Ready to Go to South Africa
Frequently Asked Questions
Of course you have questions! Listed below are the topics we get asked about frequently, and further advice we like to provide, with links to their answers.
Do I need a passport and visa?
YES!! Please visit the U.S. State Department travel pages for the most up-to-date information regarding passport application and fees. For visa information, please see the Visa page.
What about Insurance?
Arcadia University enrolls all participants in a health and accident insurance plan with HTH Worldwide. The plan covers the costs of treatment for most sicknesses and injuries up to $500,000 with no deductible. Details of this coverage are outlined in the health and accident insurance section of our website. Specific questions should be addressed to the insurance carrier. Please note that Arcadia University does not provide insurance for your possessions. We encourage you to purchase coverage for them or to leave irreplaceable valuables at home.
Click here for more information on Health Insurance.
Will my credits transfer back home?
Only your home college can determine whether your credits will transfer back home, so be sure and safe - ask now, and obtain all the approvals you'll need. For more information regarding credit transfer policies, please visit the "Credits/Grades/Transcripts" section of our website.
Should I make copies of my papers?
Yes! Many home colleges want to review the work you completed overseas before final credit is awarded. Unless you make specific arrangements with your tutors prior to departure, final exams and/or papers will not be returned to students. It is important to keep copies, therefore, of your papers, reading lists and syllabi from all of your courses.
How will I do my banking?
It is recommended that you bring $50 exchanged into South African Rand with you to Cape Town. You may exchange your U.S. Dollars for Rand prior to your departure at your local bank or airport.
The easiest way to handle your money for everyday use is with an American ATM card. If it is linked to a major network (ex. Visa, Plus, Cirrus, etc.) and a checking account, your card will work in hundreds of cash machines throughout the country. The advantage to using your American ATM card is that you do not have to worry with large amounts of cash and can withdraw money on an as-needed basis. In addition, you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions.
You should check with the issuer of your ATM card to make sure your numerical personal identification number (PIN) will work abroad and they should be able to provide you with a list of overseas outlets where your card is accepted. Also, be sure to ask if there are any fees or surcharges for withdrawing money overseas and put a "travel alert" on your card for the duration of your program so that it is not frozen due to perceived fraudulent use.
American ATM cards are sometimes difficult to replace quickly if lost or stolen, and occasionally, students’ American ATM cards have simply not worked correctly. Take your American ATM card with you, but have other sources of money in case your ATM card does not work or is misplaced. For example, a small amount of travelers’ checks in South African Rand or a credit card can serve as back-ups if there is a problem with your ATM card.
While it is possible to handle all of your money with an American ATM card, some students may prefer to set up a South African bank account. Many of the major South African banks, like Standard Bank, offer student accounts, and all that is needed to set up an account is around 100 Rand and your passport. If this is an option that you are interested in, you will receive more information during orientation.
Should I take my computer?
If you own a laptop, you will be able to use it while in South Africa. You will need to make sure that you have the right converters and will to find a suitable place to print your work. Don't expect 24-hour computer centers, and there will be fewer computer terminals available than you are used to. You should be able to find compatible software and printers. The problem is power. Electricity in South Africa operates at 220 – 250 volts and a frequency of 50 Hertz. Some laptop computers function in South Africa using only an electricity adapter. If you decide to bring a laptop computer to South Africa, you should also be aware that internet connection facilities will vary at each accommodation venue. Finally, it is important to note that you will be responsible for any costs associated with internet connection and usage and may need to purchase appropriate connection equipment.
Check your computer for a dual voltage switch. If there isn't one, then check with your manufacturer. You will need a transformer and an adapter. Finally, leave your printer at home. Fluctuating air pressures may wreak havoc with the toner. And be sure your stuff is insured!
If you don’t own or are not planning to bring a laptop, you will have access to your institutions' computing facilities.
Is there financial aid available for study abroad?
Arcadia University has a scholarship fund for accepted students. See the Financial Aid section of our website or call our office for further details.
Ask the study abroad adviser on your campus about other financial aid possibilities and investigate the Stafford loan and the Plus loan schemes. As you are choosing to study in a non-traditional location, there are more options available than if you were choosing to study in destinations such as Europe.
So what's the weather like?
As South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere. Summer will last from December through March and winter from June through August. South Africa is a large country with a variable climate; however, regardless of location, the summers tend to be quite hot and the winters mild. In Cape Town, the days are warm and the temperature drops in the evening. You should be prepared to carry a sweater or jacket for evening during the spring and even summer. During the cooler winter months of May-July, a waterproof coat is recommended.
Will I feel culture shock?
There will be many significant differences to which you must grow accustomed when living and studying in South Africa. It is a nation of contrasts: You will see stunning beauty and ostentatious wealth not far from wide-spread poverty. Race is an issue that is very openly discussed in society, and politics are a way of life. You will grow to love all of it, but it may take some time. Read the section on Culture Shock for more detail.
What happens when I arrive in South Africa?
After you have provided your flight details to your program manager, Arcadia arranges to have you met at Cape Town International Airport. You will have orientation put on by Arcadia in staff in South Africa, which will include excursions, activities, and lively discussions, then go on to a location-specific campus orientation from your school in South Africa.
How soon after the program concludes will I receive my Arcadia University transcript?
Please see the Credits, Grades and Transcripts page.