburg is a mixture of the old and new, the rich and poor, the city-life and the outdoor adventures. Take a tour of Soweto to get a feel for the economic extremes of Johannesburg. While there, you can visit Mandela House, a museum that tells the history of Nelson Mandela. To gain perspective on Johannesburg’s vibrant economic development, visit Maboneng Precient, where urbanization has attracted modernized apartments, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and more. 

The food scene in Johannesburg is quite unique; if you haven’t heard of South Africa’s braii culture yet, its about time to fire up that grill for some delicious BBQ. Take your time and savor the experience: braiis are a way of life.

Hungry for a traditional South African dish? How about Chinese, Indian, Italian, Portuguese, or seafood? *scratches head* With endless food options, Johannesburg will please even the pickiest eater in your group. On weekends, don’t miss the Market on Main. This outdoor food market is packed full of people excited to get a taste of unique food offerings that range from Jamaican BBQ, Ethiopian coffee, Asian dim sum, local veggies, and even craft beer. This market has it all!

GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for study abroad students in Johannesburg

If you’re looking to combine study abroad with service work, there are many programs that offer service learning options to students. Some options include volunteering at a school, non-profit organization, or health center depending on your educational goals. Although South Africa is continuing to develop, it is important to recognize that economic disparities still exist. By completing a service learning project, students can learn about the social and economic issues South Africa is facing while in an educational context. 

Johannesburg is one of the world’s leading financial centers and the economic hub of South Africa. Students interested in gaining real world experience should consider doing an internship on top of their studies in one of Johannesburg’s many thriving industries. Whether your interest is in business, IT, communications, health care, nonprofits, tourism, or education. So brush up that resume, Johannesburg has plenty of career starters!

The changing nature and diversity of Johannesburg is something you must experience in order to truly understand. After studying in Johannesburg, your perspective will change and you will return home with a deeper understanding of South Africa’s people and history. A semester or summer spent in Johannesburg will create a lasting impression and leave you hungry to come back for more.

Ready to experience Johannesburg? Read our comprehensive guide on studying in South Africa.

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Johannesburg


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